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Gato Del Sol
Sire Cougar II
Grandsire Tale of Two Cities
Dam Peacefully
Damsire Jacinto
Sex Stallion
Foaled February 23, 1979
Country United States United States
Colour Gray
Breeder Arthur B. Hancock III & Leone J. Peters
Owner Arthur B. Hancock III & Leone J. Peters
Trainer Edwin J. Gregson
Charles E. Whittingham
Record 39: 7-9-7
Earnings $1,340,107
Major wins
Del Mar Futurity (1981)
Kentucky Derby (1982)
Infobox last updated on: June 7, 2007.

Gato Del Sol (February 23, 1979 – August 7, 2007) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse. He was foaled at Stone Farm in Paris, Kentucky, the son of U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Cougar II, and out of the mare Peacefully whose grandsire was Bold Ruler, another Hall of Fame champion and an eight-time Leading sire in North America.

Gato Del Sol was owned and bred by Stone Farm proprietor Arthur B. Hancock III in partnership with one of his longtime clients, Manhattan real estate broker Leone J. Peters.[1] The two men also bred Risen Star, winner of the 1988 Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Trained by Eddie Gregson, Gato Del Sol made his debut at Hollywood Park in 1981, beaten in his first two races. In his third start, at Del Mar Racetrack, he won for the first time then after a third-place finish in the Balboa Stakes, won the Del Mar Futurity. In his three-year-old campaign, Gato del Sol was winless going into the Kentucky Derby but had been second in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course.

1982 Kentucky Derby

Given little chance by Churchill Downs bettors against the favored Wood Memorial Stakes winner Air Forbes Won, Gato Del Sol was sent off at odds of 21-1, the third longest in the race. He trailed the nineteen-horse field in the 1 1/4 mile race almost from the start, but under jockey Eddie Delahoussaye began making a move after half a mile and by the mile pole had moved up to fifth place. He continued to gain ground as the field moved down the homestretch, with six horses spread across the track racing head-to-head. By the final furlong marker, Gato Del Sol had moved to the lead by a half-length and then pulled away to win by a total of 2 1/2 lengths. He paid $44.40 to win, the 10th-highest payoff in Derby history.

Immediately following his Derby win, Gato Del Sol's handlers decided to bypass the Preakness Stakes with its shorter distance and tighter turns. Instead, they rested their horse for the 1½ mile Belmont Stakes. Their decision marked the first time in twenty-three years that the Kentucky Derby winner chose not to try for the Triple Crown. However, Gato Del Sol finished second in the Belmont Stakes, fourteen lengths back of Henryk de Kwiatkowski's colt, Conquistador Cielo.

After his Belmont race, Gato Del Sol remained racing on the New York circuit for the remainder of the 1982 season. He was a disappointing eighth in the Suburban Handicap then won an Allowance race before his run in the prestigious Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. The race that year had as its entrants each of the winners of the three American Classics. In addition to Derby winner Gato Del Sol, the competition included the Preakness Stakes victor Aloma's Ruler, and the Belmont Stakes winner Conquistador Cielo. However, fans watching the Travers Stakes witnessed a brilliant stretch run by the Canadian outsider Runaway Groom to win the race and become the only horse in American racing history to defeat the winner of the three classics in the same race. Gato Del Sol, who finished fifth, came out of the race with an ankle injury that ended his 1982 season.

Gato Del Sol returned to race on the West Coast in mid May 1983. He won two of nine starts including the Cabrillo Handicap at Del Mar Racetrack then in 1984 would be switched to running on turf. Nonethess, he went winless, notably finishing eighth in the 1984 Breeders' Cup Turf. In his fifth year of racing, Gato Del Sol started twice, finishing second in the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile Stakes and winning the 1985 Caballero Handicap at Hollywood Park Racetrack.

Retired to stud duty at Stone Farm, Gato Del Sol had little success as a sire. He was eventually sold and in 1993 ended up at a breeding operation in Germany where he continued to under perform. In 2000, his original co-owner, Arthur Hancock III and his wife Staci, arranged to buy Gato Del Sol back in order to eliminate any possibility that he be subjected to the same fate as another American champion, Exceller, who met an ignominious death in a Swedish slaughterhouse.

Pensioned, Gato Del Sol spent the remainder of his days on the farm where he was foaled and, on August 7, 2007, he had to be euthanized because of health complications at the age of 28.[1]


  1. ^ Lowe, Jeff (2007-08-08). "Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol euthanized at 28". Thoroughbred Times. Retrieved 2007-08-09.  


  • Not only was Gato del Sol the first Derby winner for Arthur Hancock III, it was the first Derby winner owned by a member of the famed Hancock family of Claiborne Farm whose business was primarily that of breeders. Arthur later won a second Derby title as owner of Sunday Silence.
  • Stone Farm is a sponsor of the University of Kentucky Solar Car Team, with Gato Del Sol serving as the namesake for the local team's solar-powered cars.
  • Gato Del Sol was the origin of the namesake Gastr Del Sol; Post Rock outfit headed by Louisville native David Grubbs.


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