Charismatic Obituary

Charismatic at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

From Michael:

Sometimes the gods are just plain cruel. After more than a decade of working with the Japanese Bloodstock Breeders Association planning for the day when Charismatic could return to his fans in America, the dream finally came true. Last October, when Kaori Matsuda emailed me that Charismatic could retire to Old Friends, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. Then, when he arrived in December, he was as kind and beautiful and majestic as you could ever imagine. When D. Wayne Lukas arrived the next morning, he concurred. Life just never gets better than those infrequent moments when fantasies become reality.

And then, it all ended with a pre-dawn knock on the door and Tammy screaming, “Charismatic’s dead.” It ended as quickly as the snap of Charismatic’s pelvis. We are left, of course, with memories that only he could have so generously left us. His proud brown eyes. His flashy chestnut coat and four white socks, and a self-assurance that only comes with winning the biggest races on the biggest stages. As Lukas has often said, “You’d better dwell on the positives or the negatives will eat you alive.” I’m sure he gave the same advice to Charismatic.

Kentucky Derby Winner Charismatic Dies from Pelvic Fracture

GEORGETOWN, KY – FEBRUARY 21, 2017- Charismatic, 1999 dual classic winner and Horse of the Year, died suddenly at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in Georgetown, KY on February 19, 2017.

“A necropsy performed at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory revealed that Charismatic suffered a severe catastrophic fracture of his pelvis that resulted in fatal bleeding. Pelvic fractures will in some cases also lacerate the large arteries of the pelvis and cause severe internal bleeding. Fatal pelvic fractures are uncommon and usually unforeseeable. It is not possible to know exactly how the injury happened or any factors that may have led to its occurrence.”

–Bryan M. Waldridge, DVM, MS
Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (Equine Practice)
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Large Animal)

–Rhodes P. Bell, DVM, MS
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons (Large Animal)

Staff members and volunteers at Old Friends are extremely grateful for the heartfelt condolences and kind words we have received.  Charismatic’s beauty and gentle spirit will remain in our hearts forever.

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for more than 165 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322,; Michael Blowen, (502) 863-1775,

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