December 1, 2021

Grade 1 winner Bonapaw dead at 21

Bonapaw lived out his days at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky (c) Laura Battles

Just two days after losing Tinners Way, Old Friends announced that Grade 1-winning millionaire Bonapaw was euthanized on Friday due to complications caused by the neurological disease EPM. He was 21.

“We are so grateful to have had these years with Bonapaw,” Old Friends President Michael Blowen said. “He was a great race horse, and he meant so much to his owners as well as all of his many fans. Jamie (Richard Jr.) even donated Bonapaw’s Vosburgh Trophy to us, and we will cherish it always.”

Bonapaw was a bargain when selling for only $6,500 to twin brothers James and Dennis Richard, and would take his owners on a wild ride during his time on track.

Making his debut for trainer Donald Heckler, the first of many conditioners who would have the Sabona gelding in their shedrows, Bonapaw took four tries before breaking his maiden by 10 lengths at Fair Grounds on November 27, 1998. The bay wouldn’t take on stakes rivals until April 17, 1999, at Evangeline Downs, when he captured the Inaugural Handicap by two lengths in his final start for Heckler.

Joining Howard Alonzo’s barn, Bonapaw scored while making his graded debut in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park on April 12, 2001. One year later, the Kentucky-bred added the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) to his resume, capping off a three-stakes win streak that also included the Hanshin Handicap (G3) and Arlington Sprint Handicap. He also took a trip overseas at one point, trying the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1) at Nad al Sheba in 2002, but could do no better than sixth in that international affair.

Bonapaw’s Vosburgh triumph saw his owners pay the $90,000 supplemental fee to enter their runner in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Arlington on October 26, 2002. However, that year also featured champions Orientate, Kona Gold and filly Xtra Heat, and Bonapaw could do no better than 10th.

The bay son of Pawlova scored just once more in his career, and retired in 2005 with a 49-18-7-4, $1,158,752 lifetime record. He was donated to Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky, in 2009 by James Richard Jr.