From Kentucky to Japan, Paradise Creek became world traveler

Paradise Creek led an interesting life.

His early days were spent in Kentucky. His owner was Bert Firestone who had arranged the breeding of his sire, Irish River, and his mother, North of Eden. Firestone owned Gulfstream Park in Florida at one time and often kept what he considered his best foals to race under his lime green racing silks that had the outline of a white diamond imprinted on the back.

Firestone employed one of the more highly regarded trainers of all time in Bill Mott. Mott knew every method to use and generated some of his own. He knew the courses to take when it came to finding a thoroughbred’s best racing distance, racing surface, and style of getting from point A to point B. He was a master. And he kept a thoroughbred’s health foremost in his plans.

Paradise Creek did his best running on grass courses.

Paradise Creek did his best running on grass courses.

Firestone knew full well of Mott’s world-class skills and he gave his trainer free rein when it came to planning the racing schedule of Paradise Creek.

Mott scanned the background of Irish River and found Nasrullah, Princequillo, Never Bend, Clarion, and Black Devil on his family tree. The ubiquitous trainer went over the genealogy of North of Eden and spied the likes of Northern Dancer, Native Dancer, Hail To Reason, Nearco, and Bull Dog.

It was decided to give Paradise Creek his first lessons on the grass. And the grass is where he would stay for most of his 25-race career.

The dark brown colt didn’t race at age two.

Mott and Firestone didn’t feel there was any lost time to be made up, but Paradise Creek did enough as a three-year-old to eclipse the accomplishments most stakes horses show in two years of trying.

He had a win in California in the Grade I Hollywood Derby. Also on his list of wins was the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes in New York.

In Illinois, he was second in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park and had another runner-up showing in the Palisaides Breeders’ Cup Handicap.

Even though his number of races were a little thin in number, Mott took Paradise Creek to the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The crowd surveyed the 14-horse field and mostly disregarded the credentials Paradise Creek showed them. He went off at odds of 31-1, one of three longshots in the race.

Paradise Creek’s jockey, Pat Day, handled the race in his usual professional and talented manner. Day was well-placed and had room to move on the leaders when he thought necessary.

Day moved to the outside. Paradise Creek rallied forward and went past all but the eventual winner, Lure. Others in the large field plowed through the stretch, but couldn’t overtake Mott’s charge.

Lure held sway by about three lengths, but such stakes stars as Arazi, Brief Truce, and Fourstars Allstar were still trailing when they hit the finish line.

As a four-year-old, injuries took their toll and Paradise Creek raced only a few times. He was second in the Kelso Handicap, but that race wasn’t until September. And he was second in the Citation Handicap in November.

It was as a five-year old that he reached the pinnacle of his three years of racing. And he stayed at the crest of the mountain.

He was the winner of the Arlington Million, the worldly Washington, D.C. International, and the Manhattan Handicap, a trio of Grade I races. The Grade II’s that he found wins in were the Canadian Turf and the Appleton.

Runner-up finishes were achieved in the Group One Japan Cup and the Bernard Baruch Handicap.

Coming into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, he would be made the 8-5 favorite with Pat Day again as his rider.

Day had him a close-up fourth and decided to move past the leaders with about a half-mile still to run. Pace-setters Vaudville and Raintap were still full of run and made it difficult to pass them.

Even after 10 furlongs of the quickened pace, Paradise Creek had a challenged lead of just a neck. But in the last 150 yards, Tikkanen edged past to win by more than a length. Paradise Creek finished third.

There had been 11 starts as a five-year-old in 1994. There had been eight wins after the year started with six straight successes. And owner Firestone was rewarded with over $2 million in Paradise Creek earnings in that year alone.

Racing honors for the 1994 season included being selected as the country’s turf champion.

A track record had been broken in the Manhattan Handicap where the win came by nearly seven lengths. In the $600,000 Washington International, the prohibitive odds of 1-5 were justified when Day and Paradise Creek won as they pleased.

The race record of 14 wins, seven seconds, and a third in his 25 races brought earnings of $3,401,415.

Retired by Firestone after his five-year-old campaign, he was purchased by a Japanese group and spent a 16-year breeding career on Hokkaido Island.

Paradise Creek had recovered from injuries incurred at age four to complete a racing career that took him from Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, California, Florida, and New York in this country to Japan for a successful life after his on-track years were over.

He had been guided by Hall of Famer Bill Mott. He had won over $3 million on the track. And he sired Japan’s 2005 two-year-old champion among other stakes winners in that country.

It had been an interesting life. In the main, because of Mott’s guidance and handling. And because of the number of on-track and off-track successes that were found.

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