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.