Oaklawn trainer Whiting dies at 77

Posted: April 20, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

Lynn Whiting

Lynn Whiting

Longtime Oaklawn Park trainer Lynn Whiting, who trained Lil E. Tee to victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby, was found dead at his home in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday. He was 77.

Trainer Lynn Whiting (left), talking with Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel in January 2010 during the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Sprin...

Daily Racing Form reported that a family friend said Whiting was unconscious and unresponsive when a fellow Churchill Downs trainer arrived before daybreak to take Whiting to the track for work.

Whiting had one win among 10 starts by horses under his direction at Oaklawn during the 2017 season. He was limited by a stroke he suffered in late February.

During a 50-year career begun in 1968, Whiting's starters won 1,279 of 6,113 races, or 20.9 percent, and earned $23,960,058.

"Everybody looked up to him as a horseman and a man both," said trainer Don Von Hemel, an Oaklawn regular whose career began in 1956. "He was a gentleman, and he knew how to train a horse. He was kind to everybody he met."

Cal Partee owned Lil E. Tee, and Whiting's career soared with Partee as his top client through the 1980s and 1990s. It reached its peak in 1984 when his trainees won 55 of 138 starts, or 39.9 percent, for earnings of $1,357,574. His peak earnings came in 1992, augmented by Lil E. Tee's Kentucky Derby success, with $1,423,476.

"He didn't send too many out there that didn't have a chance to win," Von Hemel said.

Jockey Jon Court, 56, who has ridden for 38 years, said he always felt confident when he rode for Whiting.

"He was a professional, and he was one of the finest horsemen I was fortunate enough to ride for, whether it be in the morning or the afternoon," he said. "I was able to visit the winner's circle with him a few times in my career. I didn't ride for him a lot, but I rode for him enough and was around him enough over the years to get to know him. Like I said, we have just lost one of the finest horsemen in the industry."

Whiting's triumphs at Oaklawn included wins by Cyber Secret in the 2013 Razorback and Oaklawn Handicaps. He trained Rebel Stakes winners Phantom on Tour in 1997 and Clever Allemont in 1985. Clever Allemont also won the Southwest Stakes. Dryfly won the 2010 Smarty Jones Stakes and Uncle Brent the Northern Spur Stakes under Whiting's direction.

Lil E. Tee carried Pat Day, a National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame member, to his only Kentucky Derby victory.

"He was fighting the good fight," Day told the Daily Racing Form. "I love him like a brother, and I'm going to miss him terribly. He was a top-shelf horseman and gentleman. The racing industry has lost dear friend."

Whiting is survived by his wife, Nell, and daughters Carrie and Lori.

"I didn't make it to the track today, but I can imagine the somber feeling there on the back side and the front side," said Court, who will ride at Churchill this season.

Sports on 04/20/2017