07/15/2011 2:34PM

Terry Lanni, gaming executive and horse owner, dies at 68

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J. Terrence Lanni, a horse owner and member of the Del Mar board of directors who rose to prominence as an executive of two casino companies, died on Thursday, according to published reports.

Lanni was 68 and had been battling cancer for the last two years.

A native of Los Angeles, Lanni was president of Caesars World and later became president and chief executive officer of MGM Grand, the parent company of such Las Vegas casinos as the Mirage, Mandalay Bay, and MGM Grand itself. Lanni was a member of the Del Mar board of directors since 2001.

Lanni retired in 2008. He kept a home in the Los Angeles area, and campaigned a successful string of horses during his time as a gaming executive. He was a frequent visitor to Southern California tracks in recent years despite his illness.

In March, Lanni and partners Bernie Schiappa and Mercedes Stable won the Santa Anita Handicap with Game On Dude, who was second in the Hollywood Gold Cup last Saturday.

Lanni raced, with partners, such notable horses as Silic, the winner of the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Gulfstream Park, and the multiple stakes winner Ladies Din. In 2006, Sinister Minister, whom Lanni co-owned with Schiappa and Mercedes Stable, won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby.

In March, Lanni said that Game On Dude’s Big Cap win gave him and Schiappa their 10th Grade 1 win as partners. They had to survive a 12-minute inquiry before the race was official. Chantal Sutherland rode Game On Dude, becoming the first woman to ride the winner of the Big Cap.

“It’s the first time I’ve kissed a jockey after a race,” Lanni said afterward.

Lanni’s Awesome Patriot was briefly on the Triple Crown trail this year and later won the Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park in May.

Lanni recalled in March buying his first horse at the age of 22, having followed the horses that were owned by his father, Anthony. Until Game On Dude’s Big Cap win, Lanni considered Silic’s Breeders’ Cup win to be a personal racing highlight.

Details of a memorial service are pending.