Pulpit Horse Cause of Death: The End of a Legendary Sire

Pulpit, one of the most influential sires in American Thoroughbred racing, died unexpectedly in his paddock at Claiborne Farm on December 6, 2012. He was 18 years old and had shown no signs of illness or injury prior to his death. His passing marked the loss of a great stallion who had left a lasting legacy on the sport and the industry.

A Promising Racehorse

Pulpit was born on February 15, 1994, at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky. He was bred by the farm, which had purchased his fifth dam, Knight’s Daughter, in 1951. Knight’s Daughter produced Hall of Fame inductee Round Table and his full sister Monarchy, who founded a successful female family. Pulpit’s dam was Preach, a Grade I winner and a daughter of Mr. Prospector. Pulpit’s sire was A.P. Indy, the 1992 American Horse of the Year and a son of Seattle Slew.

Pulpit did not race as a two-year-old due to some minor setbacks. He made his debut in January 1997 and won his first three starts, including the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He then finished second in the Grade I Florida Derby and won the Grade II Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland by 3 1/2 lengths. He was considered one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby, but he finished fourth behind Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit, and Free House. He suffered an injury to his left hind leg during the race and was retired to stud shortly thereafter.

A Prolific Sire

Pulpit entered stud at his birthplace in 1998 and proved to be a very successful sire. He produced 63 stakes winners, including 11 Grade I winners. His progeny earned more than $60 million and included champions and Breeders’ Cup winners. Some of his notable offspring were:

  • Corinthian, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Metropolitan Handicap.
  • Ice Box, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and winner of the Florida Derby.
  • Lucky Pulpit, sire of California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year and winner of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Dubai World Cup.
  • Pyro, winner of the Louisiana Derby and the Forego Stakes.
  • Sky Mesa, winner of the Hopeful Stakes and the sire of multiple Grade I winners.
  • Stroll, winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and the sire of Ascend, winner of the Manhattan Stakes.
  • Tapit, winner of the Wood Memorial and the leading sire in North America for four consecutive years (2014-2017).

Pulpit also had a significant impact as a sire of sires. His son Tapit sired 10 Grade I winners, including champions Hansen and Stardom Bound, and the winners of the Kentucky Oaks (Untapable), the Belmont Stakes (Tonalist and Creator), and the Travers Stakes (Frosted and Tapwrit). Pulpit’s other sons at stud included Corinthian, Ice Box, Parading, Sightseeing, Sky Mesa, and Stroll.

Pulpit Horse Cause of Death and Legacy

Pulpit died in his paddock at Claiborne Farm on December 6, 2012. He had shown no signs of illness or injury prior to his death, according to the farm manager Bradley Purcell. He was buried at the farm, where he had spent his entire life. His death was mourned by the racing community and the fans, who recognized his contributions to the sport and the industry.