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Vronsky Dies of Apparent Heart Attack at 22

The son of Danzig has been a top-12 California sire since 2015.




Vronsky , a son of Danzig and a top-12 California sire for the last seven years, died of an apparent heart attack April 29 at Harris Farms after successfully covering a mare, according to Jonny Hilvers, the farm's general manager.

"For a 22-year-old he looked amazing and could not have been doing any better. He has been such a nice horse to be around all these years and he will be sorely missed," said Hilvers.

Bred by Arthur Hancock III and Stonerside out of the Lord At War stakes winner Words of War, Vronsky is a half brother to grade 1 winner No Matter What (by Nureyev), who won the Del Mar Oaks (G1T) before Vronsky was offered at the 2000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. International bloodstock agent Demi O'Byrne bought the colt for $1 million out of Stone Farm's consignment. The investment seemed more solid when the following year Vronsky's half brother E Dubai (by Mr. Prospector) won the Dwyer Stakes (G2) and was second in the Travers Stakes (G1) and Super Derby (G1).

Vronsky never won a stakes but he compiled a 3-3-2 record from 11 starts and earned $135,247 racing for owner Steve Taub. He entered stud in 2005 at E. W. "Buddy" Johnston's Old English Rancho near Sanger, Calif. In 2018, Old English Rancho and Harris Farms combined their breeding ventures and all the Old English Rancho stallions were relocated to Harris Farms. Hilvers was general manager of Old English Rancho for eight years and is grandson of Johnston and great-grandson of Ellwood "The Pie Man" Johnston, who founded Old English Rancho.

From 14 crops of racing age, including this year's 2-year-olds, Vronsky sired 151 winners and 12 black-type winners. His top performers included 2016 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1T) winner What a View, grade 2 winner Norvsky, grade 3 victor Poshsky, and multiple 2021 grade 3-placed stakes winner Closing Remarks and grade 2-placed stakes winner The Chosen Vron.

While Vronsky's runners notched more wins by total and percentage on dirt, his stakes winners performed equally well on dirt and turf. He sired eight black-type winners on dirt and seven on turf. His top performer on dirt was his daughter Rovenna, who won the Melair Stakes and Evening Jewel Stakes in 2014 at Santa Anita Park. She earned $419,030.

Vronsky's runners have amassed more than $15.87 million in earnings through May 2 and averaged $72,478 per runner. He rose as high as sixth among the leading California sires in 2016 with four stakes winners, five stakes performers, and progeny earnings exceeding $2.07 million. So far this year, he is eighth among the state's leading sires and is the leading sire by number of stakes winners to date with two.