11/02/2010 12:12PM

Barbara Walter, California breeding mainstay, dies

Benoit & Associates
Barbara Walter enjoys a moment with her homebred Cavonnier, who ran second in the 1996 Kentucky Derby.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Barbara Walter, who along with her late husband, Robert, bred and owned 1996 Kentucky Derby runner-up Cavonnier, died on Sunday, her family said.

Walter was 78. She was hospitalized in Santa Rosa, Calif., at the time of her death.

The Walters were best known for campaigning Cavonnier, the California-bred who won the 1996 Santa Anita Derby and was beaten a nose by a late-closing Grindstone in the Kentucky Derby. Cavonnier earned more than $1.2 million in his career.

Born in the Philippines, Barbara Walter was an avid supporter of Northern California charities, including scholarships to local Catholic schools and the San Francisco symphony, according to her grandson, David Vicini.

Robert and Barbara Walter developed Vine Hill Ranch in Sebastapol, Calif., in 1983. Aside from Cavonnier, the Walters also bred Lazy Slusan and Tout Charmant. Lazy Slusan was bred by the Walters but was claimed away from them and later became a multiple Grade 1 stakes winner.

Tout Charmant won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in 1999 for the Walters before later being sold to Stonerside Stable.

The family's influence on racing is still being felt. Last Saturday at Hollywood Park, the California Cup Juvenile Fillies was named in honor of Robert Walter.

Vicini said planning the matings of the couple's Thoroughbreds was one of Barbara Walter's favorite aspects of racing.

"Pedigrees were her biggest thing," he said on Tuesday. "She'd stay up all night long doing that. She loved matching the histories."

Vicini said burial will be private and that a public memorial service is being planned.