Morton Fink, an Illinois-based Thoroughbred owner and breeder for nearly five decades best known for getting his lone remaining broodmare to produce two-time Horse of the Year winner Wise Dan, died Nov. 20, according to a notice posted by the Shalom Memorial Funeral Home, which is handling his services.
Fink was two weeks shy of his 90th birthday. No cause of death was listed, but Horse Racing Nation reported that late in life Fink had been undergoing dialysis treatments.
According to a 2013 profile in Trainer magazine, Fink, a lifelong Chicago-area native, first got introduced to the sport by accompanying his mother to the races.
After graduating from Roosevelt University with a degree in business administration, Fink inherited a group of movie theaters from his father and eventually sold them to a national chain. Around 1971, he and a group of friends claimed a horse for $4,000. That runner never won a race, but the experience hooked Fink on the sport for life.
A few years later, Fink and a business partner, Roy Gottlieb, teamed up to form Carelaine Farm, named after a combination of their wives’ names. According to the Trainer profile, Carelaine Farms bred and raced the MGISW mare Annoconnor (named to honor a deceased employee) and bred Producer, a Group 1 winner in Europe who sold in foal to Northern Dancer for $5.25 million in 1983.
By the mid-1990s Carelaine Farms disbanded. Fink continued to own and breed horses on his own–primarily, he said, so he could watch them run close to home at Arlington Park.
But within a decade, Fink began to downsize his own operations.
In 1995, Fink bought a Wolf Power (SAF) mare for $29,000 at the 1995 Keeneland September sale. He named her Lisa Danielle, after his granddaughter. She won only one race, breaking her maiden at Arlington, and Fink later admitted he kept her as his last remaining broodmare after her racing career was over primarily for sentimental reasons.
Fink bred Lisa Danielle to a series of modest stallions, and a 2007 mating to Wiseman’s Ferry produced the MGISW Wise Dan, who won 23 of 31 races over a 4 1/2-year racing career while emerging as America’s dominant turf miler of the 2010s decade. Wise Dan won the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile in both 2012 and 2013, and in each of those years he swept an Eclipse Awards trifecta by being named Champion Older Horse, Champion Grass Horse, and Horse of the Year.
“When you get to be my age, you need something to get up in the morning and look forward to,” Fink said in his 2012 Eclipse Awards acceptance speech. “This horse has made me so happy that I can’t even express it in words.”
A year later, after his 2013 Eclipse Awards wins, Fink told the Chicago Tribune “I was in it strictly for fun when I started out. The first horse I got into was with a group of 10 guys. We got lucky on some of our breeding and bought better horses. But I never had any idea I’d ever have a horse like this.”
Charlie LoPresti, who trained Wise Dan and other horses for Fink, remembered him as a horse-first, hands-off type of owner.
“Basically, he never put any pressure on me,” LoPresti told Horse Racing Nation. “He let me manage [Wise Dan], train him how I saw fit, and run him where I wanted to run. There was never any concrete schedule, or a gun held to my head…. Those kind of owners, there are very few anymore. He was a dream to work for.”
Services for Fink will be held Monday, Nov. 25, at 2:30 p.m. at Shalom Memorial Funeral Home in Arlington Heights, Illinois. A remembrance guestbook, plus details on internment and shiva, are available here.
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Two new cases of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) have been diagnosed at Remington Park.
The confirmed EHV-1 cases on Nov. 21 follow an EHV-1 diagnosis on Nov. 14 that led to the euthanization of a 3-year-old Thoroughbred filly at Remington, triggering a quarantine to one barn that had 66 exposed horses.
According to an Oklahoma Department of Agriculture notice posted on the Equine Disease Communication Center website, “A second horse in the quarantined barn has been tested positive by PCR for EHV-1; this horse is clinically normal and has not had a fever. A third horse in a different barn has also been tested positive by PCR; this horse is clinically normal and has not had a fever. The new barn has been quarantined. Approximately 100 horses have been exposed.”
Also on Thursday, the New Mexico Racing Commission (NMRC) ordered Zia Park and the Downs at Albuquerque to close their barn areas to horses originating from Remington. This means at least nine Oklahoma shippers will be scratched from the seven-stakes “Land of Enchantment” card scheduled at Zia next Wednesday.
“The sole reasoning behind the decision is to protect our New Mexico horse population and horsemen from suffering the way they did during the EHV-1 outbreak of 2016,” NMRC Executive Director Ismael Trejo said in a press release, referring to an outbreak nearly four years ago in which 73 horses tested positive for the virus and brought live racing to a halt at Sunland Park for over a month.
The highly contagious EHV-1 can spread during any time of the year, but the onset of winter typically brings a spike in cases nationwide.
According to Daily Racing Form, at least two other tracks are prohibiting ship-ins from Remington: Delta Downs and Oaklawn Park.
The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma posted on its Twitter feed Friday that Remington will be host a “town hall” meeting on Monday at 11:00 a.m. in the track kitchen to answer questions about shipping and quarantine protocols.
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After prepping for a late-season campaign with a close runner-up finish in the Damascus Stakes Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, Roadster finds the equivalent of open highway Nov. 23 in the $100,000 Native Diver Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. View the full article
Santa Anita Park, which will open for its 83rd Winter/Spring Meeting Thursday, Dec. 26, has announced a complete stakes schedule through closing day, June 21. The schedule, which includes a total of 93 added money races, will be keynoted by a pair of Grade I stakes on opening day–the $300,000 Malibu, for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs and the $300,000 La Brea, for 3-year-old fillies at the same distance. The Malibu and La Brea will again be complemented by the GII San Antonio S. and GII Mathis Brothers Mile.
The GI American Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies at a mile and one quarter on turf, will serve as Santa Anita’s final Grade I offering this year Saturday, Dec. 28. The GI Santa Anita Derby will be run Saturday, Apr. 4. First run in February, 1935, the GI Santa Anita H. will be contested for the 83rd time Saturday, Mar. 7.
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