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W.T. Young 1919 - 2004

Date: 01/13/2004

Prominent owner and breeder W.T. Young, founder of Overbrook Farm, died Monday in Delray Beach, Florida, at age 84. He was attending a Gulfstream Golf Club dinner and collapse of an apparent heart attack. Born on February 15, 1919, he died almost 2 years to the day after his wife of 56 years, Lucy Hilton Maddox Young. He is survived by his son, Bill Young Jr., and daughter, Lucy Boutin Hamilton the widow of French trainer Francois Boutin.

He graduated from the University of Kentucky as a mechanical engineer and started W.T. Young Foods in 1946 where he created Big Top Peanut Butter. The company was sold to Proctor & Gamble in 1955 and gave the product the new name Jif Peanut Butter which is still popular today.

Young entered racing in the late 1970s with some broodmares which lead to the founding of Overbrook Farm in the 1980s. The 2,300 acre farm is now home to more than 100 broodmares and several stallions, including one of America's leading sires, Storm Cat, who commands a stud fee of $500,000.

W.T. Young (2nd from left) and his long-time trainer D. Wayne Lukas (right) accept the trophy for Cat Thief's win in the 1999 Breeders' Cup Classic.
Young owned and raced many top horses including 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, 1996 Belmont Stakes winner Editor's Note, 1994 Preakness and Belmont champ Tabasco Cat (in parternship), Timber Country, winner of the 1994 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and 1995 Preakness (in partnership), Breeders' Cup champions Cat Thief (1999 Classic), Flanders (1994 Juvenile Fillies) and Boston Harbor (1996 Juvenile). He received an Eclipse Award in 1994 for outstanding breeder and in 1999 was named Breeder of the Year by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. He was a director emeritus of Churchill Downs and the Breeders' Cup and a member and former steward of The Jockey Club.

Young was also active in educational and civic concerns, serving as a major benefactor of Transylvania University and was once chairman of the school's board of trustees. He contributed $5 million to the University of Kentucky for the main library, which now bears his name and was instrumental in creating a sizable endowment for the library.

Since 1982, most of his horses were trained by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Upon hearing of Young's death, Lukas said, "This is a major, major loss to racing, but his influence reaches far beyond the racing community." He was recently visiting Florida and spoke to Young about the upcoming season. Lukas remarked, "He told me, 'We've got some good ones, according to the boys. We're in for some big years. I'm looking forward to 2004.'"

Funeral arrangements will be handled by Kerr Brothers Funeral Home of Lexington and no details will be released to the public at the family's request. Plans for a memorial fund will be announced at a later date.

The familiar silks of Overbrook Farm
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Photos ©2004, Cindy Pierson Dulay

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