1999 Kentucky Derby Winner Charismatic Passes Away

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D.S. Williamson

February 24th, 2017

mediaA few days ago, one of my favorite horses of all time passed away at Old Friends in Lexington, Kentucky. Charismatic passed away at the age of 21. Not bad for a racehorse. I was there at Santa Anita Park on April 3, 1999 when Charismatic finished fourth to the Bob Baffert trained General Challenge. Charismatic went off of at over 44 to 1 that day. Did I bet on him?

Of course, I did!  D. Wayne Lukas trained Charismatic. Back then, Lukas still owned the Triple Crown races.  I also loved his breeding. Sired by Summer Squall, who had finished second in the 1990 Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness, I knew that Charismatic had the breeding to be a decent three-year-old. I was wrong on that day. But, the horse and his connections proved me right a couple of weeks later in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes. Charismatic paid $26.20. I was a Charismatic fan forever.

Check out Charismatic's Triple Crown races:





1999 Belmont Stakes

The supremely talented, but ill-fated Chris Antley took a lot of heat for pressing Baffert trained Silverbulletday early in the Belmont. I'm not sure the heat was warranted. We all know that it takes a special horse to win the Triple Crown. American Pharoah would do it 16 years later in 2015. Charismatic went off at 8/5 to do it in 1999. If Antley hadn't pressed Silverbulletday, she probably would have gotten away with a :48 half-mile. Silverbulletday was as quality as they get. She may have wired the field with a :48 half-mile.

Charismatic ran as hard as he could to the wire. Even when he hurt himself, he kept running hard. If Antley hadn't jumped off, he might have hurt himself more. Antley, who died of a multiple drug overdose in 2000, may have saved Charismatic's life by his actions.


1999 Preakness Stakes

Antley took Charismatic back in the 1999 Preakness Stakes. It turned out to be the right choice. Kimberlite Pipe, Cat Thief, and Vicar ran the half in :45.27. That's fast. Even at Pimlico, where speed usually holds, that's fast. When Antley pushed the button, Charismatic took off. Menifee, Charismatic's main rival in the Triple Crown races, wasn't going to get to Charismatic no matter what. It was a great ride by Antley.


1999 Kentucky Derby

What do jockeys always say? If they don't save ground around the first turn, they try and save ground around the second turn? Not Chris Antley in the 1999 Kentucky Derby. He didn't try to get fancy on Charismatic. Instead, he parked Charismatic wide around both turns. Although I can't question Antley's ride in the 1999 Kentucky Derby, I have to admit that the win had more to do with Charismatic than it did with Chris Antley.

Maybe, Chris knew what kind of monster he sat on. Antley let Charismatic determine what they were going to do early in the race. He let the horse relax before the final turn. Then, like he did in the Preakness, Antley let Charismatic loose.

As a horseplayer, some thoroughbreds stay with you forever. Charismatic was one thoroughbred that will stay with me forever.