11/23/2015 3:29PM

Owner-breeder Barbara Smollin dies

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Barbara Smollin, shown here in 1998, died this month at age 73.

MIAMI – Racing lost a dedicated owner and an even better friend this month with the sudden death of Barbara Smollin, 73.

Smollin was best known for having owned and bred three-time Grade 1 winner Sir Bear along with her husband, Dr. Al Smollin. Sir Bear began his career under a $50,000 claiming tag at Gulfstream Park during the winter of 1996 and raced for eight seasons before retiring in 2003. His biggest victories included the 1998 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, the 1999 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, and the 2001 Gulfstream Park Handicap, all Grade 1 wins.

Smollin was never one to shy away from a challenge with her beloved Sir Bear, racing him at 15 different tracks over an outstanding career that ended with 19 victories from 71 starts and earnings of more than $2.5 million.

Sir Bear, 22, still resides in his custom-built barn in the backyard of the Smollins’ home in Davie, Fla.

“Barbara was a great representative of our industry,” said trainer Phil Combest. “She had one of the most positive personalities of anybody I’ve ever been around. What was so great about Barbara was that she treated every single one of her horses, not just Sir Bear, like they were one of her own children.”