04/23/2011 4:21PM

Woodbine: Bill Marko, trained champions, dies

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Former trainer Bill Marko, whose charges included champions Deputy Minister and Frost King, collapsed and died in the backstretch kitchen at Woodbine Racetrack early Saturday afternoon. He was 73.

The cause of death is believed to have been a heart attack.

Marko trained more than 500 winners and 48 stakes winners in a career that ran from 1976 through 1999. He was the Sovereign Award winner as Canada's outstanding trainer in 1982 and 1983.

Deputy Minister, undefeated in his first six starts here as a 2-year-old, including five stakes races, was the Eclipse and Sovereign Award-winning male juvenile of 1981. He was sold privately and sent to trainer John Tammaro in the fall of that season and spent the rest of his career racing in the United States.

In 1988, Deputy Minister was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Frost King had been voted in two years earlier.

Frost King, an enormously popular gelding, was Canada's champion 3-year-old male in 1981 despite a heartbreaking half-length defeat as the third-place finisher in the Queen's Plate.

In his final start that year, Frost King was a strong second in the inaugural running of the Japan Cup.

As a 4-year-old, Frost King was Canada's champion turf horse and champion older male.

Fraud Squad, as champion sprinter, and Prince Avatar, 2-year-old male, both were Sovereign Award winners for Marko in 1983.

Other notable horses trained by Marko included Sir Khaled, who finished second in the 1983 Queen's Plate, and multiple stakes winner Fighting Champ.