03/22/2009 11:00PM

Derby winner Lil E. Tee dead at 20

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Lil E. Tee, winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1992, has died at age 20.

The At the Threshold horse was euthanized on March 18 after developing complications from abdominal surgery, according to Jim Plemmons, the owner of Old Frankfort Stud in Versailles, Ky., where Lil E. Tee stood his entire career.

Plemmons said the horse underwent abdominal surgery a month earlier for a problem related to an unusual condition he had as a yearling. Recurring colic sent him to a clinic in New Jersey in 1990, and surgeons discovered one end of his small intestine was rising into and blocking the end of his large intestine, interrupting the usual flow of feed and water. Dr. Rick Doran corrected the condition then.

"It stayed good for 18 years," Plemmons said.

When Lil E. Tee showed signs of colic again this year, Plemmons said local surgeons attempted another repair.

"He was good for a month, and then he had some complications," Plemmons said. "He lost some coordination and other side-effects. We just felt he was too great a horse to let him suffer, so we went ahead and euthanized him."

Lil E. Tee has been buried in his entirety at Old Frankfort Stud.

Lil E. Tee finished third in the Southwest Stakes, was second in the Arkansas Derby, and won the Jim Beam Stakes en route to the 1992 Kentucky Derby. But the Derby field that year also included Breeders' Cup Juvenile sensation and 1991 French and American juvenile champion Arazi, who dominated press coverage. Even after another top pick, Grade 1 winner A. P. Indy, scratched the morning of the race, Lil E. Tee's prospects seemed dim to bettors, who sent him off at nearly 17-1. He went on to win by a length over Casual Lies, with Arazi finishing eighth.

Lil E. Tee finished fifth in the Preakness, but came back at 4 to win the Grade 2 Razorback Handicap and finish second in the Oaklawn Handicap before a hairline fracture in his right front ankle prompted owner W. Cal Partee and trainer Lynn Whiting to retire him.

Lil E. Tee won 7 of 13 starts and earned $1,437,506.

Lil E. Tee was bred in Pennsylvania by Larry Littman from the For the Moment mare Eileen's Moment. As a sire, Lil E. Tee got Grade 2 winner Mula Gula and his stakes winners or graded performers included Petunia, Easy Tee, Jim'smrtee, and Salutee.

He covered three mares in 2009, Plemmons said.