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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.

Saratoga, without Justify, ready to go for 150th meet

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Triple Crown winner Justify won’t be running during the 150th meet at Saratoga Race Course, but many of the best thoroughbreds will be at the historic track for the 40-day season.

The meet features 69 stakes races worth $18.8 million in purses and opens Friday. Among those running this season will be Good Magic, Hofburg, Gronkowski, Vino Rosso, and Bravazo.

Todd Pletcher is eyeing his 13th training title in 16 years. He won last year with 40 winners, one more than Chad Brown.

Justify has returned to Del Mar in California after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago. Trainer Bob Baffert says Justify probably will walk around the stable area the next two weeks.

The colt likely will return in the fall, the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

Triple Crown winner Justify under observation at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Triple Crown winner Justify has re-located to Del Mar where trainer Bob Baffert is keeping him under observation after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago.

Baffert says Justify will probably just walk around the stable area for the next two weeks at the track north of San Diego. The probable scenario for the colt is a return to racing sometime in the fall with the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

“Right now, we’re just looking to get him 100 percent,” Baffert said Monday. “We’re in a holding pattern. I’d love to run him again because he’s so much fun and exciting to watch. We should know more in a couple of weeks.”

Justify has won all six starts in his brief career that began this year. He has won four straight Grade 1 races, including a sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown champion.

The colt hasn’t had a workout since the Belmont Stakes on June 9.