|Grandsire||Raise a Native|
|Foaled||Mar. 21, 1986|
|Trainer||Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey III|
Champagne Stakes (1988)
Belmont Stakes (1989)
|U.S. Champion 2-Yr-Old Colt (1988)|
|National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (1997)
#34 – Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
|Last updated on September 21, 2006|
Easy Goer (March 21, 1986 – May 12, 1994) was an American Champion Hall of Fame Thoroughbred racehorse famous for earning American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt honors in 1988 and defeating 1989 American Horse of the Year Sunday Silence in the Belmont Stakes by 8 lengths. The victory deprived Sunday Silence of the Triple Crown. It was also the second fastest Belmont Stakes, behind only the record performance of Secretariat in 1973. Easy Goer was also famous for running the fastest mile on dirt by any three-year-old in the history of thoroughbred racing with a time of 1:32 2/5 (running 1 full second faster than Secretariat's stakes record), one-fifth of a second off of the world record set by Dr. Fager in 1968. In the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century, Easy Goer is ranked #34.
Homebred and owned by Ogden Phipps, Easy Goer was a son of Alydar and was out of the 1981 American Champion Older Female Horse Relaxing (by Horse of the Year Buckpasser). Trained by Shug McGaughey and ridden by Pat Day, the large, bright chestnut colt with a white star won 14 of his 20 races, including 9 Grade I wins, and placed second five times, including three runner-up finishes (two of these by margins of a nose and neck) to arch-rival Sunday Silence.
1988: two-year-old season
At two, Easy Goer won the Grade I Cowdin Stakes (defeating Is It True by 4 lengths) and the Grade I Champagne Stakes (defeating Is It True by 4 lengths), with his 1:34 4/5 time for the mile tied for fourth fastest in Champagne Stakes history behind Vitriolic, Seattle Slew and Devil's Bag. He also had won his maiden race at 7 furlongs at Saratoga Race Course, defeating Is It True by over 2 lengths, and, as his trainer Shug McGaughey stated, "Running two or three seconds faster (about 10 to 15 lengths faster) than the split of the race." He then won an allowance race at Belmont Park at 6 1/2 furlongs, running one fifth of a second off the track record in 1:15 2/5,and his trainer proclaimed, "Then I knew I was training something special." He also finished second in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on a muddy track to Is It True , whom he had defeated three times earlier in the year. He was named Champion 2-year-old colt and was the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
1989: three-year-old season
At three, Easy Goer took the Swale Stakes in the fastest 7 furlongs of the Gulfstream Park meeting in a time of 1:22 1/5, the Grade II Gotham Stakes, the Grade I Wood Memorial, the Grade I Belmont Stakes (in 2:26, a time second only to Secretariat's), the Grade I Whitney Stakes (winning by over 4 lengths), the Grade I Travers Stakes, the Grade I Woodward Stakes (by open lengths on a muddy track), and the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup (by four lengths, and defeating Prized, who had defeated Sunday Silence earlier in the year, by over 20 lengths).
In the Gotham, Easy Goer's winning time of 1:32 2/5 for the mile set a new track record (running a full second faster than Secretariat's stakes record) and was the fastest mile on any dirt surface by any three year old thoroughbred in history and was 1/5 of a second off of Dr. Fager's world record. Easy Goer also missed the stakes and track record in the Whitney by 2/5 of a second (established by Fred W. Hooper's Tri Jet. At the time, Tri Jet was the only horse who ever ran a faster Whitney than Easy Goer), and the Travers by 4/5 of a second. Only General Assembly and Honest Pleasure have ever run a faster Travers Stakes than Easy Goer.
Easy Goer is the only horse in history to win the Whitney, Travers Stakes, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup. In three of these races (Whitney, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup), Easy Goer defeated older horses, becoming one of the few 3-year-olds in modern American racing history to accomplish such a feat. Only Easy Goer, Kelso and Slew o' Gold have ever won the Whitney, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup in the same year, but Easy Goer was the only three-year-old to complete the triple. Additionally, he is one of only two horses to ever win the Champagne, Belmont Stakes and Travers. He was one of the last American-trained horses to win two Grade I races at a mile and a half on dirt (Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup). Easy Goer's 1989 three-year-old campaign is considered by some to be the greatest in American racing history without yielding any year-end championship awards.
1990: four-year-old season
At four, Easy Goer won the Gold Stage Stakes and the Grade I Suburban Handicap (3/5 of a second off Alysheba's track record set in a weight for age race) while conceding 12 to 19 pounds to his opponents. He was also third in the Grade I Metropolitan Mile, marking the only time that he did not finish either first or second. Easy Goer was beaten by a little more than a length behind eventual Horse of the Year Criminal Type and two-time sprint champion Housebuster while carrying considerably more weight than those two. In Easy Goer's 20-race career, he was never defeated by more than 2½ lengths.
After his Suburban Handicap win, Easy Goer, plagued by troublesome ankles his entire career, was retired due to a bone chip in his right front ankle. Easy Goer won 14 races, including 9 Grade I wins and earned $4,873,770 in his career.
Rivalry with Sunday Silence
Easy Goer was most remembered for his rivalry with Sunday Silence, with a 1–3 record against him. The two first met in the 1989 Kentucky Derby, with Easy Goer installed as the morning-line favorite. The track came up muddy, and Sunday Silence won by 2½ lengths in the slow time of 2:05. Easy Goer's performance was apparently affected by the muddy footing, as his rider Pat Day stated, "Easy Goer simply did not handle the race track and never got out of second gear. He finished 2nd on class and talent."  Easy Goer had also finished second at Churchill Downs in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile the previous year on a similar muddy track to Is It True, whom he had defeated three times earlier that year. Easy Goer also had traffic trouble in the race, being cut off by Northern Wolf during the first quarter mile causing Easy Goer to check, and Dansil drifting into his path in the final eighth of a mile in the home stretch causing Easy Goer to alter course. Sunday Silence won the Derby despite not keeping a straight path through the stretch while 2½ lengths clear of the field.
After the Derby, both horses returned to action in the second jewel of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes. Easy Goer broke poorly when he dwelt at the start, breaking in the air, but got within 4 1/2 lengths of the leader and within 3 lengths of his rival with a mile remaining in the 1 3/16 mile race. He was then sent through an extremely fast early move down the backstretch by his jockey, Pat Day. He held a 2-length lead over Sunday Silence with a half mile remaining, but Sunday Silence challenged, with both horses running the fastest mile split in Preakness history in 1:34 1/5. Following a head-to-head duel for the last quarter mile, Sunday Silence won by a nose in a fast final time of 1:53 4/5. Day was criticized for reining Easy Goer's head sideways to the right in deep stretch with a short lead right before the finish line. Day criticized himself as well and was quoted after the race as saying, "It was absolute rider error"  for moving Easy Goer prematurely through a very quick move into a very fast pace from the 3/4 to 1/2 mile pole and gaining the lead with a half mile remaining.
The two horses met again in the final jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, known as "The Test of the Champion" and "Run for the Carnations." Sunday Silence went off odds-on favorite, backed by his two wins against Easy Goer and attempting to win the Triple Crown. This time, Easy Goer defeated his rival by 8 lengths in 2:26. The final time marked the second fastest performance in the history of the race behind only Secretariat's world-record dirt track time of 2:24, seeming to vindicate Easy Goer's reputation as the reigning champion two year old.
The rivalry resumed for the final time in the Breeders' Cup Classic, run on November 4 at 1¼ miles. With champion honors at stake, the race was labeled "Race of the Decade" by the thoroughbred media. Easy Goer was favored by the wagering public, based on his Belmont Stakes win and subsequent four Grade I wins, with three of those wins against older horses, most recently in the longer distanced 1½ miles Jockey Club Gold Cup. Sunday Silence was second choice, with two races in the 5 months between the Belmont and the Breeders' Cup: a second to eventual Breeders' Cup Turf winner Prized in the Grade II Swaps Stakes on July 23 and a win in the Super Derby on September 24. Sunday Silence's regular rider, Patrick Valenzuela, had recently been suspended for cocaine use. Trainer Charles E. Whittingham assigned the mount to Chris McCarron. Easy Goer was rated eleven lengths (and about seven lengths behind Sunday Silence) behind the brisk opening fractions of 22:2/5 and 46:1/5, but made a big run and got near his rival at the half mile point. Sunday Silence then made a charge turning for home and gained the lead in the final furlong, 4 lengths ahead of Easy Goer. Easy Goer closed ground late with another big move but lost by a diminishing neck to Sunday Silence, who was under strong urging by McCarron, with a final time of 2:00 1/5. The victory assured Sunday Silence Eclipse Award for Outstanding 3-Year-Old Male Horse and Horse of the Year honors for 1989. Though former New York Times racing writer and current Daily Racing Form chairman, Steve Crist, stated in his N.Y. Times article in January, 1990, that had the question on the ballot been, "Who is the better horse, Sunday Silence or Easy Goer?" a lot more than 19 people would have voted against Sunday Silence. Paul Moran of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday agreed, stating, "Sunday Silence is Horse of the Year, but most still believe Easy Goer is the better horse.
After his retirement from racing, Easy Goer stood stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. He had the ultimate honor of occupying the number one stall in the number one barn. His stall was previously occupied by Bold Ruler and Secretariat. When only eight years old, Easy Goer was turned out for exercise one day and spent the time bucking and racing around his pasture. Dr. Thomas Swerczek, the veterinary pathologist at the University of Kentucky who conducted Easy Goer's 1994 postmortem examination, determined that the horse died of an anaphylactic reaction to an undetermined allergen and also had cancerous tumors in multiple organs. But the veterinarians were convinced the cancer did not kill Easy Goer and probably would not have been fatal for a long time. The vets also said that fatal allergic reactions are more common than most professionals realize.
At stud, in just a few crops before his premature death, Easy Goer sired three Grade I winners and 9 total stakes winners (7%), from only 136 foals, of which only 101 were starters. His most notable sons and daughters include the colt Will's Way (who won the Grade I Whitney Handicap and Grade I Travers Stakes just like his sire. Will's Way in turn, sired the Grade I Cigar Mile Handicap winner Lion Tamer) and the fillies My Flag (winner of the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Grade I Ashland Stakes, Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade I Gazelle Stakes) and Furlough (winner of the Grade I Ballerina Handicap and dam of Stakes Winners Happy Hunting and Pardon). He also sired Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes winner Composer, and the stakes winning mares Relaxing Rhythm (winner of the Grade II Molly Pitcher Handicap), Smooth Charmer and Jetto. My Flag, the product of a mating with the 1996 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, Personal Ensign, is the dam of champion filly Storm Flag Flying and the stakes-placed On Parade(dam of multiple graded stakes winner Parading, who stands at Claiborne Farm), and stakes winner With Flying Colors. Personal Ensign (1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff), My Flag (1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies), and Storm Flag Flying (2002 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies) were the first three-generation consecutive winners of Breeders' Cup races.
Easy Goer is also proving to be an influential broodmare sire (from only 53 mares by Easy Goer, they have produced 23 stakes winners), with Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and Eclipse Award Champion Storm Flag Flying, Grade I Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and Metropolitan Handicap (Grade I) winner Corinthian, Coaching Club American Oaks (Grade I) and Shuvee Handicap (Grade II) winner Funny Moon, Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I) winner Monba, French 2000 Guineas (Group 1) winner Astronomer Royal, Yellow Ribbon Stakes (Grade I), Del Mar Oaks (Grade I), Gamely Stakes(Grade I) and John C. Mabee Handicap (Grade I) winner Magical Fantasy, promising young sire Mull of Kintyre (Winner of the Group II Gimcrack Stakes in England and sire of multiple Group I winner Araafa), stakes winners Happy Hunting (Winner of the Grade III Aqueduct Handicap), Spring Waltz (Winner of the Grade II Rampart Handicap), Navesink River (Winner of the Grade II Pan American Handicap), Desert Hero (Winner of the Grade II San Rafael Stakes), Sea Chanter, Sue's Good News(dam of Grade I Ogden Phipps Handicap winner Tiz Miz Sue), Easy Slam(Dam of Grade III Jessamine Stakes winner Kitten Kaboodle), Kindness(Dam of Grade II Breeders' Cup Marathon winner London Bridge), Fabulous Bonus(Dam of Grade II Go For Wand Handicap winner Royal Lahaina), Unbridled Jet, Easyfromthegitgo, Nolan's Cat, Easy Grades, Pardon and the aforementioned Storm Flag Flying and her half sister With Flying Colors (who was sired by A.P. Indy) among his daughter's offspring.
- "New York News, Traffic, Sports, Weather, Photos, Entertainment, and Gossip - Homepage - NY Daily News". Daily News (New York).
- Crist, Steven (October 6, 1989). "NOTEBOOK; Easy Goer Closing In on a 3-Year-Old Season Worthy of Secretariat". The New York Times.
- Crist, Steven (October 8, 1989). "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Surges To Win Gold Cup". The New York Times.
- Crist, Steven (July 19, 1990). "Easy Goer Is Retired After Bone Chip Is Found". The New York Times.
- Crist, Steven (May 7, 1989). "HORSE RACING; Sunday Silence Takes Derby in Upset". The New York Times.
- Christine, Bill (June 5, 1989). "It Was a Difference of Styles in the Preakness : Valenzuela's Aggressive Western Riding Overwhelmed Day's Eastern Patience". Los Angeles Times.
- Crist, Steven (June 11, 1989). "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Finally Beats Sunday Silence". The New York Times.
- Crist, Steven (1990-01-30). "HORSE RACING; Sunday Silence does the expected - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
- Moran, Paul (November 21, 1989). "RACING VIEWS : Too Long a Wait for Rematch of Top 2 Horses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
- Lazzarino, Chris (May 29, 1994). "Gambler keeps placing big bets, but he won't show". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
- Easy Goer's pedigree and photo
- Easy Goer's page in the Hall of Fame
- Search for Easy Goer articles in the New York Times