Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy) died of a suspected heart attack in his paddock at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky on Tuesday. He was 24.
"He started Spendthrift for us," said Hughes, founder of the modern-era Spendthrift. "Without Malibu Moon, we are not where we are today. It takes a special horse, and he was just that. This is a sad day."
Malibu Moon is the sire of 126 stakes winners, 51 Graded / Group winners, while his progeny is headed by 17 top-flight winners.
The stallion is also carving out a name for himself as an influential broodmare sire, with his daughters producing 48 stakes winners, including Grade / Group 1-winning sextet Stellar Wind (Curlin), Bellafina (Quality Road), By The Moon (Indian Charlie), Girvin (Tale Of Ekati), My Conquestadory (Artie Schiller) as well as this year's Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Lunar Fox (Foxwedge).
"It's a sad day for us. This is our first loss of this kind. It's tough," said Spendthrift owner and president Eric Gustavson. "You really develop a love for these beautiful, majestic animals. Even with Into Mischief taking over the mantle as 'top stallion' at the farm, Malibu Moon has always been 'the man' among our stallions. It can't be overstated how important he has been to the development of our farm. To say he will be missed just doesn't cover it. It's hard to imagine Spendthrift Farm without Malibu Moon."