Grand Sire:
Raise a Native
Bel Sheba
Dam Sire:
Lt. Stevens
Birth Date:
Death Date:
Preston W. Madden
Dorothy & Pamela Scharbauer
Jack Van Berg

Major Race Wins
Kentucky Derby (1987)
Preakness Stakes (1987)
Super Derby (1987)
Santa Anita Handicap (1988)
Strub Stakes (1988)
Woodward Stakes (1988)
San Bernardino Handicap (1988)
Philip H. Iselin Handicap (1988)
Meadowlands Cup (1988)
Breeders' Cup Classic (1988)

Awards / Honors
U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt (1987)
U.S. Champion Older Male Horse (1988)
United States Horse of the Year (1988)

Alysheba was an American Thoroughbred race horse; a bay colt, sired by Alydar out of the mare Bel Sheba, by Lt. Stevens. Bred by Preston Madden at Hamburg Place Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, Alysheba was sold as a yearling to Dorothy and Pam Scharbauer for $500,000.

Trained by Jack Van Berg, in 1986 Alysheba had a less than spectacular two-year-old season, winning only a maiden race. He finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and lost the Hollywood Futurity in a photo finish. As a three year old, he underperformed in his prep races for the Kentucky Derby until it was discovered that he had an entrapped epiglottis. Surgery was successful, and he was entered in the Derby despite having only a maiden victory.

Triple Crown Races

In the Derby, he was nearly knocked to the ground along with jockey Chris McCarron at the top of the stretch by Bet Twice, who would become a major rival. In their entire careers, Alysheba and Bet Twice would meet a total of 9 times. Amazingly, their great rivalry would end in 1988 with Alysheba defeating Bet Twice 5 times, with Bet Twice defeating Alysheba 4 times. A truly amazing rivalry ended extremely close between the two horses.

He was able to recover and won the Derby in slow time, 2:03 4/5 for 1 1/4 miles. He then came back with another win in the Preakness Stakes, and attempted to become American racing's 12th Triple Crown winner in the Belmont Stakes.

In the Belmont, Alysheba was required to race without the medication Lasix, which was prohibited at the time in New York racing. He ran a dull race, finishing fourth as Bet Twice won by 14 lengths. He next went to Monmouth Park for the Haskell Invitational, where he met Bet Twice as well as Lost Code, a top-class speed horse who had won several Derbies run at minor racetracks. The three horses finished right together at the wire, with Bet Twice winning in a driving finish. Later in the year, he lost to Java Gold on an off track in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, then won the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, his final preparation race for the Breeders' Cup Classic, at the time the world's richest horse race.

Breeders' Cup

In the Breeders' Cup Classic, he met 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand in the first meeting of Kentucky Derby winners since Affirmed met Spectacular Bid in the 1979 Jockey Club Gold Cup. The race lived up to expectations, with Ferdinand, ridden by 56 year old Willie Shoemaker, beating Alysheba in a photo finish by a nose. Alysheba lost the Horse of the Year vote to Ferdinand but was named Champion Three Year Old of 1987.

As a Four-Year-Old

As a four-year-old in 1988, Alysheba won six grade I stakes. At Santa Anita, he won the Charles H. Strub Stakes over Candi's Gold. Then he turned the tables on his nemesis Ferdinand with wins in the Santa Anita Handicap and, in another photo finish, the San Bernardino Handicap, with each horse carrying 127 pounds.

Alysheba suffered a loss to his old foes Bet Twice and Lost Code in the Pimlico Special, which was revived for the first time in three decades. He suffered another loss to Cutlass Reality, who upset both Alysheba and Ferdinand in the Derby winners' final meeting in the Hollywood Gold Cup. Alysheba then defeated Bet Twice in the Philip K. Islelin Handicap at Monmouth.

In the 35th running of the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park, Alysheba beat an outstanding field, including 1988 Travers 1-2 finishers Forty Niner and Seeking the Gold, eventual Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Waquoit, and Florida Derby winner Brian's Time. He ran the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59 2/5, setting a track record. He also set the track record for 1 1/4 miles at The Meadowlands in the Meadowlands Cup. Alysheba became the only horse in the modern era to run 10 furlongs under 2:00 three times in one calendar year.

Alysheba closed out his career on a dark, rainy evening at Churchill Downs, winning the Breeders' Cup Classic over Seeking the Gold, Waquoit (one of the most noted off-track runners of the time), Forty Niner, and Cutlass Reality, and securing Horse of the Year and champion older horse honors.

Alysheba was ridden in 17 consecutive starts by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron. He finished his career with a record of 11-8-2, out of 26 starts. His earnings totaled $6,679,242, which was a U.S. record at the time.


Besides his three Eclipse Awards for 1988 Horse of the Year, 1988 Champion Older Male, and 1987 Champion Three-Year-Old Male, Alysheba won other honors. In 1993, he was inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Alysheba was ranked #42.

A statue of Alysheba was erected at the front entrance to the AEGON Center in Downtown, Louisville, Kentucky. [1]

Breeding Career

Alysheba stood at stud at Lane's End Farm in Woodford County, Kentucky until 1999 when he was sold to a breeding operation in Saudi Arabia. Alysheba sired eleven stakes winners of which his best was 1994 Canadian Horse of the Year Alywow. [2]Other offspring of note was multiple stakes winner, Desert Waves. Upon the death of Genuine Risk in August 2008, Alysheba became the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner.

Alysheba's Return Home

In October of 2008, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia returned Alysheba to his homeland, as a gift to the American people. After spending eight years in the king's royal stables, Alysheba returned to the United States to live at the Kentucky Horse Park. He lived in the stall formerly occupied by Horse of the Year John Henry, and across the aisle from Cigar, the leading money-earning American Thoroughbred until surpassed by Curlin in 2008.


On Friday, March 27th 2009, at 11:13 pm, Alysheba was euthanized at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. "Due to a chronic degenerative spinal condition that led to ataxia and instability, Alysheba fell in his stall yesterday injuring his right hind femur," said Kathy Hopkins, the Horse Park's director of equine operations. "Complicated by his advanced age, this trauma resulted in severe pain that did not respond to analgesic therapy. The resulting pain and suffering, and the inability to stand unaided, led to a joint decision for euthanasia." Alysheba was buried on Saturday, March 28 at the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions across from the grave of the great John Henry.

<< Return to Horses

Connect With Us:
Connect with 9thRace on Twitter Connect with 9thRace on Facebook Connect with 9thRace on G+