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 • Melbourne
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Phar Lap
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Birth: Oct. 4, 1926
Timaru
Canterbury, New Zealand
Death: Apr. 5, 1932
Menlo Park
San Mateo County
California, USA

Australian Racehorse. This big chestnut gelding with a name derived from the Thai word for lightning, "Phar Lap" is an Australian legend. Fifty years after his death, his mounted hide, the work of expert taxidermists in New York, the Jonas Brothers taking four months, created a masterpiece of taxidermy, which still attracts thousands each year to the National Museum in Melbourne. In his long career, this amazing equine, started 51 times, recording 37 wins, 2 second, 3 thirds and 9 unplaced runs. However, he is remembered in America for only one race and the mysterious manner of his death. The horse had won every major race in Australia...Melbourne Cup, AJC Derby, Victoria Derby, WS Cox Plate, (twice) however, the purses were small. Phar Lap's owner, American born business man, David Davis, had his eye set on the rich American horse racing circuit and a dream of garnering larger purses. In 1932, the horse was loaded aboard a ship for his ill fated sea voyage to San Diego. Phar Lap was entered to run in the Agua Caliente Handicap, at an American owned track located in Mexico, (Caliente now defunct) a casino-resort complex located a few miles south of the city. The race at that time paid the largest purse in the world paired down due to the depression from one hundred thousand to fifty. Phar Lap, although overweight and racing against top class horses, won by two lengths while smashing the course record. He was taken to a horse farm in northern California located in Menlo Park for boarding and further training while his owner arranged for additional race track appearances around the country. He would never race again as two weeks after arrival, the animal suddenly died. An autopsy indicated an enlarged heart with gastric problems, but the precise cause was unclear fueling speculation to this day what illness claimed the horse. The Australians had a simple explanation, he was poisoned by gangsters controlling the American racing industry. However, Phar Lap's American tour continued, first to New York, where his hide was mounted and upon completion, the image, toured eastern American tracks before being returned to Australia. The mounting was displayed for a time at the Capitol Theatre in Melbourne before being taken to the National Museum of Victoria for permanent display. Others parts of Phar Lap...Heart to the Institute of Anatomy in Caberra and his skeleton to the Te Papa New Zealand National Museum in Wellington. Legacy...His story was made into a movie "Phar Lap" in 1983, starring Martin Vaughan and Tom Burlinson. The director was Simon Wincer who later made "Free Willy," in 1993. Several books have been authored..."Phar Lap" by Geoff Armstrong and Peter Thompson and "Phar Lap: True Legend" by Michael Reason. The champion was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, one of five charter members honored. Blood-Horse magazine ranked Phar Lap number 22 of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century. In a bit of trivia...A popular Australian song was written at the time of his passing, "Phar Lap-Farewell To You." (bio by: Donald Greyfield (inactive)) 
 
Burial:
Museum Victoria
Melbourne
Victoria, Australia
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: May 01, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 9204
Phar Lap
Added by: Ron Moody
 
Phar Lap
Added by: Donald Greyfield (inactive)
 
Phar Lap
Added by: Donald Greyfield (inactive)
 
 
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In Your Special Memory ♥.....
- Steve
 Added: Oct. 4, 2014

- Alice Morton
 Added: Oct. 4, 2014

- Rosie♥Mooch
 Added: Oct. 4, 2014
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