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Dual Classic Winner, Hall of Famer Point Given Dies

Point Given, who landed Horse of the Year honors in 2001 off of a pair of classic wins and four straight grade 1 scores, died Sept. 11 at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions.

“Point Given was a special horse, loved by all, and a wonderful ambassador for the Kentucky Horse Park,” said Kentucky Horse Park president Lee Carter. “We are saddened by his passing but grateful for the memories created and our time with the Big Red Train.”

Owned and bred by The Thoroughbred Corp., and trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Thunder Gulch won six grade 1 races, including two legs of the 2001 Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1). For his efforts, he received Eclipse Awards as Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old colt. Point Given is one of five Horses of the Year to call the Hall of Champions home.

“Not only was Point Given a dual classic-winning Hall of Famer, but he was also an excellent ambassador for horse racing and the state of Kentucky,” said Hall of Champions supervisor Rob Willis. “He was a big stallion that was fun to be around. Countless visitors enjoyed being in his presence over the years. It was an honor to care for him during his retirement. His presence will be missed.”

Point Given earned $3,968,500 with nine wins and three second-place finishes from 13 starts. He was the first horse in history to win four $1 million races in a row, which included the Preakness, the Belmont, Haskell Invitational Handicap (G1), and the Travers Stakes (G1). He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2010. 

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“I’m saddened to hear of Point Given’s passing,” said retired jockey Gary Stevens, who was aboard for all of Point Given’s starts in 2001. “He was, to me, the greatest horse to not win the Triple Crown. It was an honor to ride such a phenomenal horse. Rest in peace, PG.”

During the 37-year Triple Crown drought bookended by Affirmed in 1978 and American Pharoah   in 2015, most of the near-miss stories focus on horses that won the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness but came up short in the Belmont. But Point Given most assuredly is up there with Spectacular Bid and Big Brown   as one of the most dominating 3-year-olds not to win the Triple Crown, although in his case the drama ended when he finished fifth in the Derby as the 9-5 favorite.

After that Derby finish, Point Given made sure to leave his mark. He rolled to a 2 1/4-length victory in the Preakness and a 12 1/4-length score in the Belmont. For good measure he continued to dominate his class that summer, scoring victories in the Haskell and Travers. The son of Thunder Gulch also won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in the spring. A 2 he won the Hollywood Futurity (G1) and finished second by a nose to Macho Uno in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Upon hearing the news Monday, trainer Bob Baffert recalled Point Given’s racing ability and physical size—in his racing days “The Big Red Train” measured 17 hands and weighed 1,280 pounds.

“Point Given was so big and feisty in the barn we called him T Rex. What he wrecked was the opposition,” Baffert said. “He was the greatest of his generation and will live in our hearts forever.”

In the days before the 2001 Belmont had even been run, Stevens said, “The Derby defeat is going to be disappointing forever, knowing that racing probably was deprived of a Triple Crown winner.”

A tendon injury discovered after the Travers would see the connections decide to retire Point Given.

Point Given wins the 2001 Belmont Stakes
Photo: Coglianese Photos

Point Given wins the 2001 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park

As a stallion, Point Given was a fixture at Three Chimneys Farm for more than a decade before wrapping up his career with five years at Calumet Farm. After the 2017 season he made his way to the Kentucky Horse Park Hall of Champions.

Point Given is the sire of 2007 Canadian Filly Triple Crown winner Sealy Hill, who that season in Canada earned Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old filly, and champion turf horse honors. Other top runners for Point Given include 2009 Canadian champion grass mare Points of Grace, 2008 Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) winner Go Between , and Coil , who followed in his father’s footsteps by winning the 2011 Haskell. He sired more than 30 stakes winners.

A homebred for Prince Ahmed bin Salman’s The Thoroughbred Corp., Kentucky-bred Point Given was out of the Turkoman mare Turko’s Turn. Saudi Prince Ahmed bin Salman died one year after Point Given’s 3-year-old season and just months after winning the 2002 Kentucky Derby with War Emblem. The Prince was just 43 when he passed away in Saudi Arabia. 

Like other great Hall of Champions horses, Point Given will be buried at the park’s Memorial Walk of Champions alongside past Thoroughbred residents Funny Cide, Go for Gin, Forego, Bold Forbes, John Henry, Alysheba, and Da Hoss. A public memorial service will be held at a future date.

Bob Ehalt contributed to this story.

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