Horse racing fans were saddened this week to learn that one of the sport's most prominent competitors had to be euthanized.
According to the Thoroughbred Daily News, six-time graded-stakes winner Afternoon Deelites was put down on February 14 due to complications from colic.
Afternoon Deelites had been living at a horse retirement community in Kentucky called Old Friends since he gave up racing 11 years ago.
Old Friends put out a tweet on Wednesday announcing Afternoon Deelites' passing. It noted that the horse's death came just days after his longtime owner, Burt Bacharach, had also died.
Somehow fitting that AFTERNOON DEELITES (31) passes just days after legendary owner Burt Bacharach. Honored to be his retirement home for 11 years. As classy & beautiful a friend as Burt. Photo from 2/4 running into our hearts. We’ll miss you AD. Photo @battleslaura. pic.twitter.com/9clsrOLIMh
— Old Friends (@Oldfriendsfarm) February 15, 2023
Old Friends had previously put out a similar statement regarding Bacharach's death, explaining that it had named a horse cemetery after his daughter.
We retired Burt Bacharach’s G1 winner Afternoon Deelites in 2011. He never forgot his great horse & we’ll never forget him. We named our champions cemetery after his daughter Nikki. Read Burt’s terrific autobiography Anyone Who had a Heart. He’d be honored. Extra carrots for AD. pic.twitter.com/VwEOJiECK2
— Old Friends (@Oldfriendsfarm) February 11, 2023
Fans of Afternoon Deelites took to social media following his passing and posted tributes to the fallen animal. Long-time Daily Racing Form photographer Barbara Livingston offered "condolences to all who loved" Afternoon Deelites.
Goodbye, AFTERNOON DEELITES, whose death at 31 has been announced by @Oldfriendsfarm .
By Private Terms-Intimate Girl, by Medaille d'Or, West VA-bred AFTERNOON DEELITES won 7 of 12 starts for breeder/owner Burt Bacharach, trainer Dick Mandella.
Condolences to all who loved him. pic.twitter.com/8yd3D8w1Ls
— Barbara Livingston (@DRFLivingston) February 15, 2023
Afternoon Deelites' online obituary explained that at the time of his death he was Old Farm's oldest resident, just two weeks shy of turning 32.
The obituary recalled how "Afternoon Deelites opened his racing career in spectacular fashion, winning his first five races between 1994 and 1995; four of them stakes races."
"Afternoon Deelites’ 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, which was based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand," it continued.
Old Friends president and founder Michael Blowen was quoted as saying that Afternoon Deelites was "a beautiful friend" and "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," he added.