Afternoon Deelites, Bacharach’s Best Runner, Dies at Old Friends

Just six days after the passing of his owner Burt Bacharach, Afternoon Deelites, a six-time graded-stakes winner, was euthanized Feb. 14 at Old Friends, the Kentucky-based thoroughbred retirement farm, due to complications from colic. He was 31.

Old Friends President and Founder Michael Blowen announced his passing Wednesday morning.

The dark bay stallion, who was the farm’s oldest resident, and was just two weeks shy of his 32nd birthday.

Bred by Blue Seas Music Inc., the son of Private Terms–Intimate Girl, by Medaille d’Or, was foaled in West Virginia on Feb. 28, 1992. For his entire racing career he was owned by Bacharach, trained by Richard Mandella, and ridden by Kent Desormeaux. He ran nine of his 12 races at West Coast tracks.

Afternoon Deelites opened his racing career in spectacular fashion, winning his first five races between 1994 and 1995, four of them stakes races.

He broke his maiden as a 2-year old in 1994, winning a maiden special weight race at Santa Anita on Oct. 23. Next out, he won the GIII Hollywood Prevue Breeders’ Cup S. to earn his first graded stakes win, and followed that up with a win in the GI Hollywood Futurity, defeating future Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch.

In 1995 as a 3-year old, Afternoon Deelites continued his winning streak with victories in the GIII San Vicente Breeders’ Cup S. and the GII San Felipe S. His final win in 1995 was in the GI Malibu S. He was second in the GI Santa Anita Derby, and eighth in the GI Kentucky Derby.

At four, Afternoon Deelites won one of his four races, the GII Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup S. at Keeneland. In his final career start, he finished second in the GI Metropolitan H. at Belmont Park on May 27.

Following that race, Afternoon Deelites was retired with seven wins, three seconds, and $1,061,193 in earnings in 12 career starts. He won six of the 11 graded stakes in which he ran..

Afternoon Deelites began his stud career in 1997 at Brereton Jones’s Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky., and stood there through 2003. He then moved to Clear Creek Stud, LLC, in Folsom, La., where he stood the rest of his career.

His top progeny included graded stakes winners Zappa, Three Hour Nap, and Miss Pickums. He also sired recently deceased Old Friends retiree Popcorn Deelites, who starred in the 2003 movie Seabiscuit, based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand.

Afternoon Deelites was pensioned in 2011, and sent to Old Friends courtesy of Val Murrell of Clear Creek Stud.

“Afternoon Deelites was a beautiful friend,” said Blowen. “I remember Kent Desormeaux standing in front of his stall a few years ago saying ‘Michael, I won the Kentucky Derby on Real Quiet, Fusaichi Pegasus, and Big Brown, and this is the fastest horse I ever rode.’ And he was one of the best retirees who ever called Old Friends home.

“Thanks to Burt, his ex-wife, Angie Dickinson, and his widow, Jane, for loving Afternoon Deelites as much as we did.”

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