12/29/2012 5:48PM

Lord Avie, 1980 champion and prominent sire, dies at age 34

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Barbara D. Livingston
Lord Avie in 2011 at Blue Ridge Farm in Upperville, Va.

Lord Avie, who was voted the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male in 1980 and later became a productive sire, died on Friday at Blue Ridge Farm in Upperville, Va. He was 34.

By Lord Gaylord and out of the Gallant Man mare Avie, Lord Avie was purchased by trainer Daniel Perlsweig at the 1980 Hialeah open sales of 2-year-olds in training for a group of clients named SKS Stable. Perlsweig, a successful conditioner in the Midlantic region, paid $37,000 for the colt and stabled him at Monmouth Park, where he broke his maiden in his second start in June 1980.

:: A lifelong bond with a forgotten champion

Lord Avie then won his next start, the Juvenile Stakes at Belmont, and that fall scored consecutive wins in the Grade 2 Cowdin Stakes and the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont before winning the Grade 1 Young America Stakes at the Meadowlands to close out his championship season. In addition to receiving an Eclipse Award, Lord Avie was ranked the 2-year-old highweight on the Experimental Free Handicap and was the winter-book favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

As a 3-year-old, Lord Avie won the Hutcheson Stakes and the Florida Derby but missed the Kentucky Derby due to an injury to his left hind suspensory ligament. He returned in the summer and won once more at Monmouth before finishing second in the Haskell Invitational and third in the Travers Stakes. He was retired after the suspensory injury flared up again, finishing his career with eight wins from 16 starts and $705,977 in earnings.

“He made my whole life, my whole family’s life,” Perlsweig said on Saturday. “He was an easy horse to train . . . on the racetrack, he was a great horse and introduced me to a lot of people. Today, he’d have made $10 million, with the way purses are now.”

:: Barbara D. Livingston's blog on Lord Avie

Lord Avie began his stud career at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington but spent most of his years - from 1989 until he was pensioned in 2002 - at Will Farish’s Lane’s End in Versailles. Lord Avie enjoyed a successful stud career without ever siring a horse as accomplished as himself. From 21 crops of racing age, his progeny earned over $44 million and won 84 stakes races. His top runners included French highweight Ode, Grade 1 winners Magical Maiden and Fly for Avie, Puerto Rican champion Dr Abraham, and Peruvian champion Pilgricia. In recent years, Lord Avie was represented by long-distance specialist and Canadian champion Cloudy’s Knight, who won over $2.5 million and nine stakes races before retiring in 2010.

Perlsweig visited Lord Avie regularly during his stud career and afterward, when he moved to Blue Ridge Farm. Perlsweig’s fond relationship with his former charge was the subject of a Daily Racing Form feature by Barbara Livingston published in May. That piece, “A lifelong bond with a forgotten champion,” received an honorable mention in the feature/commentary category for Eclipse Writing on Friday.

“He was one of the nicest horses I’ve ever been around, and he loved people,” Perlsweig told Livingston. “Once in a while, he’d have some play in him and you’d have to be tied on. But most of the time he galloped like a pony.”

Lord Avie’s death leaves 33-year-old Flatterer, who was voted champion steeplechaser four times from 1983-86, as the oldest living Eclipse Award winner.

JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
We just lost a special, wonderful Eclipse Award-winning champion in Lord Avie. This loss touches my heart. What a wonderful career and life Lord Avie had. And what an expressive face and soulful eyes he had as well. Barbara Livingston's photography caught them movingly in her photography that accompanied her article on Lord Avie. It's an image I never, ever forgot. I read Barbara Livingston's tribute to Lord Avie in May, and I was deeply impressed not only with Barbara's article, which was stellar, I was also deeply impressed by the bond of love both Danny Perlsweig and Patricia Ramey had for Lord Avie, and vice versa. I extend my deepest condolences to both of them today, as well as Lord Avie's connections at Blue Ridge Farm. I know their grief must be deep because Lord Avie was much beloved by them all. Rest in peace, Lord Avie. Well done, my friend. Thank you for the wonderful memories. You will most definitely be missed.
avlamal More than 1 year ago
i remember lord avie winning the young america at meadowlands when it was a500 k race ran like pleasant colony-big middle move very nice horse
Perl More than 1 year ago
Wow what a life he had. He seemed to be a strong stamina influence. I remember hitting the 13 furlong Gallant Fox at aqueduct back in '98 I think with his son Aavelord. I think he paid like $12 to win and he won by like 5 lengths. Kinda sad I can remember that but I can't keep my uncles, aunts and cousins straight.
Jay Romig More than 1 year ago
RIP old warrior
Diane Obusek More than 1 year ago
Thank you very much to Mr. Perlsweig for his obvious love and devotion for Lord Avie, and to Barbara for sharing their remarkable story with us. All Thoroughbreds deserve a safe and secure retirement after life on the track or the breeding farm. In honor of Lord Avie, let's all do our best to make that dream a reality. Lord Avie, a true Thoroughbred champion.
Susi Fechter More than 1 year ago
The beauty of this memorial is that this wonderful horse was never forgotten. That he was loved and respected throughout his life and that is how it should be for all horses...thoroughbreds and otherwise. As I read his story, I felt a tug at my heart strings as I also have a memory of a beautiful Quarter horse filly who was born to my first horse in 1978. She died in 2006, missed every day. This gallant lad had more years and that is a gift. Sleep in heavenly peace old man. You went out of this life as loved and respected as you came into it and that is a blessing.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
What a lovely post, Susi, and well said. Thank you for posting it.
mrm More than 1 year ago
I lost my one and only broodmare on the same day. I owned her since she was a yearling. Retired her from racing at 5 after a successful career. She was a big hearted horse. She went on to become a stakes producing mare for me. I am truly blessed for all of the memories and thrills that she gave me. RIP girl you will be missed.
Jay Romig More than 1 year ago
RIP old warrior, I was going to try come see you after I read the first article,I take care of all the ones I've owned and raced. I keep very busy with that, and didn't find the chance to come, now it won't happen. I'll never forget my first horse I raced , Our Mischief, we retired him completely sound at age 7. He contracted West Nile Fever and died only 2 months after coming home. It just broke my heart, didn't race any horses for 6 years until we started again. I hope the 2 of them are in green pastures together. Lord Avie had a good long life, thank God.
John More than 1 year ago
Once of the nicest storys the DRF did this week on the ongoing love of this trainer and his horse ! Brought a tear to the eye even of the hardest of us gamblers ! Great story ! God Bless this wonderful horse, he's galloping around the meadows of heaven about now !
Leslie Bliman-Kuretzky More than 1 year ago
RIP Beautiful one :(
Gunner More than 1 year ago
I never got to know Lord Avie other than through first realizing that he was a very good race horse that passed great traits on to other generations. So the great blog on him and his family by BDL was truly appreciated for what it rekindled. Lord Avie seemed very patient and kind as he grew older. Never envious or boastful, neither proud nor rude. He appeared to be on a level plane and not easily angered. How wonderful was the reciprocal relationship that he shared with those closest to him? We should all be so lucky. What a delight to view him even from so far away.