Chinook Pass, one of the fastest thoroughbreds in history and the only Washington-bred to win an Eclipse Award, was euthanized Monday at owner Jill Hallin’s farm in Maple Valley.
Chinook Pass, who was 31-years-old, had been the oldest living Eclipse Award-winner.
According to Hallin, Chinook Pass had a high pulse rate and was in distress from heart malfunction.
“He brought so much joy to my life,” Hallin said, who had owned Chinook Pass since 1988. “It’s a very sad day, but he had a long and wonderful life.”
Born April 28, 1979, at Dewaine Moore’s Rainier Stables in Enumclaw, Chinook Pass won 16-of-25 starts, including 12 stakes races, and $480,073 for owner Ed Purvis and trainers Bud Klokstad and Laurie Anderson. The son of Native Born-Yu Turn won the 1983 Eclipse Award as the nation’s champion sprinter, and still holds the record for the fastest five furlongs on dirt, 55 1/5 seconds, in American racing history. Chinook Pass was voted into the inaugural class of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., who rode Chinook Pass to seven stakes victories, once paid the gelding the highest possible praise. “Affirmed (1978 Triple Crown winner) was the best horse I ever rode, but Chinook Pass was the fastest,” Pincay said.
The final start of Chinook Pass’ career was a six-length triumph in the 1983 Longacres Mile, which at that time was the biggest margin of victory in the race’s history. Unfortunately, Chinook Pass suffered a cracked splint bone in his right front foreleg during the race, and he never raced again.
Instead, Chinook Pass went on to a distinguished career as perhaps the state’s greatest racing ambassador. He appeared with Hallin several times at Emerald Downs, the last being in 2008 for the 25th anniversary of his Longacres Mile victory.
The legendary champion loved people and easily mingled with spectators. The gelding relished attention in appearances at places like the Seafair Torchlight Parade, the West Lake Plaza downtown, the Grand Ballroom of the Sea-Tac Red Lion Inn and Shoreline High School in north Seattle. And there were so many more, as Hallin generously shared Chinook Pass to an adoring public.
One appearance was particularly special. When the motion picture Seabiscuit opened in 2003, the gelding appeared on stage for the Seattle premiere at the Overlake Cinemas. The theater, packed with racing enthusiasts, was thrilled to view Washington’s own racing legend.