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Prominent California Sire Old Topper Dies at 26

Old Topper was California's leading first-, second-, and third-crop sire in 2004-06.

Old Topper at Tommy Town Thoroughbreds

Old Topper at Tommy Town Thoroughbreds

Ron Mesaros

Multiple leading California stallion Old Topper was euthanized due to issues associated with old age, according to Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, where the multiple graded stakes winner stood for his entire stud career. He was 26.

The son of Gilded Time was the most accomplished runner produced by Shy Trick, a grade 3-placed winning daughter of Phone Trick. Bred in Kentucky by Frances Jelks and raced by owner Barbara Hunter with trainer Noble Threewitt, Old Topper was a winner each of the seasons he raced from 2 to 5, winning or placing in 12 black-type stakes along the way. His best victories came in the 1997 Best Pal Stakes (G3) at 2 and the Pat O'Brien Handicap (G3) at 3, in which he upset multiple grade 2 winner Son of a Pistol. He also had runner-up finishes in the Del Mar Futurity (G2), Affirmed Handicap (G3), and Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (G2). Old Topper retired with a 7-6-4 record from 25 starts and earned $655,861.

Old Topper became one of the first stallions to stand at Tommy Town soon after it was acquired by Tom and Debi Stull. They believed in the young stallion so strongly that they announced all 2003 and 2004 stud fees for the Old Topper would be refunded if he was not the leading California stallion by the end of 2004.

"We were able to judge his first foals," Tom Stull said at the time he announced this then-innovative incentive. "We were able to see how good they looked by conformation and when they were running in the field. I felt they would be precocious. I wanted to support him and felt I needed to make a commitment so people would come out and look at his babies."

Old Topper became California's leading freshman sire in 2004 and was among the top 10 freshman sires of North America by number of stakes horses that year. He went on to be the state's leading second-crop sire the next year and the leading third-crop sire in 2006.

"He was a big horse for us that brought in a lot of mares," said Mike Allen, Tommy Town's farm manager. "The runners he sired were sound and lasted a long time, and they tried hard every time."

Old Topper sired 21 black-type winners and another 22 black-type performers led by Queen Bee to You and Top Kisser, who were both grade 3 winners and won multiple stakes. The stallion's top earner was four-time stakes winner Ain't No Other, who earned $715,280. He is the sire of undefeated 3-year-old filly Becca Taylor, a Nick Alexander homebred who won the April 3 Evening Jewel Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Old Topper's progeny have earned a collective $23,209,063 so far, averaging $50,897 per runner.

Pensioned in 2019, Old Topper had been struggling increasingly with issues associated with arthritis this year, which led to the decision to euthanize him, according to Allen.