Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Lynn S. Whiting dies at 77

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Lynn S. Whiting, who trained Lil E. Tee to an upset victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby, died Wednesday. He was 77.

He died at his home in Louisville, Kentucky, after a struggle with cancer and a stroke he had during the winter in Arkansas, according to Oaklawn Park spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyt.

Churchill Downs said Whiting had visited the track on Monday for the first time since his stroke. He had one win in 10 starts this year.

Whiting had career earnings of $23,960,058 and 1,279 victories from 6,113 starters, according to Equibase.

His biggest win was the Derby with 17-1 long shot Lil E. Tee. The colt won by a length and paid $35.60.

“That’s the culmination of everybody’s dream that ever trained a racehorse,” Whiting said in an interview with Horse Racing Radio Network in January. “It’s a little bit like catching lighting in a bottle.”

Whiting saddled 300 winners at the Louisville track.

He spent the winter months at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he won the Rebel Stakes with Clever Allemont in 1985 and Phantom on Tour in 1997.

Among his other major victories were the 1992 Arkansas Derby with Lil E. Tee, the 1987 Louisiana Derby with J.T.’s Pet, the 1984 Ohio Derby and Arlington Classic with At the Threshold (who sired Lil E. Tee), the 1984 Haskell Invitational with Big Pistol, the 1995 Pennsylvania Derby with Pineing Patty and the 2013 Oaklawn Handicap with Cyber Secret.

Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day won his only Derby nearly 25 years ago aboard Lil E. Tee.

“I had the utmost confidence in trainer Lynn Whiting, my dear friend and astute horseman that he is,” Day said last week. “I know that if anybody could bring him up to the Derby in fine form, it would be him. When we walked in the starting gate for the Derby, I had a really good theory. I felt that we were going to get a great effort out of him, which we did. When I put him to task, he was up to the challenge and got the roses for us. It was a highlight of my racing career.”

Lil E. Tee went on to finish fifth in the Preakness and didn’t run in the Belmont Stakes. The colt had career earnings of $1,425,026.

Whiting saddled two other Derby horses: Phantom on Tour finished sixth in 1997 and At the Threshold was third in 1984.

He became a trainer in 1968 and saddled his first winner the following year at Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island.

Born June 28, 1939, in Great Falls, Montana, Whiting learned the horse business from his father, Lyle, who was a jockey and a trainer. Whiting’s grandfather was a trainer, too.

“My first experience at the track I went in a baby buggy with my mother and grandmother,” he said in the radio interview. “I was just a racetrack kid. There was never any doubt where I was headed.”

He is survived by his wife, Nell; daughters Carrie and Lori; and three grandchildren.

Pegasus races planned for Gulfstream and Santa Anita in 2024

Horse racing on Opening day of the winter-spring meet at Santa Anita Park.
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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After seven Pegasus World Cup events, it’s evidently time for change.

1/ST Racing, which has hosted the entirety of the Pegasus series to this point at Gulfstream Park, is planning for two Pegasus days in 2024 – one at Gulfstream and the other at Santa Anita. Details aren’t finalized and it’s unclear how it would fit in the racing calendar, but 1/ST is planning for both dirt and turf Pegasus races as part of the Santa Anita program.

Gulfstream played host to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on the dirt Saturday, along with the $1 million Pegasus Turf and the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.

“I’d really love to see that we bring it to the West Coast,” 1/ST President and CEO Belinda Stronach said. “That will probably happen in 2024. What we did this year for 2023 was said, `OK, we have a number of great race days, let’s coordinate those better and call it the 1/ST Racing Tour and recognize great achievements within our own footprint.”

Saturday marked the first stop on that new 1/ST Racing Tour. Along with some of the biggest race days at 1/ST tracks – like Florida Derby day at Gulfstream on April 1, Santa Anita Derby day on April 8 and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 – there are a pair of days where the tour will be running simultaneously.

This coming Saturday, Gulfstream will play host to the Holy Bull while Santa Anita has the Robert B. Lewis – both of them Kentucky Derby prep races.

And on March 4, Gulfstream has the Fountain of Youth, another major Derby prep, while San Anita has the Big Cap. Plans call for coordinated post times at those two tracks on those days to provide the best racing action every 20 minutes, as well as some unique betting options.

“We can never rest on our laurels,” Stronach said. “We have to keep moving forward. We have a great team that’s really committed.”

The main Pegasus race is one of the biggest-paying races in North America. Art Collector claimed about $1.8 million from a $3 million purse with his win on Saturday. In 2022, only the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf featured bigger prizes among U.S. races, and the $3 million Pegasus purse is equal to the one offered last year at the Kentucky Derby.

Regardless of what happens with the Santa Anita plan for future Pegasus events, Stronach insisted Gulfstream will continue having Pegasus days. There has even been talk about Gulfstream playing host to Breeders’ Cup races again, something that hasn’t happened since 1999.

“This is staying here in Miami,” Stronach said. “Pegasus has a home here in Miami. We can’t move Pegasus from Miami. We have great partners here and it’s more than just a day now. We have deep roots here in Miami.”

Arabian Knight earns Baffert record 6th win in Southwest

Betway Challow Hurdle Day - Newbury Racecourse
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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Arabian Knight won the $750,000 Southwest Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths at Oaklawn, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record sixth victory in the race.

The colt came into the Kentucky Derby prep as one of the most highly touted 3-year-olds in the country. Arabian Knight, who was purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, was making his second career start and first on a sloppy track in front of 27,000 fans in Arkansas.

“These good horses are hard to come by,” said Baffert, who was on hand in Hot Springs. “We’ve had a lot of luck here at Oaklawn, so it was nice to have a horse like this.”

However, Arabian Knight was ineligible to earn the Kentucky Derby qualifying points awarded to the winner because Baffert has been suspended for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The penalty, which ends shortly after this year’s Derby on May 6, stems from Medina Spirit’s medication violation after the colt won the 2021 Derby and was later disqualified. Baffert is challenging the ban in court.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Arabian Knight ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:43.50 and paid $2.80 to win. He is 2-0 and has career earnings of $544,275.

“He ran 1:43 and change, that’s racehorse time and he did it without taking a deep breath,” Baffert said. “This was a big effort.”

Red Route One closed from last to finish second, and Frosted Departure was third. Sun Thunder was fourth, followed by Jace’s Road, Corona Bolt, El Tomate and Western Ghent.

At Gulfstream in Florida, Baffert’s entry Defunded finished second in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup, beaten by 4 1/2 lengths by Art Collector on Saturday.