12/29/2012 5:48PM

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

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.