05/24/2007 11:00PM

Ky. owner-breeder Durr dies at 88

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - When Richwood Manor owner Robert C. Durr died of cancer on May 21 in Cincinnati, he left behind a long history in Kentucky racing and breeding. Durr, who was 88, was a self-made millionaire through his road construction, land development, and banking businesses. However, he is best remembered by many in northern and central Kentucky as a longtime breeder, owner, and partner in such horses as Your Tent or Mine, the Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed runner he bred with George Budig.

Durr initially owned Richwood Farm in northern Kentucky before selling it in the 1990s to Budig, his business partner. He then relocated to Richwood Manor in Boone County, also in the northern part of the Bluegrass State. He maintained property in central Kentucky through his interest in Fayette Farm in Lexington, which he owned with longtime family friends Doug and Kerry Cauthen.

Durr bred or raced such stakes performers as Bluffing Girl, Prince Wild, Richwood Boy, Timeless Statue, Dim Lights, Speedy Crossing, Pie Ro, Savedbythelight, and Atmospheric. He also had some success breeding for the public marketplace. Your Tent or Mine, who sold for $310,000 at the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale, was one of several six-figure horses Durr bred alone or in partnership.

Durr also served on the Kentucky Racing Commission for 12 years, from 1980-92.

Durr grew up in Atwood, Ky., where his father farmed. Durr himself worked a variety of jobs, from steel mills to trucking, before taking out a loan in 1945 to start his own road maintenance company. His projects evolved into road construction and land development, mainly in Kentucky and West Virginia, activities for which he was inducted into Kentucky's Transportation Hall of Fame in 2003. One of his first road-work jobs was to pave a three-quarter-mile driveway belonging to the Cauthens' grandfather, a job that started an enduring friendship with three generations of the prominent racing family.

"He had a definite understanding of animals," said Doug Cauthen, now president of WinStar Farm in Lexington. "He had a lot of empathy and love of people, which showed in his great philanthropy, but also for animals. He had a number of retired horses on his farm, and he had about six or eight dogs that he had collected whenever one needed a home."

Durr maintained a handful of mares at Richwood Manor but boarded most of his stock at Richwood Farm with Budig. In recent years, his mare band dropped from about 10 mares to six, Cauthen said.

"From a small band of mares, he did very well," Cauthen said.

Funeral services were to take place 11 a.m. Saturday at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Independence, Ky. A visitation was scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at the church.

Etc. . . .

The Japan Racing Horse Association has cataloged 157 yearlings and 329 foals to its annual select sale. The auction will run from July 9 to 11 at the Northern Horse Park on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Last year's edition of the auction established a world record foal price when a daughter of King Kamehameha and To the Victory brought a $5.2 million bid from an unidentified group of buyers operating under the name Global Equine Management Co.

* The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington will open a major exhibition featuring the 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed on June 7. The exhibition will include all of the late champion's trophies and an array of memorabilia, all on loan from Affirmed's owners Louis and Patrice Wolfson. It also will feature interactive audio with interviews from Affirmed's connections, video of Affirmed's Triple Crown campaign, his halter and blanket, and custom jewelry Patrice Wolfson had made in honor of Affirmed. Affirmed, who died in 2001, was the most recent Triple Crown winner.