Other Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort horses won more races and earned more money, but Chindi received affection that many never receive.
Belonging in a pantheon of Oaklawn starters, his signature win came in the 1998 Grade III Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. Chindi died Thursday at age 29, said the grandson of owner Carol Ricks.
Renowned for racing, then for serving trainer Steve Hobby as a stable pony, Chindi was euthanized, Daily Racing Form reported, after showing signs of neurological stress in an age-related situation.
His racing career behind him, Chindi became a fixture on Oaklawn and Churchill Downs backstretches during training hours.
"Steve was on his back as recently as two days ago," Ran Leonard, Ricks' grandson, said Thursday. "This is all so very quick." Trying to convey a sense of personal loss, Leonard said, "He's not old. He's just Chindi."
Chindi had a retirement party when his racing career ended in 2005, jogging before the public at Oaklawn under regular jockey Tim Doocy. In 2020, Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe declared March 16 as Chindi Day in Hot Springs. Chindi was part of a winner's circle presentation in which a proclamation was read commemorating him for being an "equine ambassador" for the local track.
"Everybody wants to see Chindi," Ricks said in a 2018 interview with Daily Racing Form.
Leonard told the publication that Hobby, "who cares for all his horses, cared for Chindi above and beyond. He got to lead a long life. Steve did everything right by the horse."
A late-running gray who was instantly spotted on track, Chindi won 18 of 81 starts including five stakes, collecting a shade over $1 million with 36 other top-three placings. His maiden victory came on the lead with Don Pettinger aboard in 1997. Late in his career, Doocy, a past Oaklawn riding champion, said Chindi responded to a left-handed whip after converting himself to a closer following a slow start one day at Lone Star Park.
Chindi, by El Prado, was the last horse his grandfather, Ran Ricks, purchased before he died, that coming privately in the horse's yearling season, Leonard said. Of his grandmother, "She's obviously very sad. She said, 'He gave us 29 years and if we had a chance to do it over again, we'd do it 1,001 times again.' "
Said Leonard: "There will never be another Chindi. There might be another come-from-behind white sprinter, but there will never be another him."