01/01/2011 4:00PM

Edward Evans, owner-breeder of Quality Road, dies at 68

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Edward P. Evans, one of the nation’s most successful owners and breeders, died on Friday night in New York City following a brief illness. He was 68.

Evans had a long and distinguished career in the sport, but had one of his best years in 2010, when he finished seventh among the nation’s owners with purse earnings of $3,617,508. His best runners in 2010 included Quality Road, the winner of the Metropolitan Handicap, Donn Handicap, and Woodward Stakes, and A Little Warm, who won the Jim Dandy Stakes. It is not inconceivable that Evans could be a finalist for Eclipse Awards as owner and breeder when they are announced on Thursday.

Evans also bred Saint Liam, the 2005 Horse of the Year who raced for William Warren.

It was known privately that Evans was in poor health in recent months. He did not attend the Breeders’ Cup, in which Quality Road competed in the BC Classic, and ESPN’s production team was informed that if Quality Road won, Evans’s younger brother, Robert – better known as “Shel” – would accept the trophy.

But the extent and nature of Evans’ illness was held close to the vest.

“He was dealing with an illness for the last couple of months, but in typical fashion he kept it to himself,” Chris Baker, who manages Evans’s farm in Virginia, said Saturday.

“It’s a great loss not only professionally but personally,” said Baker, who worked for Evans for the past decade. “I don’t know that I’ll get the opportunity to work for another one like him.”

Baker said that funeral services were pending, but that Evans had made prior arrangements to be buried at his farm. In addition to his Virginia Farm, Evans had a home in Manhattan.

Evans was never married and had no children. He has two brothers, Thomas Mellon Evans Jr., who is older, and Shel. Evans is the son of Thomas Mellon Evans, whose Buckland Farm produced such outstanding runners as Pleasant Colony, the winner of the 1981 Kentucky Derby.