An Eclipse Award winner as the leading turf horse in 1997 and twice honored with Sovereign Awards as Canada’s Horse of the Year, “The Chief” retired following the 1998 season with earnings of $3.4 million for his owner, Ernie Samuel of Sam-Son Farms. Bred by Richard D. Maynard, Chief Bearhart often thrilled fans with his late-rallying style of charging from well off the pace. But it was never more dramatic than in the 1997 $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Hollywood in California as he defeated the world’s leading grass specialists. That win, along with his victory in the Canadian International at Woodbine, enabled him to earn the votes of U.S. selectors as North America’s champion turf horse.
The turf was Chief Bearhart’s domain, a fact that he proved so many times during a career that didn’t really begin until he was age three. Unplaced in his only start as a 2-year-old and sidelined for much of that 1995 season with a bone chip in his ankle, Chief Bearhart broke his maiden at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana in January. After a fourth place finish in the Queen’s Plate, his last start on the dirt, trainer Mark Frostad wisely kept the chestnut son of Chief’s Crown on the lawn for the remainder of his career. He earned turf honors in 1996 when he won the Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine and was beaten just two lengths to European champion Singspiel in the Canadian International.
At age four he added more than $2 million to his bankroll with stakes victories at Keeneland, Woodbine and Hollywood and his first Horse of the Year title in Canada. In his final season Chief Bearhart set a course record at Belmont in winning the Manhattan Handicap. At home he won the Niagara Breeders’ Cup Handicap and the Sky Classic Handicap and was second in the Canadian International to English invader Royal Anthem and fourth by three lengths at Churchill Downs in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. His final race was in Tokyo in the Japan Cup, when he was fourth in a 15-horse field. “The Chief” won 12 of 26 races and was in the money 20 times, and earned six Sovereign Awards