by Steve Bailey/Thoroughbred Times

Alysheba, the oldest living Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, is returning to the United States to live at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Racing Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who piloted the Alydar horse to his greatest triumphs, made the announcement late Wednesday night at the annual National Turf Writers Association Awards Dinner at historic Castle Green in Pasadena, California.

After spending the first ten years of his stud career at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, Alysheba was purchased in February 2000 by Saudi Arabian Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and was sent to stand at the prince’s Janadriyah Stud Farm on the outskirts of the capital city of Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is sending Alysheba to the Horse Park as a gift to the American people.

“His Royal Highness King Abdullah realized how much Alysheba means to American racing fans and we are grateful for this magnanimous gift of one of his favorite horses to our country,” said John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park. “We are grateful as well for the great care His Majesty has provided for Alysheba.”

Alysheba’s comfort on the overseas journey was of prime concern to King Abdullah, who arranged for the Derby winner’s two-month pre-export quarantine to be spent in the luxury of the Nad al Sheba Quarantine Center in Dubai.

“Shipping a 24-year-old horse is not without risk, so we had to take every precaution to ensure that the process was stress free,” said Frank McGovern, manager of King Abdullah’s stables. “We are very thankful to the Nad al Sheba Quarantine team for the care and attention they gave Alysheba during his stay there.”

In addition to his victories in the 1987 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1), Alysheba won the ’88 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Woodward Handicap (G1), and Meadowlands Cup Handicap (G1) and the ’87 Super Derby (G1).

Alysheba closed out his career on a dark, rainy evening at Churchill Downs, winning the Classic over Seeking the Gold, Waquoit, Forty Niner, and Cutlass Reality to secure Horse of the Year and champion older horse honors.

Trained by Racing Hall of Fame conditioner Jack Van Berg, Alysheba, who also was named champion three-year-old colt in ’87, won 11 of 26 career starts and retired with earnings of $6,679,242.

At the time of his retirement, Alysheba was the richest Thoroughbred of all time. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1993.

Upon the death of 1980 Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk in August, Alysheba, who was out of the Lt. Stevens mare Bel Sheba, became the oldest living Derby winner.