11/09/2009 1:00AM

Cook, owner and breeder, dies


Leland Cook, a prominent Texas owner and breeder whose top horses included Dixieland Heat and Gold Nugget, died Friday night in Corsicana, Texas, following a lengthy illness. He was 75.

Cook was an entrepreneur whose vast business interests included a video game licensing and marketing company and a vending machine company. He and his wife, Sue, purchased Richland Ranch in Corsicana in the late 1980s. Not long afterward the couple turned their attention to racing and in 1993 won the Louisiana Derby with Dixieland Heat. From there, the horse would go on to run third in the Blue Grass and 12th in the Kentucky Derby. Gold Nugget came later on, and was the Texas Thoroughbred Association's horse of the year in 2000. In between, there were a slew of stakes winners campaigned by the Cooks.

"He was good for the industry, loved the sport," said Gerald Romero, a longtime trainer for Cook. "He really was more like a father than he was an owner. I have a great deal of respect for him and his wife and his family. He's going to be missed."

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Central on Wednesday at Northside Baptist Church in Corsicana. Cook is survived by Sue, his wife of 56 years, as well as five sons, Byron, Rob, Ken, Lance, and Brad.