04/30/2009 11:00PM

Thor's Echo breeder Warner dies at 65

Kevin Short
The late Steve Warner bred Thor's Echo, who won the 2006 BC Sprint.

Steve Warner, whose involvement in racing evolved from that of a fan to the owner of a backstretch feed company business and later to the breeder of a Breeders' Cup winner, died April 25 after a bout with cancer.

A native of Philadelphia, Warner was 65. He was a fixture on the backstretches of Southern California in recent years, making the rounds on behalf of Steve Warner Thoroughbred Maintenance, his feed company.

Warner took enormous pride in his success as a breeder. Warner was a co-breeder of Thor's Echo, winner of the 2006 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs, and Dancing Edie, winner of the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in 2006 and a starter in the 2006 BC Filly and Mare Turf.

"It's unbelievable that this could be happening to us," Warner said at the time.

In an interview with Daily Racing Form last summer, Warner said he never had more than three or four mares at a time.

Thor's Echo, the champion sprinter of 2006, was bred by Warner in partnership with Carlton Block, Harry Forman, and Carl Smith as a result of the mating of Swiss Yodeler and Helen of Troy. Smith, a groom for trainer Mike Harrington, had a season to Swiss Yodeler but did not have a mare. Warner and his partners suggested Helen of Troy.

"It was all through charity and good feelings," Warner said last summer, recalling the mating.

Warner and his partners sold Thor's Echo after the horse's first few races and sold a majority of Dancing Edie after she began to blossom.

Warner also campaigned Smokin Charlotte, winner of the 2002 Fran's Valentine Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Last summer, Warner was excited about the prospects of Serena's Echo, who is now a 3-year-old full sister to Thor's Echo, and of a yearling half-brother to Thor's Echo by Unusual Heat.

In recent months, Warner was unable to spend time at the races because of his illness.

The feed company will continue operating, according to Rick Rudman, who worked alongside Warner and will maintain the business. Rudman had a first-hand account of Warner's success as a breeder, frequently hearing the pride-filled stories.

"He started out selling feed, and his horses just grew and grew with broodmares," Rudman said.

Warner came to racing through the garment industry and was a lifelong follower of the sport. Rudman remembers Warner telling a story of a high school teacher who wrote in his graduation yearbook, "See you at the races."

A day after Warner's death, Gale in the Vale, partially owned by his Fast Lane Farms, won a $12,500 claiming race at Hollywood Park.

Warner is survived by is wife, Andrea, and two children. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made to a racing-related charity.

Barretts sale catalogs 263

Redattore, the sire of Snow Chief Stakes winner Compari, is represented at the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training on May 11. Redattore is the sire of Hip No. 234, a colt out of the Crafty Prospector mare Darling Clementine

Barretts recently released a supplemental catalog of 13 additional 2-year-olds that will be sold May 11, bringing the number cataloged to 263. The one-day sale features juveniles from several nationally prominent consignors.

Training previews are scheduled for Thursday and Friday at Fairplex Park, beginning at 10 a.m. each morning.

Compari won his stakes debut in the Snow Chief Stakes on April 25 and is expected to start in a graded stakes in June at Hollywood Park.