Easy Goer

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Easy Goer
Sire Alydar
Grandsire Raise a Native
Dam Relaxing
Damsire Buckpasser
Sex Stallion
Foaled Mar. 21, 1986
Country United States
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Ogden Phipps
Owner Ogden Phipps
Trainer Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey III
Record 20: 14-5-1
Earnings $4,873,770
Major wins

Champagne Stakes (1988)
Cowdin Stakes (1988)
Gotham Stakes (1989)
Swale Stakes (1989)
Travers Stakes (1989)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (1989)
Wood Memorial Stakes (1989)
Whitney Handicap (1989)
Woodward Stakes (1989)
Suburban Handicap (1990)

Triple Crown race wins:
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 June 3, 2014

Easy Goer (March 21, 1986 – May 12, 1994) was an American Champion Hall of Fame Thoroughbred racehorse known 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 eight lengths. The victory deprived Sunday Silence of the Triple Crown. It was also the second-fastest Belmont in history, behind only the record performance of Secretariat in 1973. Easy Goer also ran the fastest mile on dirt by any three-year-old in the history of Thoroughbred racing with a time of 1:32 2/5, which was a second faster than Secretariat's stakes record, and one-fifth of a second off of the world record set by Dr. Fager in 1968. Easy Goer was the only horse in racing history to win the Belmont, Whitney, Travers, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup and the only 3-year-old to win the Whitney, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup.[1] On the Blood-Horse List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century, Easy Goer is ranked #34.

Racing career[edit]

Bred and owned by Ogden Phipps, Easy Goer was a son of Alydar out of the 1981 American Champion Older Female Horse Relaxing (by Buckpasser). Trained by Shug McGaughey and ridden by Pat Day, the chestnut colt with a white star won 14 of his 20 races, including nine Grade I wins, and placed second five times. Easy Goer's racing career was marked by his closely matched rivalry with Sunday Silence, who held a three to one edge in their head to head races.[2] Easy Goer defeated Sunday Silence by eight lengths in the Belmont and finished second to him in the Kentucky Derby by two and a half lengths, Preakness by a nose and Breeders' Cup Classic by a neck. Both horses were later voted into the American Hall of Fame. McGaughey described Easy Goer as, "a big, strong horse, and jockey Pat Day helped him by not crucifying him in his races and bringing me back something. He had soundness problems, but we stayed on top of it."[3] Racing writer Steve Haskin described Easy Goer as "Adonis-like, the closest thing physically to Secretariat. He was plagued by terrible ankles his entire career, but was placed upon a throne at an early age and justified all the adoration."[4] Racing writer Edward L. Bowen said: "Easy Goer was a glowing chestnut with a fluid stride that belied his short pasterns and less than perfect foot. Pasterns notwithstanding, he had the look of greatness, and he ran to his looks."[5] Joe Drape of The New York Times described Easy Goer as a "powerful, massive, raw talent with an enormous stride."[6] His running style was versatile and he was able to adjust to racing conditions;[7][8] he could go to the lead or come from behind,[9] he was able to put pressure on speed horses and stay with a faster pace, or drop back if needed.[10] He possessed both speed and stamina.[11] Among his peak performances, Easy Goer ran 124 and 122 Beyer Speed Figures.[12] He also consistently ran in the 120 speed figure range on a regular basis in his races.[13] Furthermore, he ran the fastest Beyer Speed Figure performance by any two-year-old, as well as the fastest Beyer Speed Figure performance in any Triple Crown race since Beyer racing figures were first published.[14][15]

1988: two-year-old season[edit]

Before his career began, Easy Goer was shipped to McGaughey at the Payson Park Training Center in Indiantown, Florida, where he spent the winter getting acquainted with the starting gate and underwent basic training. His trainer noted some faults in his conformation. He had puffy, problematic ankles,[16] a clubfoot, and a turned-out left knee, all providing the potential for injury once the horse began serious workouts.[17] However, McGaughey was captivated with Easy Goer the first time he saw him, but really felt he had something special when he watched him for the first time with a set of horses. “He gave the impression he could gallop those horses to death,” McGaughey said.[4]

At two, Easy Goer won his maiden race at seven furlongs at Saratoga Race Course under a hand ride, defeating Is It True by over two lengths after being steadied on the backstretch, and, as McGaughey stated, "Running two or three seconds faster than the split of the race." Easy Goer came out of that race with a sore left shin. McGaughey was concerned because he thought he might have to stop the colt's training; however, treatment by hosing and poulticing the leg to draw out the heat was successful. McGaughey decided to wait and have Easy Goer's legs further treated after the Breeders' Cup that November. Easy Goer continued to train at Saratoga.[17] He then won a 6 1/2 furlong allowance race at Belmont Park, again under little urging, running one-fifth of a second off the track record in 1:15 2/5, while carrying five pounds more than his opponents. His trainer said, "Then I knew I was training something special."[18] Easy Goer next won the seven-furlong Grade I Cowdin Stakes with little encouragement, defeating Is It True by four lengths. He ran the seven furlongs in 1:23 3/5. The raw time was more than 2 seconds off Devil's Bag's 1983 stakes record, but the Belmont track was producing unusually slow times that day.[19] He also won the one-mile Grade I Champagne Stakes with little exertion, again defeating Is It True by four lengths, after stalking a half length to a length and a half behind the leader through fast fractions of 22 4/5 and 45 3/5. His 1:34 4/5 time for the mile tied for fourth-fastest in Champagne Stakes history behind Vitriolic, Seattle Slew (1:34 2/5), and Devil's Bag (1:34 1/5).[20] Additionally, Easy Goer ran the best Beyer Speed Figure (116 Beyer) performance (in the 1988 Champagne Stakes)[21] of any 2-year-old since Beyer racing figures were first published.[14]

He finished second in his last race of his two-year-old season, the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. He lost to Is It True, a horse he had defeated three times earlier in the year, having jumped the tire tracks left by the starting gate late in the homestretch, and seemed to be struggling and uncomfortable with the muddy track.[22] He was named Champion two-year-old colt and was the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. After the Breeders' Cup, he was shipped to New York to have his shins pinfired, and then sent to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, to recuperate.[17]

1989: three-year-old season[edit]

At three, Easy Goer won the Swale Stakes in the fastest seven furlongs of the Gulfstream Park meeting in a time of 1:22 1/5 while carrying ten pounds more than the runner up. He "exploded" around the far turn to an almost nine length win.[23] He then won the one mile Grade II Gotham Stakes by thirteen lengths in record time while conceding nine pounds and five pounds to the second and third-place finishers respectively, including future world record holder (on turf at one mile) Expensive Decision. He won handily and his winning time of 1:32 2/5 for the mile set a new track record, a second faster than Secretariat's stakes record, the fastest mile on a dirt surface by any three-year-old Thoroughbred in history, and a fifth of a second off Dr. Fager's world record.[24] His next race was the mile and an eighth Grade I Wood Memorial, which in 1989 was run two weeks after the Gotham Stakes and two weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Easy Goer ran close to the lead the entire race and won by three lengths. He was timed in a relatively moderate 1:50 3/5. However, students of time pointed out that Aqueduct was playing about two seconds slower than normal on the day.[25]

Rivalry with Sunday Silence[edit]

Easy Goer was most remembered for his rivalry with Sunday Silence. The two first met in the 1989 Kentucky Derby, where Sunday Silence won by 2½ lengths in the relatively slow time of 2:05 on a muddy track similar to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile the previous year. Easy Goer had a small crack in his left front heel that was found the week leading into the Kentucky Derby. The crack was serious enough to cause discomfort and possibly keep him from running.[26] Easy Goer had a history for his difficulty to handle a muddy track at Churchill Downs and seemed to be struggling with the footing.[27][28] Easy Goer also had traffic trouble in the race, being cut off by Northern Wolf during the first quarter-mile, causing him to check, and Dansil drifted 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.[29][30]

After the Derby, both horses returned to action two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes. Throughout Preakness week, as late as the day before the race, Easy Goer's front feet were being soaked in a tub of Epsom salts due to small scratches or cracks on both heels. His ankles and knees were also given ultrasound.[31] Easy Goer, after breaking in the air at the start, made a big, early move down the backstretch which catapulted him to a two-length lead over Sunday Silence with a half mile remaining. Sunday Silence then challenged around the far turn, with both horses running the fastest mile split in Preakness history in 1:34 1/5. Following a nose-to-nose duel for the last quarter mile, Sunday Silence won by a nose in a fast final time of 1:53 4/5. Jockey Pat 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, calling his ride "a mistake."[28] Bill Christine of the Los Angeles Times, and trainer McGaughey also expressed their opinions on the mistakes they thought Day made during the race.[32][33][34]

After the Preakness, both rivals returned to action three weeks later in the Belmont Stakes. Easy Goer defeated Sunday Silence by eight lengths in the time of 2:26 [35] producing the second fastest Belmont Stakes in history, behind Secretariat, and denied Sunday Silence the Triple Crown.[36] In the process, Easy Goer seemed to vindicate his reputation as the reigning champion two year-old. The jockey of Sunday Silence, Pat Valenzuela, described Easy Goer's performance as that of a superhorse.[35] The race was run over a fast but not unusually quick track.[36] Easy Goer earned a 122 Beyer Speed Figure, the best in any Triple Crown race since these ratings were first published in 1987.[15]

Remainder of season[edit]

Easy Goer went on that year to win the mile and an eighth Grade I Whitney Stakes, defeating older horses by over four lengths in near record time. He missed the stakes and track record in the Whitney by 2/5 of a second. The record was then held by Tri Jet, the only horse to ever run a faster Whitney than Easy Goer. Easy Goer earned the time even though steadied while being trapped, boxed in and steadied around the far turn, and running his last eighth of a mile in eleven and two-fifth seconds.[37] Two weeks later, he won the mile and a quarter Grade I Travers Stakes with moderate effort by three lengths also in near record time. He missed the Travers record by 4/5 of a second. It was the third fastest in Travers history, behind General Assembly and Honest Pleasure.[38] He then won the mile and a quarter Grade I Woodward Stakes by two lengths on a muddy track, again defeating older horses while carrying more weight and being stuck in traffic, boxed in on the rail and checking hard twice. This was the final time the Woodward was run at the mile and a quarter distance.[39] Three weeks later, he won the mile and a half Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup by four lengths, again defeating older horses. He defeated Prized in this race, a horse who had defeated Sunday Silence earlier in the year, by over 20 lengths, even though the track was playing dull and slow. Despite the dullness of the racing surface, moderate pace, and relatively slow final time, he ran his sixth and final quarter-mile his fastest, coming home in 24.12 seconds. This was the final time the Jockey Club Gold Cup was run at a mile and a half distance.[40]

The rivalry with Sunday Silence concluded 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 horse racing media. Easy Goer was favored by the wagering public based on his Belmont Stakes win and subsequent four Grade I wins, three against older horses. 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 came into the 10-furlong Classic off the 12-furlong Gold Cup—a potentially tricky parlay for a trainer, because the longer race can have the dangerous effect of dulling the colt's natural speed and blunting the quickness that he might need in a shorter race.[41] In contrast, trainer Charlie Whittingham had run Sunday Silence only twice in the five months since the Belmont, both times over a 1¼-mile distance—in the Grade II Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park, where he finished second, and two months later in the Sept. 24 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, which he won. Easy Goer ran 11 lengths off the lead, 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, four 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 Three-Year-Old Male Horse and Horse of the Year honors for 1989. After the race, McGaughey said, "Sunday Silence had a perfect trip and we made a couple of mistakes. Pat and I agree that he made riding mistakes in the Preakness. But in the other races, there were circumstances that contributed to what happened. Maybe when Pat grabbed him after the start, the horse didn't understand what he was doing. Then Pat was content to sit and wait behind Sunday Silence, as he had done before, and the other horse got away from us."[42] Steven Crist stated in his New York Times article in January 1990 that had the question on the ballot been, "Who is the better horse, Sunday Silence or Easy Goer?", his view was that a lot more than 19 people would have voted against Sunday Silence.[43] 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."[44]

Easy Goer is the only horse in history to win the Whitney, Travers, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. In three of these races, he defeated older horses, becoming one of the few three-year-olds in modern American racing history to do so.[45] Only three Hall of Fame horses (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).[3] 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.[45][46][47][48]

1990: four-year-old season[edit]

At four, Easy Goer won the seven-furlong Gold Stage Stakes ridden out on a sloppy track by over seven lengths and won the mile and a quarter Grade I Suburban Handicap by almost four lengths ridden out in a time of 2:00 after going head and head on the lead while sprinting through fast fractions of 46.75 for a half-mile and 1:09.87 for six furlongs. The final time was 3/5 of a second off Alysheba's then track record, which had been set in a weight for age race. Easy Goer conceded 12 to 19 pounds (5.4 to 8.6 kg) to his opponents.[49] He was also third in the Grade I Metropolitan Mile, marking the only time he did not finish either first or second in his career. Easy Goer always had problematic ankles, and his handlers had to work overtime on them during the month. Rumors about his soundness had swirled around the track for the two weeks leading into the race.[50] 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 competitors (fourteen and seven pounds, respectively). In Easy Goer's 20-race career, he was never defeated by more than 2½ lengths.

After his Suburban Handicap win, Easy Goer was retired due to a bone chip in his right front ankle.[51] He won 14 races, including 9 Grade I wins, and earned $4,873,770.

Stud record[edit]

After his retirement from racing, Easy Goer stood stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. He was given the honor of occupying the number one stall in the number one barn.[52] His stall was previously occupied by Bold Ruler and Secretariat. At age eight, in 1994, Easy Goer collapsed and died while jogging in his paddock at Claiborne Farm.[53] Dr. Thomas Swerczek, the veterinary pathologist at the University of Kentucky, who conducted Easy Goer's necropsy, determined the horse died of an anaphylactic reaction to an undetermined allergen and also had cancerous tumors in multiple organs. The veterinarians were convinced the cancer did not kill Easy Goer and probably would not have been fatal for a long time. They also said fatal allergic reactions are more common than most professionals realize.[54] Easy Goer was buried at Claiborne Farm along with Secretariat, Buckpasser and Bold Ruler.

At stud, in just a few crops before his premature death, Easy Goer sired three Grade I winners and nine stakes winners (7%), from 136 foals, of which 101 were starters, and 74 were winners. While speed at distances up to a mile had been favored over "stoutness" in much American breeding, Easy Goer demonstrated speed over a mile as well as stamina. Given the combination of his pedigree and the high-quality mares to which he was bred at Claiborne, it was speculated by The Blood-Horse that he would have been even more significant as a stallion had he lived longer.[11] Easy Goer was also an influential broodmare sire. From 53 mares sired by Easy Goer, they have produced 23 stakes winners.[11]

Notable Offspring[edit]

Easy Goer was the sire [55] of:

Notable Descendants[edit]

Easy Goer is the broodmare sire (maternal grandsire) of:

In 1997, Easy Goer was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.[57]


  1. ^ "hall of fame pade -Easy Goer- racingmuseum.org". racingmuseum.org. racingmuseum.org. 
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  3. ^ a b Fountaine, Ed (August 17, 2003). "Midsummer Derby is second to none: Historic race crowns heroes at Saratoga". The New York Post. 
  4. ^ a b Haskin, Steve (March 3, 2014). "The Selling of the 1989 Triple Crown". Blood Horse Hangin' with Haskin. 
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  8. ^ Jerardi, Dick (August 18, 1989). "Easy Goer Challenge: Outfox Clever Trevor". The Inquirer. 
  9. ^ Marder, Keith (June 10, 1989). "2 TRAINERS, 2 HORSES, 2 SECONDS". Times Union. 
  10. ^ Moran, Paul (July 8, 1990). "HORSE RACING : Easy Goer Is Poised for Arlington". The Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ a b c Hunter, Avalyn (July 29, 2009). "Funny Moon Bred on Miler-Over-Stamina Model". Blood Horse. 
  12. ^ Beyer, Andrew (November 10, 1996). "Overacheiver Cigar Had a Mark of Consistency". Washington Post. 
  13. ^ Jerardi, Dick (August 26, 2005). "Beyer figs get human touch" (PDF). Daily Racing Form. 
  14. ^ a b Beyer, Andrew (February 9, 2008). "With a Combination of Speed and Class, War Pass Is Reminiscent of Seattle Slew". The Washington Post. 
  15. ^ a b Beyer, Andrew (May 17, 2004). "On the Fast Track To History". The Washington Post. 
  16. ^ "HORSE RACING : Maybe It's Time Easy Goer Gets a Different Rider". Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  17. ^ a b c Stathoplos, Demmie (May 8, 1989). "A Tale Of Two Horse". Sports Illustrated. 
  18. ^ "New York News, Traffic, Sports, Weather, Photos, Entertainment, and Gossip - Homepage - NY Daily News". Daily News (New York). 
  19. ^ "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Captures Cowdin". New York Times (New York). 
  20. ^ "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Wins Champagne". New York Times (New York). 
  21. ^ Beyer, Andrew (1993). Beyer on Speed. Beyer on Speed. 
  22. ^ "history/hall of champions -Homepage - breederscup.com". breederscup.com (breederscup.com). 
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  24. ^ Finley, Bill (April 7, 2004). "On This Day...". Bloodhorse.com. 
  25. ^ Christine, Bill (April 23, 1989). "Wood Memorial : Easy Goer's 3-Length Victory Is Impressive but Not Spectacular". The Los Angeles Times. 
  26. ^ Christine, Bill (May 18, 1989). "McGaughey decides not to run Easy Goer on bute in Preakness". Schenectady Gazette. 
  27. ^ "BELMONT STAKES; A Wet Track Could Dampen Bid for Crown". New York Times. 1989-06-10. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  28. ^ a b "Day finally steers Easy Goer right". Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  29. ^ Joseph, Dave (May 7, 1989). "A Moment Of `Silence` Sunday Silence Upsets Easy Goer In The Mud". Sun Sentinel. 
  30. ^ Crist, Steven (May 7, 1989). "HORSE RACING; Sunday Silence Takes Derby in Upset". The New York Times. 
  31. ^ Joseph, Dave (May 20, 1989). "Looking For Word To Whys Will Easy Goer Have Answers?". Sun Sentinel. 
  32. ^ "It Was a Difference of Styles in the Preakness : Valenzuela's Aggressive Western Riding Overwhelmed Day's Eastern Patience". Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  33. ^ "Day finally steers Easy Goer right". Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  34. ^ "Easy Goer gets last shot". Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  35. ^ a b "BELMONT STAKES; An Appropriate Reaction From Whittingham: Silence - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1989-06-11. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  36. ^ a b "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Finally Beats Sunday Silence - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1989-06-11. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  37. ^ Crist, Steven (August 6, 1989). "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Rallies to Win Whitney". The New York Times. 
  38. ^ Crist, Steven (August 20, 1989). "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Takes Travers by 3 Lengths". The New York Times. 
  39. ^ Crist, Steven (September 17, 1989). "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Proves He's No. 1". The New York Times. 
  40. ^ Crist, Steven (October 8, 1989). "HORSE RACING; Easy Goer Surges To Win Gold Cup". The New York Times. 
  41. ^ Nack, William (November 13, 1989). "Silence Roars Once More". Sports Illustrated. 
  42. ^ Christine, Bill (November 6, 1989). "Sounds of Silence Make It Difficult for McGaughey : Horse Racing: The day after losing the Breeders' Cup Classic to Sunday Silence, Easy Goer's trainer is feeling blue.". The Los Angeles Times. 
  43. ^ Crist, Steven (1990-01-30). "HORSE RACING; Sunday Silence does the expected - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  44. ^ Moran, Paul (November 21, 1989). "RACING VIEWS : Too Long a Wait for Rematch of Top 2 Horses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 
  45. ^ a b Crist, Steven (October 6, 1989). "NOTEBOOK; Easy Goer Closing In on a 3-Year-Old Season Worthy of Secretariat". The New York Times. 
  46. ^ http://www.jockeysite.com/stories/easygoer.htm
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  48. ^ http://www.hitak.com/home/alydar/easygoer.html
  49. ^ Crist, Steven (July 5, 1990). "An Aggressive Easy Goer Wins Suburban". The New York Times. 
  50. ^ Crist, Steven (May 29, 1990). "Criminal Type Outruns Housebuster and Easy Goer at Belmont". The New York Times. 
  51. ^ Crist, Steven (July 19, 1990). "Easy Goer Is Retired After Bone Chip Is Found". The New York Times. 
  52. ^ Jerardi, Dick (June 24, 1994). "Reserved For Racing Legends Only Lure Could Earn Claiborne's Coveted Stall". The Inquirer. 
  53. ^ Lazzarino, Chris (May 13, 1994). "Easy Goer Collapses, Dies". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  54. ^ Lazzarino, Chris (May 29, 1994). "Gambler keeps placing big bets, but he won't show". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 13, 2012. 
  55. ^ "Stallion Register" (PDF). Blood Horse Publications. 
  56. ^ "NJ Stallion Unbridled Jet dies". Bloodhorse.com. July 11, 2011. 
  57. ^ "Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame Inductees-Jay Trump". mdthoroughbredhalloffame.com. 2013. 

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