This morning I was going through my in box when I noticed a "Green but Game" Blog posting which said the following:
Randomly visiting the Mammee Ridge farm site to see if there were any new photos of Papi Chullo I was stunned to find news of his death!
From Sunday May 10th:
It is with regret that we announce the death of Papi Chullo who died this morning. An necropsy performed by Dr. Clifford Bradford indicated that the young stallion suffered a heart attack.
Papi Chullo, a Graded Stakes winner of 7 races and US$390,062.00 endeared himself to racing fans throughout the United States. He arrived in Jamaica to stand at Mammee Ridge Farm, and became an immediate favourite of the staff and the local community alike.
Two mares have been confirmed to be in foal to the late Papi Chullo.
He will be missed.
Huh?, after I blinked two or three times and really looked at the picture of the beautiful grey I sent a message to Dana the author of the blog. We both said the same thing, why didn't any of us hear about this?.
I was taken back a couple months ago prior to his death in May, to our efforts ("our" being a Facebook Group of primarily New York racing enthusiasts headed up by Ernie Munick) to attempt to purchase Papi Chulllo off the track or to see if the group that had him would consider retiring him without one of us dipping in for a claim or private purchase. Ernie had posted a picture of Papi Chullo from November (see above) and it was surprising to me to see him in New York, because my first recollection of him was when he was racing in Southern California years earlier. Many people in the group thought that he deserved much better than the $ 16,000 claimer that he was running in or the level he was pointed at, and were concerned that it was a slippery slope to who knows where.
Before you knew it his fans in the group were stating that we could raise the money to buy him (yes it reminded me of an ol' MGM musical, "Sure Billy, we can put on a show or raise a barn in a day") . Maggi Moss, prominent owner in the mid West, stated she would contact the owners on the group's behalf and would in fact make the purchase if we could find a place for him to go. Wheels were put into motion, different people took on different roles to accomplish this feat but unfortunately our efforts were for not. I remember being disappointed at the response, especially because one of the owners of Papi Chullo could have benefited from the positive publicity at the time!
It is sad that Papi Chullo wasn't able to live out his life in the warm Caribbean sun, but his life and death serves as a reminder to me that there are owners, breeders, trainers and racing fans that truly care about race horses. Small efforts are started and successfully accomplished all the time. The Fans of Barbaro are a perfect example of a ground swell of activity and networking coming to the forefront and impacting a larger community for good. There will be many more "Papi's" out there and many more efforts to bring them out of racing into a soft place to land. Hopefully the next ending will not be so bittersweet.
RIP indeed Papi Chullo.