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The horse that propelled Nick Zito to stardom, Strike The Gold, has died at age 23. Strike The Gold had been battling a deadly hoof disease, laminitis, but was in otherwise good health until he suffered a fracture in his left front pastern. Strike The Gold was euthanized on December 13th at Karacabey Stud Farm in Turkey after being examined by multiple veterinarians.

Strike The Gold, who won the 1991 Kentucky Derby while ridden by Chris Antley and owned by BCC Gold Stable, has spent almost two decades as a top stud in Turkey, with his progeny earnings standing at over $20 million. He was rated the number one stud in 2011 with his progeny winning over $4 million. In his racing days, Strike The Gold earned $3,457,026 in 31 starts. In those starts he posted a win, place, and show mark of 6-8-5, with victories in the Pimlico Special Handicap, the 1991 Bluegrass Stakes and the Nassau County Handicap. He is still the last horse to have won both the Bluegrass Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

On December 14th, his former trainer, Nick Zito, said “He was obviously the horse that helped launch my career; he’s a big reason why I’m here today.”  With the death of the former great, Sea Hero is now the oldest living winner of the Kentucky Derby at 21. Sea Hero, the Derby’s 1993 winner, is also a top stud in Turkey, and was the first Derby win for Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey.