Derby-Winning Trainer John Ward Dies At 75

John T. Ward Jr., Kentucky Derby-winning trainer and former Kentucky racing executive, has died at the age of 75. Ward is best known for saddling 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, who also won the Grade 1 Florida Derby and was third in the G1 Belmont Stakes.

Ward’s training career spanned 40 years until his retirement in 2012, at which time he had saddled 3,671 starters and 574 winners for earnings of over $23 million. Besides Monarchos, he was also the conditioner of graded stakes winners Sky Mesa, Booklet, Beautiful Pleasure, Snow Dance, Forest Secrets, Gal in a Ruckus, and Strong Contender among others.

Ward was a third generation Kentucky horseman. His grandfather John S. Ward saddled runners in three consecutive Derbies, and John T. Ward Sr., trained and ran a farm in the Lexington area. His uncle Sherrill Ward was the trainer of Forego and is in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Ward Jr.’s claim of the roses in 2001 was the brass ring generations before him had reached for, as detailed in this feature from ESPN.

He served as executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, and was also a founding member and former president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. He served on the Sales Integrity Task Force for the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders.

“John Ward Jr. personified the phrase ‘Kentucky hard-boot,’” said Churchill Downs president Mike Anderson. “He was a third-generation horseman who worked tirelessly throughout his career, culminating with service as Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The dedication to his craft as a trainer was amplified 20 years ago when he patiently prepared Monarchos to a memorable victory in the 2001 Kentucky Derby. Our hearts and prayers will be with Ward’s family and friends throughout Derby Week as they grieve during this difficult time.”

“John T. Ward Jr. was a consummate horseman who enjoyed great success as both a trainer and as an industry executive, and engendered enormous respect among his peers throughout his career,” read a statement from the Breeders’ Cup over the weekend. “From his training victories of Monarchos in the Kentucky Derby and Beautiful Pleasure in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, to his leadership as president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International and executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, John served our sport with honor and distinction. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.”

The post Derby-Winning Trainer John Ward Dies At 75 appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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