10/25/2001 12:00AM

Owner Daniel Wildenstein dead at 84


Daniel Wildenstein, the French breeder and owner who won some of the best races on both sides of the Atlantic, died Thursday in Paris following surgery, the Wildenstein Institute said Thursday. No cause of death was given. Wildenstein was 84.

An art dealer who wrote several books on French impressionists, Wildenstein raced All Along, the first foreign-bred horse to win Horse of the Year honors in North America. The 1983 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, All Along came to North America later in the year and won three Grade 1 turf races in Canada and the U.S.

Wildenstein won the Arc three other times, in 1974 with Allez France - who went on to provide the nom de course for one of his breeding operations; in 1984 with Sagace; and in 1997 with Peintre Celebre, perhaps his best runner.

Wildenstein also won two other Breeders' Cup races. In 1989, his homebred Steinlen won the Breeders' Cup Mile and was later named turf champion. And in 1993, his homebred Arcangues shocked an international audience when he won the Breeders' Cup Classic at 134-1 in his first start on dirt.

Wildenstein's racing and breeding operation has been publicly headed for the last several years by his son Alec.

Born in Verrieres-le-Buisson near Paris on Sept. 11, 1917, Daniel Wildenstein was the third generation of a famous family of art dealers. Today, Wildenstein's other son, Guy, runs two galleries in New York with the Wildenstein name. Alec is also an art dealer.

In 2000, the Wildensteins lost a defamation lawsuit in New York, filed in response to a book that suggested the family may have participated in a complex arrangement between the Nazis and art dealers during World War II.