07/15/2010 11:00PM

Bill Allen, owner of Wild Again, dies

Email

Bill Allen, who won the inaugural Breeders' Cup Classic with Wild Again, died Friday at his home in Las Vegas, said Bryan Brown, his son-in-law and the chief executive officer of Retama Park. Allen, whose health had deteriorated in the last few years due to complications from heart and ankle surgeries, was 84.

Allen purchased Wild Again for $35,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select yearling auction in the summer of 1981. The horse, which he raced in partnership, was later supplemented to the Classic for $360,000.

"There are very few people in this world who would have done with Wild Again what Bill did," said Brown. "His appetite for risk and belief in the horse led him there, to the first Breeders' Cup Championships."

Wild Again, trained by Vincent Timphony. won the 1984 Classic, which had a purse of $3 million, under Pat Day after a three-way stretch battle. He won by a head over Gate Dancer, who was disqualified for interference and placed third following a stewards'inquiry. The move elevated Slew O'Gold, the favorite, to second. Wild Again paid $64.60. He would go on to become a successful sire, and died in 2008.

Allen was born in Clarendon, Texas. He put together the group that acquired Retama's bankruptcy debt in a move that has enabled the track to continue to operate. Allen remained active in horse ownership until his health problems restricted him.

"He was a great person to be around, a fun person, and at the same time, a great businessman," Brown said. "More than anything, he loved people. He made many friends."

Brown said Allen wanted to have a party and not a funeral to mark his passing, so the family will plan one for friends. Details are still being pulled together, but it will be in the next few weeks in the Rancho Santa Fe area, said Brown.

Allen is survived by his wife, Nina, and four children: Michelle Brown, Candace Eakin, Margie Allen and Eric Martin.