Lawyer Ron - Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Lawyer Ron loved to run.

No greater praise can be bestowed upon a Thoroughbred. He was an impossible horse not to like, from his kind disposition to his consistency and unbridled enthusiasm in the mornings and afternoons.

Although his lifetime record of 26 starts, 12 wins, four seconds, and four thirds is impressive as it is, let us remember that 11 of those starts came on the turf or Polytrack, neither of which he was particularly fond of, or at a mile and quarter, clearly not his best distance. But in his other starts - from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles - he compiled a record of 15 starts, 12 wins, two seconds, and a third. He earned a 106 Beyer speed figure in January of his 3-year-old year and ran a 119 and 117 at Saratoga as a 4-year-old, while setting a new track record of 1:46 3/5 in the Whitney. When stretched out to 1 1/4 miles in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, he dueled with eventual Horse of the Year Curlin the length of the stretch, only to fall a neck short.

By the time I first laid eyes on Lawyer Ron at Churchill Downs prior to the Kentucky Derby, he was already an established star, riding a six-race winning streak, five of them stakes, including the Arkansas Derby, Rebel, Southwest, and Risen Star. His average margin of victory in those six races was almost 5 3/4 lengths. Because of his eagerness to run, he wasn't always the easiest ride for jockey John McKee.

In December of Lawyer Ron's 2-year-old campaign, I received an e-mail from Bill Bianco Jr., who raced a number of top horses with his father under the name Fog City Stable, including the 2005 Santa Anita Derby winner Buzzard's Bay. Bianco said he had been following a little-known colt named Lawyer Ron and all but assured me this was a special horse. Following Lawyer Ron's 10 3/4-length victory in an allowance/optional claimer at Louisiana Downs, Bianco had trainer Bob Baffert watch the race and then made an offer on the horse, but owner James T. Hines refused to sell. Hines would refuse $1-million and $2-million offers (the latter following the Risen Star). And this was after Lawyer Ron survived the claim box at Turfway Park in Sept. 2005, when anyone could have had him for $50,000.

Before being sent to trainer Bob Holthus, Lawyer Ron received his early training from Tim Glyshaw, who also said he felt the horse was going to be special. But in the beginning, he was just a face in the crowd. When Lawyer Ron developed a shin problem after turning in a series of bullet works over the hard turf course at Ellis Park, Glyshaw tried everything he could to slow him down. Several times, the colt came close to bucking his shins, but always fought through it. Training over the Polytrack helped, but he still was too aggressive. During his gallops, whenever he saw a horse working inside him he'd go after him.

Fast forward to April, 2006, two weeks before the 2006 Kentucky Derby. If there was one thing you could set your watch by it was that Lawyer Ron would be standing outside his barn at 7:45, getting saddled for his morning gallop. Standing a few feet away, waiting to get a leg up, was exercise rider Betsy Couch. Holthus, like Glyshaw, was trying to rein in Lawyer Ron and get him to relax, which is why he would send him to the track right before the renovation break when there were few horses on the track. Ron would stand on the track for 10-15 minutes watching the last of the activity before he would begin his gallop. Sometimes, however, he wanted to get right into it and had no desire to stand around.

You could see he was loving every second of his gallops, the way he would arch his neck and cock his head to the inside with his mouth open, looking at any activity on the apron. Despite having 14 starts in nine months, he carried his flesh extremely well, and seemed to be thriving on racing and training.

One morning, as he galloped by, Bob Baffert commented, "He's a pretty healthy-looking horse."

As Couch said, "He's smart, he's kind, and he's a racehorse.

One time, there was a loose horse on the track, and Couch had to get him to the outside. After the loose horse went by him, Couch turned him to the inside and dropped the reins, and Lawyer Ron went right about his business. Couch said to trainer Frank Brothers, "That's why I love this horse so much. He's just so kind."

No one was closer to Lawyer Ron than his groom, Chuck Chambers, who called him "The Big Dawg," and often referred to him as "The Dream Horse."

But the course Lawyer Ron would take in life was altered dramatically when Jim Hines was found drowned in his indoor swimming pool at his home on Feb. 20, just five days before the Southwest Stakes. That set off a series of legal matters and court battles. Hines' close friend, advisor, and attorney, Ron Bamberger, for whom the horse was named, became the executor of Hines' estate, and took control of Lawyer Ron's racing career after several of Hines' children told him they wanted to continue the racing operation. As the Derby grew near, the offers continued, but the Hines' children wanted to see their father's dream of running in the Kentucky Derby fulfilled.

Two days before the Derby, Bamberger announced that he had sold a large  interest in Lawyer Ron to an affiliate company of Audrey Haisfield's Stonewall Farm Stallion, with the stipulation that Hines' estate had the legal right to control the horse's racing career, while running him in Hines' colors. That relationship eventually resulted in a long, drawn-out lawsuit when Bamberger said Lawyer Ron would continue to race as a 4-year-old. Stonewall, of course, wanted to breed him in 2007, but Bamberger, following a court ruling three days after the Breeders' Cup, was allowed to continue racing him, unless Lawyer Ron failed to finish first or second in two consecutive races. By then, the horse was no longer in Holthus' barn, having been turned over to Todd Pletcher.

Lawyer Ron had run poorly in the Kentucky Derby, well behind Barbaro, but came out of the race with a chip in his right hind ankle, which was removed three days after the Derby at Rood & Riddle equine clinic in Lexington. Lawyer Ron missed 40 days of training, and returned nearly four months later, winning the St. Louis Derby at Fairmount Park before finishing second in the Super Derby. It was after that race that Bamberger decided to change trainers, wanting to see Lawyer Ron compete in the top New York stakes.

Holthus was at the doctor's when he was told of the decision and called his stable foreman and told him they'd be coming to take Lawyer Ron. About three minutes later, the foreman called Holthus informing him the horse was gone. Holthus did retain a breeding right. He had two wishes for Lawyer Ron, only one of which he was granted. "I just hope he runs good and lives a long time."

The following day, Pletcher called Holthus and told him he was sorry the way things turned out. Holthus had known Pletcher since he was 8-years-old, and if someone was going to get Lawyer Ron he was glad it was him instead of someone he didn't know. "At least I know he's got a good home," Holthus said.

Bamberger, who had a deep emotional connection with Lawyer Ron, not because of his name as much as seeing him run in Hines' silks and keeping his memory alive. It was difficult for him to talk about the horse and Hines without getting choked up.

Fast forward once again, this time to July 28, 2007 at Saratoga. Lawyer Ron had won the Oaklawn Handicap, but subsequently could only manage a third in the Met Mile and a second in the Salvator Mile. Now, it was the morning of the Whitney.

At 8:30, blacksmith Ray Amato was putting the final nails in Lawyer Ron's new shoes. The colt stood calmly, barely moving a muscle, as Amato's assistant, Joe Estrada, stroked his head and planted an occasional kiss on his muzzle. But Amato felt something that escaped the naked eye.

"Joe, can you bring his head around, he's layin' on me pretty good," Amato said to Estrada, as he felt the strength of Lawyer Ron pushing against him. "Come on, Ron, stand up here now. After a few minutes, Amato was unable to continue. "Joe, I'm gonna have to let him go; he's really layin' on me."

That seemingly insignificant scene took on a good deal more meaning later that afternoon when Lawyer Ron laid over his 10 opponents, who also felt the colt's strength as he powered his way to a 4 3/4-length victory in track-record time.

One of the reasons Lawyer Ron was more cooperative that year than the year before, learning how to rate kindly, was the addition of draw reins for his morning gallops. In the Whitney, a more professional Lawyer Ron sat behind the pace after breaking from the 10-post, and when John Velazquez asked him, he exploded and busted the race wide open. A month later, he romped by 8 1/4 lengths in the Woodward Stakes. Stretching out to 1 1/4 miles, which was not his best distance, he doggedly turned back the challenge of Curlin. It was only after Robby Albarado brought Curlin in closer and let him eyeball Lawyer Ron that the Preakness winner was able to thrust his neck in front right at the wire. Curlin would go on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic to nail down his first of two Horse of the Year titles. Lawyer Ron, like many other top-class horses in the field, floundered over the sloppy track at Monmouth Park and never threatened.

Afterward, he was retired to Stonewall Farm. On July 10, 2009, he was euthanized due to complications from colic surgery at the age of 6.

Although his life ended way too soon, it is hoped that Lawyer Ron will not be forgotten. In today's often complex racing world, he was something simple and pure: a horse who loved to run.


Leave a Comment:


I saw him break his maiden at Keeneland on the old dirt!  I'd been betting him over and ove at TP and Ellis and after seeing him up close I thought this is a real racehorse, why is he not winning? Then he did, and he sept doing it as long as they kept him on a real race surface. I loved him, and his battle with Curlin was and Awesome race. He validated Curlin in my mind because he was an older horse whom could really run.

20 Jul 2009 2:40 PM
olivia newman

what a great article, i absolutely agree. i loved him. he was a great talented courageous horse! he was a great stud too. he was what we needed, tough and durable, without being inbred to native dancer a fwe times. im sure his foals will be great. and well never forget lawyer ron<3

20 Jul 2009 2:41 PM

I never got to see him in person, but to just see videos and pictures of him working you could tell he just really loved what he did he loved to run. He gave it all each time and was the gamest of the game. His life ended way too soon, but he will alway be a champion in my heart.

20 Jul 2009 2:44 PM

Thank you for a fitting tribute.  He was my Derby horse that year, as I had been following his career.  I persisted even after meeting an exercise rider enroute from Lexington to Churchill Downs.  He was enthralled with Barbaro.

So sad to think that neither of these brilliant and noble runners are still with us .  

20 Jul 2009 2:46 PM

GeezLouise, Steve, sometimes I hate how good you are with words, I thought I was done sobbing over this horse's death...

Remember a couple of weeks ago we were looking for horses with enough of "the look" to play Secretariat in his upcomong movie...this horse could have carried it off.

20 Jul 2009 2:47 PM

Rest In Peace sweet Lawyer Ron.  You are dearly loved and missed.  I am sad.  I have always loved you.  Blessings to all the connections.  ♥

20 Jul 2009 2:47 PM

Thank you for the lovely tribute to Lawyer Ron.  I was so happy to see him run as a 4-year-old in the Whitney and so sad to hear of his death.  Normally I don't follow the progeny of my favorite runners (as I am a racing fan, not a breeding fan) but I'll be looking forward to the Baby Rons.  May they be as gutsy and durable as their dad was.

20 Jul 2009 2:49 PM

I believe Lawyer Ron retired completely sound,  unheard of in the thoroughbred industry.  That's what makes this a bigger loss than most people can probably comprehend, simply because too many of these potential stallions retire injured and/or unsound.  ie: Unbridled's Song, et al.... A race horse than ran sound and retired sound is an absolute rarity in the racing industry here in America.  We need to start breeding them like the Euro's do before all we have left in this country are Quarter Horses that can run three-quarters of a mile every 12 weeks or so.

20 Jul 2009 2:59 PM

Two big chestnut horses. Curlin and Lawyer Ron...

Not having access to racing TV at the time nor being aware of BH, I didn't know what happened to Lawyer Ron after the Derby, but I knew he was GOOD. I did, however, follow Curlin's major 2007-08 stakes wins. :)

What's the tight feeling in my chest, I'm not trying to keep myself from crying, am I? You make pictures when you write, Mr. Haskin.

20 Jul 2009 3:21 PM

Steve once again a beautiful article. Thank you so much for writing this.

I enjoyed watching Ron run. He was my Kentucky Derby favorite. Barbaro was co-favorite.

I have good faith in Ron's foals. May they have as much heart as him.

Does anyone know how many crops of foals he will have? I hope at least two perhaps?

20 Jul 2009 3:25 PM
Karen in Texas

I was saddened and stunned when his death was announced, but did not cry. The first two sentences of your blog, though, immediately brought me to tears, Steve. He ran with joy and purpose. Lawyer Ron was, in every sense of the word, a racehorse. Thank you for capturing his being with your words.

20 Jul 2009 3:31 PM

I just saw him about 2 months ago. He was in his stall, and seemed quite subdued. "Big Dawg" indeed, and quite handsome.

20 Jul 2009 3:39 PM

I had not read that Lawyer Ron was put down. Too sad.

Lawyer Ron was the Eclipse champion older horse of 2007. What made LRon so unusual for a champion older horse is that he ran so often as a 2 and 3 year old.

While I would say Lawyer Ron was a good horse, which is obvious given that he was an Eclipse champion, I could not label him "great" and I am almost positive he will never make it into the Hall of Fame. However, on his day, at 9 furlongs (particularly at Saratoga), he could have run with any horse this decade.

I was able to see Lawyer Ron run in person three times. As others have said, he was a striking athelete. The 3 races in which I saw LRon run were the 3 biggest(most important) races of his life, the 2006 Kentucky Derby, 2006 Breeders Cup Classic, and 2007 Breeders Cup Classic. Unfortunately, LRon ran misrably in all 3 races, which is why I believe history will rate him a very good, but not great horse. Still, given how many horses are born each year, to be called "very good" and a champion is a significant achievement. Condolensces to his connections.

20 Jul 2009 3:44 PM

Karen in Texas...

Yeah me too.  First shocked and then the tears.  I couldn't believe it.  Not Lawyer Ron.  OMG!  

Steve.  This is a beautiful article that you wrote.  Nice writing.  Love the ending.  We will never forget you LR ♥♥

20 Jul 2009 3:45 PM

Loved the Lawyer, I will never forget him and he will be missed.

20 Jul 2009 3:49 PM
Kim Miner

I was lucky enough to see Ron in the Arkansas Derby.  He was an outstanding individual and impressive to the nth degree.  I was so saddened to hear of his passing, just broke my heart.  It is almost sadder to me yet to learn what a wonderful personality he had.  And yes, I agree, he truly would have been the perfect "Secretariat".  RIP beautiful boy.  Thanks for a beautiful article about a special horse.

20 Jul 2009 4:07 PM



Lawyer Ron was just what you said:  simple and pure.  Simply wonderful and pure talent and joy in running.  I loved him as my beaten Derby pick and bet him every time.  I can't believe he dies so young.

He may not have been a HOY - but he was a geniune thoroughbred - through and through.

20 Jul 2009 4:09 PM
Windy City

Beautiful story about great horse...sooo sad that he's gone. RIP sweet Lawyer Ron, you'll be greatly missed but never forgotten

20 Jul 2009 4:09 PM

I saw Lawyer Ron run a number of times, each time he stepped to the gate at Oaklawn Park I was there, I love the horse and he will always have a special place in my heart, right beside the courageous filly Eight Belles. RIP

20 Jul 2009 4:11 PM
Sally F

Thank you so very much for the beautiful article on a very special horse.  I was hoping someone would step forward and honor Lawyer Ron.

Lawyer Ron was always a favorite of mine.  It's hard to accept that his life had to end so early.  I, for one, will never forget this magnificent horse.  Somewhere over the rainbow I can only hope we meet.  Bless you, beautiful spirit.

20 Jul 2009 4:17 PM

Oh Steve,

This one makes me cry...this one is very special and tugs the heart strings just like... Lost In The Fog did.....Lawyer Ron will never be forgotten.....

20 Jul 2009 4:20 PM

Hey Steve....whats wrong with that Barbaro Blog?????

Now.. that I am thinking about Lost In The Fog, what about doing a story on him.....he was one wonderful horse....Love all of your stories, many thanks to you....a Fan of Barbaro.. now.. and forever....

20 Jul 2009 4:24 PM

Thank you so much for writing this, Steve. I am so glad he is being remembered. Along with Barbaro, Lawyer Ron was one of my Derby picks and I followed him closely. His enthusiasm made him so much fun to watch. It was great that he was one of the featured horses in "The First Saturday in May" so that others will remember him down the road. I was there that day for the Whitney. Like most people that day, after his previous two efforts, I didn't think he was going to do much. But I was glad to get to see him anyway. Then when he ran away from the field, I was jumping up and down and yelling and laughing and crying all at the same time. My friends thought I was nuts, but it made me so happy to see him do so well after so many people had shrugged him off. We are taking a trip to Lexington this fall and I was hoping to be able to see him and feed him a peppermint. Now I never will. But I have the photo of his Whitney win on my wall. That record, and his Eclipse award will help people remember him, as he deserves. He brought me so much pleasure.

20 Jul 2009 4:26 PM

I think it was after his win in the Arkansas Derby that Blood-horse published a photo of the most honest Lawyer ever. That photo simply knocked off my socks. If he looked that good in just a photo, what an awesome presence he must have been in person. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to see him run when he became the only living winner of the St. Louis Derby at the troubled Fairmount Park. I think there was a St. Louis Derby ages ago, but I'm not sure. He even looked great being lead back to the barn after the ceremonies in the winner's circle. I will miss him.

20 Jul 2009 4:37 PM

My condolences to his connections.

I may Polyanna in my thinking, but I've always felt when a horse dies he/she goes to Heaven's beautiful clover pasture. And, at the Gates of Heaven are the others who have gone before them. I can picture the 'ole warrior, John Henry, right there with a peppermint for Lawyer Ron as a way of showing him he is a Champion.

Rest in peace Lawyer Ron...

20 Jul 2009 4:40 PM

Saw him in the St. Louis Derby...what a nice horse and unlike so many of today's top horses, he danced every dance.  Rest in peace.

20 Jul 2009 4:52 PM

This one is really hard.  He just died way too young, when it seemed he should be around for years.  I was hoping to go visit him.  Each spring there seems to be one horse that draws me to him and in 2006 the one that tugged my heartstrings was Lawyer Ron.  There was just something about him and you caught it perfectly, Steve.  You could just see the joy he felt in running.  This one goes in my "Articles by Steve" folder.

20 Jul 2009 4:56 PM
Majella from Ireland

That is one of the nicest articles i have ever read. It covers everything. Laywer Ron was a beautiful horse and its terrible that he died so young.

20 Jul 2009 5:09 PM

Hi Steve,

I had no idea that Lawyer Ron passed away until I read your article just a few minutes ago.  

He was a beautiful game horse and will live on in our memories like Lost In The Fog, Eight Belles, Barbaro, St. Liam and countless others who have given their all courageously and bravely.

20 Jul 2009 5:13 PM
Curlin Rulez

I'm A Huge Curlin fan and that race with Lawyer Ron is my all time favorite Curlin race and Laywer Ron made it happen. And just to touch on "Whatevers" point about soundness; Curlin also ran and retired sound which I believe will make most of his offspring just like him. And as a fan, at least for me, is something I'm proud of in being a fan of his.

20 Jul 2009 5:19 PM
mike williams

It seems that lately we have been losing too many of the good horses. Lost in the Fog, Go between, Happy ticket.Being a son of Langhfur, I had a soft spot for Lawyer Ron.He would have been a very capable replacement for his sire.

20 Jul 2009 5:25 PM
Virgil Fox

Thank You, Steve.

Lawyer Ron was my KYD choice also, and I'm from Philadelphia.

What a gift to have him at 4YO.


20 Jul 2009 5:25 PM

Steve, thanks for a great article.  I have known Lawyer Ron's groom(when Holtus was his trainer) Chuck Chambers for many years and never saw Chuck smile as big as he did when Lawyer Ron won the Arkansas Derby.  I had the great pleasure of seeing Lawyer Ron win all of his races at Oaklawn.  He was a beautiful animal and one of my favorites.

20 Jul 2009 5:26 PM
Lexie C

Everytime you write one of these beautiful tributes I am moved to tears.  How I wish there wasn't the need for them.  I simply loved Lawyer Ron from the start and was so shocked and saddened by his death.  May he rest in peace and never be forgotten ...

20 Jul 2009 5:27 PM

Thanks for writing this! Lovely.. Awesome tribute to an awesome horse. I followed him during his 4-year-old campaign. He was one of my favorites...and truly left us far too soon. <3<3

20 Jul 2009 5:27 PM

What a beautiful boy he was. I was lucky to see him run at Del Mar and got some great photos of him and and kept his program, He will be missed.

20 Jul 2009 5:28 PM

Steve....WOW!  Great piece about a great horse.  You are the best!  I hope you sit down one day and give us a book about all these great horses as no one says it better than you!

20 Jul 2009 5:37 PM
Abbie Knowles

Hi all of you!

Thank goodness you are all as devestated by Lawyer Ron's death as I am.  But he is in Heaven, romping in the Elysian Fields so he is fine.  But how we all miss him.  

Just skim read the article and blogs because I have had one hell of a difficult day and feel lousy so cannot concentrate!  But i do look forward to reading all the lovely things you have written about The Lawyer!!!!!!

God bless you all and all true horse racing fans and animal lovers!


20 Jul 2009 5:49 PM

Steve you always make sure we don't forget our heros, don't you?

Ron's accomplishments were often overshadowed by the drama of Barbaro, Bernardini, Invasor and later Curlin.  But he rightfully deserves his place in history. And unlike some, I do believe he will find his place in the Hall of Fame someday. His Whitney was a monster.

It is a tragedy that he died so young. Do you know how many foals he sired before his death, and how many mares are in foal to him now?

20 Jul 2009 5:59 PM

Thanks for remembering Ron.  I loved that big hunk of horse!

20 Jul 2009 6:18 PM

I saw Ron as a 3 year old at Keeneland, and again at Stonewall earlier this spring. He had grown into a stunning horse--with attitude and the look of a horse who knew he was special. I was very sorry to hear that he is gone. He sure was something else to look at.

20 Jul 2009 6:21 PM

Ron was a lovely boy.  I had the honor of getting to know him personally a few months prior to him having left this world.  He had the greatest personality of most stallions and loved to play.  He will be greatly missed.  Hopefully his 2 crops will have the talent he did and pass on his legacy. RIP big boy, we love you.

20 Jul 2009 6:23 PM

RIP Barbaro and Lawyer Ron.  Both of you will be missed.

20 Jul 2009 6:44 PM

Ron another stirring piece from you, the man with the magic has spoken again.  There are so many stories out there and you of course are the one to tell them.  If ever you decide to write another piece I would like to have one on Pappi Chullo, guess you must realize by now that he was one horse I couldn't forget from

his wins to ending up in the lowest of claiming races when he got to old and then miracle on miracle he was sent south to beco me a stallion and within just a few weeks was dead.  He gave his all for his owners and deserved more than what he got.  A piece from you would be appreciated as there are too many horses out there that give their all and end up nowhere or dead.  Sorry for my rantings.                                                                            

20 Jul 2009 6:52 PM
Ida Lee

See, this is the reason I hate to love these beautiful athletes. I was devastated when Barbaro got hurt and just lost a piece of my heart when he died. Then,all those we've lost since then. And now  Lawyer Ron. What a beautiful, talented, sweet boy. Right now the water works are going and I can hardly see what I'm writing. But, damn it's hard enough when you lose them to accidents on the track but to colic at six? ... what is it with these magnificent giants anyway? They're so frail. Any little thing can kill them. I live in fear of losing my equine loves. Being a horse racing fan is fun and exciting, but what a heartache when you lose your Lawyer Rons.

20 Jul 2009 7:02 PM

There is no thoroughbred writer who has a talent for words like you do.  Thank you for the tribute to a great horse who should have lived a long happy life.

20 Jul 2009 7:33 PM


I don't mean to belittle what Lawyer Ron accomplished, but I see very, very little chance he makes it into the Hall of Fame. It is really hard to get into the Hall, and alot of extremely good horses have been left out so far.  Looking at horses from just the past 30 years, the following are NOT in the Hall:

Ferdinand, Best Pal, Swale, Conquistador Cielo, Temperence Hill, Lure, Theatrical, Pleasant Colony, Spend A Buck, Chief's Crown, Turkoman, Snow Chief, Bet Twice, Gulch, Risen Star, Forty Niner, Criminal Type, Unbridled, Black Tie Affair, Housebuster, Thunder Gulch, Real Quiet, and Charismatic.

The only horses from this decade(not including those currently running) that I am certain will get into the Hall are:

Tiznow(he's already in), Invasor, Curlin, and Azeri. I'm also fairly certain Point Given, Ghostzapper, Lava Man, and Rags to Riches will get in and I give Smarty Jones and Ashado good chances as well.  

20 Jul 2009 7:44 PM

Nothing prettier than a shiny chestnut in Saratoga sunshine. I looked at the photos I took of him that day..........thanks for the memories Steve.  They came way to early!  

20 Jul 2009 7:45 PM

Thank you.  I loved watching this horse in Arkansas.  I was in tears hearing about his passing.  

20 Jul 2009 7:46 PM

RunFast- according to stonewall's site, he bred 116 mares in 2008.  They have a picture of his first foal, born in January:

20 Jul 2009 8:13 PM

There's not a whole lot for me to say except...

I'm sad. He was one of my favorites, and I am going to miss him.

20 Jul 2009 8:29 PM

Thank you Steve for the lovely tribute to one of my recent faves. I was also very sad when I heard about Lawyer Ron dying. Every morning when I check my e-mail I hold my breath for fear of an alert telling me someone has died. LR was my Derby pick too, though I also liked Barbaro (I "found" him as a 2 y/o and put him in my virtual stable because our names are almost the same, apparently that IS a valid handicapping tool, lol). Lawyer Ron just made me happy, he was such a joy to watch. And so handsome. I will remember and miss him.

20 Jul 2009 8:34 PM

Hey Steve, great tribut for a champion in Lawyer Ron, i believe a very underrated horse. Steve, have you ever done a tribute or a piece on Easy Goer? What a Brilliant Hall of Fame Champion Easy Goer was, and he died so so young.

20 Jul 2009 8:42 PM

What a beautiful tribute to Lawyer Ron.  He brought so much to racing, and I've learned a lot more about him through your article.  He was great to watch, great to follow, great in stature and beauty and soundness and I see him as one of our greats.  He is one of those "greats" that kept me coming back.  I do wonder what it is about colic and the complications with the surgery that they do.  It seems like we've lost several that way lately, and I'm wondering what the risk is all about? Thanks for the memories Lawyer Ron.  Rest in Peace.  May your foals carry on your beauty, kindness, and love of racing!!

20 Jul 2009 8:55 PM
Golden Gate

I loved Lawyer Ron. He was my favorite horse to see run up until he retired. I had hoped to breed a mare to him one day. I was at Oaklawn and saw him run and win the Southwest the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby. He was one of the best and is now with Mr. Hines who never would have sold him I believe.

20 Jul 2009 9:05 PM
John T.

It,s always sad when a horse who has the potential to be a good stallion dies so young.I will be looking forward to seeing what foals he does have make out at the track.

20 Jul 2009 9:21 PM

When I read of Ron's death I immediately remembered standing in my sister's livingroom watching The Whitney on tv and cheering him on at the top of my lungs.  What a horse!  Thanks for the memories, Ron.  Rest in peace.

20 Jul 2009 9:32 PM
go bucks

i was in Lawyer Ron's stall with his groom just 10 days prior to  his untimely passing.  All i can  remember is how great he looked and how happy his groom was that he seemed to be doing so well after the surgery. He was really well taken care of by the great people at stonewall stallions. I was also fortunate to watch im run in person and as steve said Lawyer Ron really loved to run! Lawyer Ron, enjoy your run where ever you are....

20 Jul 2009 9:39 PM

Whenever we lose something beautiful and brilliant, the world is a sadder place. Lawyer Ron was a joy and a in peace, lovely boy.

20 Jul 2009 9:43 PM

Thank you for this lovely tribute to Lawyer Ron. I was so afraid he was going 2 pass away and be forgotten, but I know now he will be miss by others not just myself. He was a great horse 2 me, I loved him very much, like he was mine.RIP Ron !!

20 Jul 2009 10:32 PM

Rest in peace LR. You were a real nice hard hitting gutsy competitor. I loved watching you compete, and you always gave an honest effort. So sad, another one of our equine heroes has been lost way too soon...........  

20 Jul 2009 10:47 PM

I had the pleasure seeing Lawyer Ron twice when he raced at Louisiana Downs. I had never heard of him until the Risen Star, and he was a monster that day. Beautiful animal, classy racehorse. The chance to see one like him is what makes me go to the races. have some nice pictures of those days.

20 Jul 2009 11:03 PM

One of my very favorites. Loved his enthusiasm.

21 Jul 2009 12:00 AM

What a great memorial to this lovely horse. Beautifully written, as always. Steve, you are a truly gifted writer. I especially liked the fact that his kind temperament was mentioned. To lose a stallion that was a top race horse as well as sound and kind-natured is a real blow. Thoroughbred breeders need more stallions like Lawyer Ron.

21 Jul 2009 12:42 AM

When Steve writes a tribute to a horse they have done something special or they are special. Lawyer Ron is well deserved. I will not forget him.

21 Jul 2009 12:58 AM

In response to Steve's article about Damascus, there was talk about how horses of today are not as durable or tough as they used to be. Well, Lawyer Ron was a throwback. In just 3 years of racing he made 26 starts, 10 at age 2, and then 8 starts at 3 and 4. Significantly, Lawyer Ron had already made 14 starts prior to the 2006 Kentucky Derby, 11 of them in a period of less than 6 months between July 24th 2005 and January 14th 2006. Yet even having made so many starts so early in his career, he actually peaked at age 4 when he was Eclipse champion. I may not believe that Lawyer Ron was a "great" horse or that he will get into the Hall of Fame, but I certainly respect him.

21 Jul 2009 3:35 AM

Thanks, Steve, for again capturing in words the brilliance and grace of a beloved thoroughbred.  I just wish, as the others do, that it could have been a tribute to his first stakes winner rather than his obituary.  His class and fire showed in his photos and videos. I'm sure he was a true presence of power in the flesh.  We'll miss you, Lawyer Ron.

21 Jul 2009 7:18 AM

Lawyer Ron was one of my favorite horses.  In the Kentucky Derby, he was my pick to win, even over Barbaro & Bluegrass Cat, both of whom I am a tremendous fan.  It absolutely broke my heart when I heard he was euthanized and I still can't believe it.

RIP Laywer Ron!  You will be dearly missed!

21 Jul 2009 8:26 AM

To me Lawyer Ron will always be a lunch pail horse...a hard working, hard knocking, honest as they come type.  All he ever did was give his all and you can't ask for anything more than that.  Does he belong with the great ones.....probably not, but you can't argue against the success he had after being eligible to be claimed early on in his career...the same as Mine That Bird who started his career in a Maiden $62,500 claimer.

Hats off and the utmost respect to both of them.

21 Jul 2009 9:51 AM

He was a special animal displaying the temperament many of us seek in our horses.  His death is truely a loss to fans and the breeding  industry and we can only hope one of his colts will carry on his name.  RIP Lawyer Ron, you will be missed!!!

21 Jul 2009 10:03 AM

I saw him duel with Curlin in the gold cup at Belmont and knew when they crossed the wire together i had just seen two champions.

21 Jul 2009 10:15 AM

A handsome horse with a ton of heart. One of my favorites for sure. From the looks of his foals, I believe he will make his mark as a sire. Why is is the good ones go too soon and the junk lives on to produce more junk?

21 Jul 2009 10:17 AM

Once again, you have shown why you are such a National Treasure, Mr Haskins.

Yes, a magnificent chestnut - I use my moniker of berttheclock in memorium to a wonderful friend of mine, an usher from the So Cal circuit who used to "tout" the fictional berttheclock to patrons in his box seat sections.  If I had not used that, I would have used "SuckerforChestnuts" - Have rarely missed betting on one, but, few as nearly so great as Lawyer Ron, although Interco did run a step or two.

21 Jul 2009 10:23 AM

Nicole, thanks for the site...that foal by the Queen's Causeway is beautiful.....thanks....

21 Jul 2009 10:31 AM

I was on the rail fence and watched him destroy the field at the Whitney. My horse that day was my beloved Sun King but was so fun to watch this horse pull away from the field....

21 Jul 2009 10:41 AM

Lawyer Ron will truly be missed and one can only hope his offspring will be "stamped" with his heart and desire.

21 Jul 2009 10:48 AM

When I heard the news, my heart immediately went out to his original team that was featured in "First Saturday in May".  They sure loved that horse, and for good reason.  I was really looking forward to see his offspring, carrying on those solid genes.  

21 Jul 2009 11:26 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

     Once again, Thank You for giving Lawyer Ron his due respect, He certainly earned and deserved it! I will never forget being at the 2006 Kentucky Derby, Seeing Barbaro and Lawyer Ron up close was incredible and a day I will never forget for as long as I live.  I still can't believe Lawyer Ron is no longer with us.  I believe colic and laminitis are the true evils of these great athletes, Being taken at six years old is not fair.  Lawyer Ron had the heart and courage of a Champion, and like you stated, He sure loved to run...

    I can just picture Lawyer Ron and Barbaro reliving that First Saturday in May three years ago up in Heaven...

May he rest in peace...

21 Jul 2009 11:45 AM
Yvonne Kirby

My heart broke when I heard that Lawyer Ron had to be euthanized due to colic complications.  I had just visited with him when I attended the Kentucky Derby.  He was the most beautiful horse I have ever seen - I had seen many of his races and adored him.  Please look into what is causing colic in so many horses of late and why so many are dying of complications.  He will always be in my heart and prayers.

Yvonne Kirby

21 Jul 2009 11:45 AM

Interestingly, Lawyer Ron will be remembered by the cognoscenti as a high-profile horse that successfully bridged the Pletcher transition. In other words, when Pletcher suddenly morphed from super-trainer to mere mortal after the '07 Saratoga meet, LR was in his barn.

LR does deserve credit for having run a couple of very good races that fall, though sadly, his accomplishments (while trained by Pletcher) can never be taken at face value given the circumstances.

21 Jul 2009 11:51 AM
Jeanne from Texas

I don't think I've ever read so many outstanding accolades for such a divine horse.   And of course the tears did fall.  I watched Lawyer Ron win the Arkansas Derby and was a dedicated fan from that point on...and followed him in all his races.  Steve Haskins, thank you again for writing such an wonderful article.  Just wish you had had a picture of our great horse to go with it.  I always admire and respect your talents as a writer and I always loved Lawyer Ron.  Know you are running with the Great Ones!

21 Jul 2009 12:09 PM
belles forever

what a beautiful could you not love lawyer ron? he did indeed always run with great enthusiasm!! gone way too soon..thank you for the eloquent words..he will be watching for his kids to hit the tracks.he was also very good at that!

21 Jul 2009 12:22 PM

Laywer Ron was one of the best and it is truley sad that he died so young. I got to see him run twice and although I never got to see him in the winners circle, he always showed up and gave his best.

I will always have him to watch because of "The First Saturday In May".

RIP big boy.

RIP big boy

21 Jul 2009 12:50 PM


That was beautifully written.  Yet another horse gone too soon.  It is heartbreaking and for each of them that passes, it makes me grieve.  He was so young and so beautiful.  We lost Easy Goer at 6 and I cried rivers for him.  It is just such a shame that Lawyer Ron couldn't be saved.  God bless his tremendous heart.

21 Jul 2009 1:15 PM
Steve Haskin

I'm glad to see Lawyer Ron had so many admirers. That's wonderful. To be honest, I didn't know he had such a strong fan base and affected so many people. Thanks for all your comments.

21 Jul 2009 1:20 PM

Nicole,  thanks for the link to the picture of a Lawyer Ron foal.  He is just precious and it did my heart good to see that little piece of the beautiful Lawyer Ron left here on earth.

21 Jul 2009 1:31 PM
steve from st. louis

Steve, after your story, many here probably BECAME Lawyer Ron admirers. Whatever you do, please DON'T write a piece on Alydar. I don't think I could stand to read it. Also, while your "look backs" on runners are well-received, I'd like to see what you could do on some of the older trainers still getting up early, like Jack Van Berg or D. Wayne.

21 Jul 2009 1:38 PM

He was such a beautifule horse with tremendous heart! His Whitney was definitely one of the best races of 2007! I really like his owners story at derby time, how the horse was named after his friend. It was moving how he took care of things for the family to ensure their father's dream came true.

21 Jul 2009 1:58 PM
Abbie Knowles

Great writing again Steve, my friend, and wonderful that you have such caring bloggers!

The ones that annoy me are some on another friend's (Jason Shandler's) blogsite!  Have no idea how he puts up with them!  He takes them with a very large pinch of salt I guess or just laughs at their silly comments!  The other blog sites attract very different people.  Thank God!!!!!!!!!

God bless all true racing fans and horse lovers!  All horses and animals matter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


21 Jul 2009 1:59 PM
"Lawyer Ron" Bamberger

I want to thank all of you for the expressions of sympathy, and for the kind remembrances of Lawyer Ron. A special thanks to Steve for the article, it captures the spirit and will of Lawyer Ron as well as words can.

It is comforting to know that our sadness in his passing is shared by so many fans, and that Lawyer Ron will be remembered as "...a horse who loved to run." Thanks again!

21 Jul 2009 2:11 PM
2 time player of the year

Northern Dancer family ceratinly has produced some really good horese and the Lawyer could motor and what is surprising his father was primarily a sprint champ.

21 Jul 2009 2:17 PM
John C.

I was lucky enough to see Lawyer Ron decimate the field in the Woodward at Saratoga; he was poetry in motion and, yes, you could see that he "loved to run". In fact, there's no doubt that, if Lawyer Ron could have decided his own path, he would have chosen to race as a 5YO- now that would have been something to see: a 5YO big dawg against a 4YO Curlin!

21 Jul 2009 2:33 PM
Lynne Veitch

I'm so glad to see how many people loved Lawyer Ron.  For a few days after his death, I thought I must be the only one - until now-  Thanks to you Steve, for writing such a fine piece & letting us all show our appreciation for the very special Lawyer Ron.  Lynne Veitch

21 Jul 2009 4:27 PM

Thanks again Steve - so when is the book gonna be written? You have such a gift for writing & you owe it to these great horses to tell their stories you way. i too saw LR at the Ky. Derby & it was worth the wait in the hot sun by the rail for hrs. just to see him & Barbaro. Saw him in NJ for the ' 07 BC - definetly different weather from Churchill Downs but worth the wait. RIP  LR

21 Jul 2009 4:58 PM

Yvonne Kirby, I live in Texas and have a Thoroughbred/Hanoverian cross mare and the vets have been pushing electrolytes this year because of the extreme heat.  I don't know if it's been that hot in Kentucky, I imagine it has, and that can lead to colic.  Here's an article to explain it better than I can:

I know south & central Texas are in such bad shape that they are almost wishing a hurricane would come through Texas just to refill the lakes.  It will take that much rain to provide relief.

21 Jul 2009 5:24 PM


Thank you.... for such a wonderful blog about wonderful horses....I have a question but, it does not belong here...what is a bone bruise, it sidelined Musket Man for the racing season, ( article,aspx?ID=14475)

no horse racing knowledge with me....just love of horses....

Yes, I loved the Lawyer Ron.....

21 Jul 2009 5:33 PM

Thank you for the wonderful and well written tribute to Lawyer Ron. I too remember the first time I saw him run as a two year old. He immediately caught my eye and became a favorite. So happy he is captured in "The First Saturday in May" along with Barbaro and Brother Derek, my other favorites that year.  Let's hope Brother Derek has a long and illustrious career at stud to carry on the legacy of that wonderful Derby year.

RIP Lawyer Ron

21 Jul 2009 7:28 PM
Lori M

Thanks, Steve for another wonderfully written article.  I  also loved Lawyer Ron as a racehorse and was excited about his prospects as a stallion. He was a real looker, too. His stallion video posted here on Bloodhorse was a real showcase for him. I was really saddened to hear about his death.

I have to say that I am also feeling some sorrow for Stonewall, they just lost Medaglia to Darley, and then Lawyer Ron passes away.  Too very big holes to fill in their stallion barn!

21 Jul 2009 8:28 PM
Abbie Knowles

Don't forget BERNARDINI!!!!!!!!!!!!

He was from that year too and did nothing wrong.  There was no dishonour in coming second to a mature horse like INVASOR!

God Bless

Best wishes


21 Jul 2009 9:56 PM

Lawyer Ron reminds me of another beautiful chestnut who also had an early demise, his name...Easy Goer.

21 Jul 2009 10:12 PM

Thank you Mr. Haskin for this beautiful article. My condolences to all of Lawyer Ron's connections. I was very fortunate to meet him at Stonewall in Oct.'08. He was doing a Moneigh painting to benefit ReRun. After, I was invited to step in his stall & pet him. A big, gorgeous horse & so sweet and gentle. I will treasure that memory even more now. Along with memories of watching him race on TV. RIP Lawyer Ron. Gone much too soon.

21 Jul 2009 10:57 PM

Lawyer Ron was my Derby horse that year, too. What a joy he was to watch. I'm so sorry we lost him so soon. I was looking forward to following his stallion career, and I will be watching for his offspring. If they have anything of their daddy in them, I'll love watching them run.

22 Jul 2009 8:32 AM

Abbie, thanks for bringing Bernardine up.. for I was thinking about him all day yesterday....

as, for as, the bone bruise I still cant find anything equine that explains in injury....and its starting to make me angry....

22 Jul 2009 11:11 AM
Steve Haskin

I can't imagine a bone bruise on a horse being any different than a bone bruise on a person. You hit your bone on something and gets bruised.

22 Jul 2009 11:14 AM

Steve,  I think you are quite a remarkable person and your blog is far best because you put yourself into it...

22 Jul 2009 11:16 AM
Greg J.

    With a Heavy Heart, I am posting my favorite Pictures of "Lawyer Ron" and a few Video Links, R.I.P. Lawyer Ron...

Two Great Pictures of Lawyer Ron:

Tribute Video for Lawyer Ron:

Lawyer Ron at Stonewall Stallions:

Lawyer Ron winning the 2006 St. Louis Derby:

Lawyer Ron winning the 2007 Whitney Handicap(Amazing!):

22 Jul 2009 11:24 AM

Steve, I never thought to look in a medical dictionary for humans for bone bruise I have searched everything equine and came up empty...again.. let me tell you...your the greatest...thank you....

22 Jul 2009 11:29 AM

Steve, thank you..I have searched and learned much about a fetlock bone bruise from New Bolton George Widener Center and North Carolina Research Center...and The Horse.Com all have had valuable information and I am learning...knowledge is GREAT and frustrating when answers are not found..I even bothered my dogs Vet. re answers and eventual outcome of injuries to horses..I just wanted to know,I do know cause and effects of bone bruises and outcome to some horses...some of it is pretty scary.....

22 Jul 2009 12:54 PM
Tim G

Lawyer Ron was a sentimental favorite of mine. Oaklawn connection and performance was great. That it all fell apart somewhat with Bob etc was truly sad to me, but I still loved the Lawyer.

Right Steve a bone bruise is suffered when impact doesn't fracture the bone but bruises it.

It's technically bleeding that occurs under the tough fibrous covering of the bone called the periosteum. Definitively detected by MRI. Pretty commonplace injury, Musket Man etc?

Depending on the severity of the bruise it can take weeks for the mild bruises, up to months to heal for the most severe.

(talking about humans here but relative to equines as well).

22 Jul 2009 1:11 PM
Tim G

Ragsy, look up Capped Knee, that gives you a bit of an explanation specific to a part of the equine anatomy. But a bone bruise is a bone bruise, physiologically.

22 Jul 2009 1:14 PM

A very well-written piece that brings recognition to an exceptional racehorse.  Bravo Steve - continued excellence from one of the best turf writers in the industry.

22 Jul 2009 1:42 PM

Mr. Bamberger, Lawyer Ron, Curlin, and Rags to Riches were probably the three horses of 2007-2008 that saved racing from going down the drain.

Now we need Mine That Bird and Rachel to help. We're in serious trouble.

But isn't it weird how salvation came so many times in the form of a big, bright chestnut or a muddy little bay? (Secretariat, Curlin, Ron...Seabiscuit, MtB...)

22 Jul 2009 2:04 PM

Tim G, many thanks to you for additional information...I just love to learn as much as possible re. injuries and the physiology behind it...and potential outcomes..again thank you..

learning and loving it....the site for capped knee did provide some good material for thought....


22 Jul 2009 2:35 PM
Tim G

No problem Rose, Steve gave you good info, he can charge my usual consult fee....LOL.

Happy to see youngsters or oldsters who want to learn.

22 Jul 2009 3:42 PM


    I think a bone bruise is the same for a horse as a bruise is to a human. I did it to my elbow one time when i fell off my pony. She came up to the jump, actually started to jump, then spinned like some kind of reining horse. Of course i come flying off and i landed with my hip on top of my elbow. Basiclly i fell of sideways, and my boney elbow got the full force of my boney hips when i landed on top of it. We actually thought i broke it, but i only had to stay in a sling for a couple of weeks. That was at a show too. Seems all my worst falls have come at shows, bad show luck.

22 Jul 2009 5:08 PM
Tim G

Yep, LDP, pretty much what I see a lot of. Recovery time depends on a myriad of things.

Age, complications, severity, immediate treatment can all affect recovery and any lingering issues.

Like Steve told Rose and I did as well. The only thing I'd be concerned about is ligament involvement, the reason for MRI. Almost IMPOSSIBLE to dx without.

22 Jul 2009 5:42 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks for the article on Lawyer Ron. I really appreciated his talent on the track and was saddened to learn of his passing at such young age.

22 Jul 2009 5:43 PM

Tim G,

    They didn't do an MRI on me they did x-rays. The stupid doctor kept twisting my arm into different positions, and they HURT. I wanted to just yell just take the stupid picture and be done with it! I was 11 when that happened. I have had an MRI done, but that was to my shoulder. Thats how they found out i have chronic bursitis, fun. I'll tell you what i think us true horse ppl must have something wrong with our brains, cause it doesn't matter what happens or how many times we get injured, we keep coming back, despite all cautions not to. I've pulled a muscle twice now in my shoulder, badly sprained my wrist, gotten kicked in the head ( thats probably why i'm crazy, lol), kicked in the leg, and tossed more times than i care to remember, yet i still get back on. I guess that's how you know if you really love something. No matter what happens you keep coming back for more, because the good always outweighs the bad.

22 Jul 2009 8:12 PM
Claiming Crown

Hey Steve!  We'd love to have you up to Shakopee, MN to see this year's Claiming Crown.  It's a good time.  

23 Jul 2009 6:54 AM

Again, insight on a great horse. Thank you, Steve.

Lawyer Ron, R.I.P., you left us too soon.

23 Jul 2009 10:01 AM
Steve Haskin

CC, thanks for the invite, but that's the day after tomorrow. Perhaps one of these years when I have time to make arrangements. I hear it's a fun day.

23 Jul 2009 10:43 AM
Karen D

There was so much more to Lawyer Ron than his past performances.  I saw him race, but what stuck me more was the pure joy of him in the mornings.  His coiled energy and focus took your breath away. I also got to see him in Todd Pletcher's barn.  There was such intelligence and kindness in those eyes. Thank you for this article which captured his essence.  To you and Lawyer Ron: well done!

23 Jul 2009 10:46 AM

LDP, thank you for your story of being thrown off of a horse at a show..and your painful injuries but,Dr's are not like to know the physiology of injuries and being a 11 year old at the time must have been tramatic...

23 Jul 2009 12:35 PM
Susan Watkins

Steve.....again you have written a wonderful tribute.  I was one of the lucky ones who got to see Lawyer Ron quite a bit here at Oaklawn and he was one absolutely gorgeous horse.  I have got a wonderful photo of him coming out of the gate in the Ar Derby hanging in our office.  Thank you so much for giving him the tribute he deserves.

23 Jul 2009 3:15 PM

Another wonderful article, Steve and great comments, as usual.  That 2007 Whitney was really the race that made me a fan of Lawyer Ron so even though I was not a long time follower of his races, it still made me so sad to read of his untimely passing.  If science could come up with better ways to prevent colic and laminitis in horses it would save so very many lives.  Such beautiful, wonderful yet extremely fragile creatures.

Greg J. - your tribute video was very nice - thank you for sharing.

23 Jul 2009 7:20 PM

I just got to know Lawyer Ron through your wonderful writing and memories of fans on this blog.  Thank you all.

24 Jul 2009 12:08 AM


    I don't think they'll ever get better technology to prevent colic. There are just so many different things that can cause it, a big one being dehydration. A person told me colic is the leading cause of deaths in the winter because a horse can't always get enough water because it freezes. Also with thoroughbreds you have to be careful, they seem to have bad stomachs, and when you change feeds you have to do it slowly. Majec my sisters horse colic twice, each time only a couple weeks after he arrived at a new place. Mold also plays a big factor, that or freshly mowed grass. Let a horse get into those and that won't be good. The last cause off the top of my head is letting a hot horse that has been working out drink too much too fast. I think that is called crap colic. This just seems to be one of those sicknesses you just can't get rid of even though you do your best to prevent it.

24 Jul 2009 12:49 AM

Wow.... I have been gone for  a couple weeks and come back to such sad news. Lawyer Ron was a favorite of mine on the track. He was so tough and I felt didn't really get the respect he deserved. Thanks for the loving tribute.  Every one of these athletes deserve nothing less and to get one from you know they were special! RIP our beloved Lawyer Ron. My Heart is broken.

Its been a tough couple weeks for this horse lover. Unfortunately close to where I live, there was a very talented barrel horse stolen from the rodeo grounds and literally abused and tortured. An unspeakable act of evil that I can't even wrap my mind around. "Dually" will live Thank God, but will never perform again. Shakes ones faith in humanity.

24 Jul 2009 11:17 AM

Oh My God, Karen2.  I am so appalled about the horse you wrote about, Dually.  I'll never understand how a person could ever do such a thing.  I'll keep him in my prayers to recover mentally as well as physically.  Funny, I have never lost my faith in horses.

24 Jul 2009 3:37 PM
Mike Relva


I just read your post,I'm so sorry can't tell you how sad it makes me feel for any horse or any other animal to be mistreated.

24 Jul 2009 8:40 PM

Steve, what about doing a story on that georgous George Washington talk about a forgotten horse... and his only foal.. the filly that looks just like him..what a beautiful little filly...I was heartbroken when George Washington broke his leg when running on that sloppy track....such a great turf horse..what a loss....

25 Jul 2009 12:43 PM

Lawyer Ron was one of my favorite horses. He was also one of my top three picks in the '06 Kentucky Derby and again in the '07 BC Classic. Those races didn't work out for him, but nothing diminished my love for this horse. I was utterly shocked when I heard of his death, and frankly still can't believe he's gone.

Lawyer Ron was a genuine star, a real pro, who went out and loved to run, loved to compete, and was so eager, although with maturity, he learned to harness some of his energy. I wasn't aware of Ron's trainer prior to Bob Holthus. Bob is a man who started training horses when I was a toddler, and who helped make Lawyer Ron the superb runner he became. Todd Pletcher came on later, took the colt to the next level, and Ron became a fine champion.

I'll always remember Lawyer Ron for all the thrills he gave me, and because he was a wonderful horse, as they all are.

Thanks for the blog and your tribute to Lawyer Ron.

25 Jul 2009 2:42 PM

In my spare time, I've been somewhat obsessed with researching the great gelding Exterminator, the 1918 KD winner.

His sire was McGee (1900), the ONLY foal by White Knight, who hailed from a direct line of the Darley Arabian..  White Knight was *gelded* following that single siring.  (I can't find an explanation for that, but it's ancient history).

McGee was imported from GB and became a rather successful sire in the US:  Besides Exterminator, he sired Donerail, the 1913 KD winner; In Memoriam, apparently considered by some to be co-HOTY with Zev in 1923 (before HOTY was officially judged); and the filly Viva America, who not only won the 1918 Kentucky Oaks but ALSO ran 3rd behind her half-brother, Exterminator, in the 1918 Kentucky Derby.  (I can't find the actual dates for the KO/KD in 1918.  If they were run on first Friday/Saturday, as now, her dual run was an absolutely amazing feat.) The KO was her only win and she seems to have thrown only middling runners as a dam.

I think the White Knight/McGee line is extinct, for Donerail and/or In Memoriam apparently were not successful sires. I can't find them in any of the pedigrees I've searched.

Bringing this back to the topic of Lawyer Ron...

Heartbreaking though the untimely loss of him may be, he at least had a full season as a sire.  Watch for his progeny and hope for a McGee in there.  As White Knight might tell you, it only takes One.

May Lawyer Ron's legacy be remembered long, and prosper.

Thank you for another beautiful eulogy, Steve.  

25 Jul 2009 10:32 PM

Since my post of last night has shown up, I need to make a correction: In Memoriam was considered co-3yo Colt of 1923, not HOTY.

26 Jul 2009 11:10 AM

sherpa...You made me curious about Viva America and the dates. I found that the Derby was on May 11. I couldn't find the exact date of the Oaks but in a book about Exterminator it said that she won the Oaks "a few days after" finishing third in the Derby. Very impressive.

26 Jul 2009 12:48 PM

Another excellent article Steve!  I thought Lawyer Ron was terrific! His Whitney was awesome and that duel with Curlin was really exciting.  He will be missed!  Still can't believe colic surgeries are so unsuccessful in this day and age.  Hope someone finds a better way soon - it is surely overdue!

26 Jul 2009 3:01 PM

barb - thank you for finding that piece of the puzzle!  It didn't seem possible that Viva America ran those 2 races in 2 days; but then, horses were run so differently in those days.

And..<smacks head>..I knew there's a book about Exterminator but didn't even think to check it out.

26 Jul 2009 6:54 PM

The beloved Lawyer Ron was my Derby horse that year too.  As much as I felt in my bones that Barbaro would win, I still hoped for Lawyer Ron just as much:)

My favorite races were his Whitney, of course, so dashing and record setting, and before that, the not-often-remembered inaugural St. Louis Derby under the lights...there was big magic about that little race:)

 Then came the day when I laid eyes on him in person at the 07 BC.  He sparkled!  He shone! He exuded class.   Later on, I had the good fortune to meet him, getting bathed at Stonewall, and my jaw dropped in sheer awe of him.   His red coat was bronzed copper all wet, and he seemed bigger than life. The stallion manager said to me, so seriously, his voice respect-laden, he said-  "It doesn't get any better than that."  

That Saturday when we learned he was gone, it rained outside, disguising all the husband brought home flowers to try and console, knowing how much I loved Lawyer Ron, and always will.   Thanks so much, Steve, for all that you've now added to my memories of that wonderful, fascinating racehorse.

29 Jul 2009 5:32 PM

The beloved Lawyer Ron was my Derby horse that year too.  As much as I felt in my bones that Barbaro would win, I still hoped for Lawyer Ron just as much:)

My favorite races were his Whitney, of course, so dashing and record setting, and before that, the not-often-remembered inaugural St. Louis Derby under the lights...there was big magic about that little race:)

 Then came the day when I laid eyes on him in person at the 07 BC.  He sparkled!  He shone! He exuded class.   Later on, I had the good fortune to meet him, getting bathed at Stonewall, and my jaw dropped in sheer awe of him.   His red coat was bronzed copper all wet, and he seemed bigger than life. The stallion manager said to me, so seriously, his voice respect-laden, he said-  "It doesn't get any better than that."  

That Saturday when we learned he was gone, it rained outside, disguising all the husband brought home flowers to try and console, knowing how much I loved Lawyer Ron, and always will.   Thanks so much, Steve, for all that you've now added to my memories of that wonderful, fascinating racehorse.

30 Jul 2009 9:56 AM
Kevin, Canada

Lawyer Ron was something else to watch when he was on.His Derby race, he got hurt, and who can hold his Breeders Cup against him on that track. He was a GREAT ONE (in my opinion). RIP Lawyer Ron thanks for the trills.

15 Aug 2009 9:25 AM

Oh I know I will never forget Lawyer Ron. My late father Ron Berkhouse and I both liked him when he was running. And to keep both Lawyer Ron's and my father's memories alive. I made a Lawyer Ron page on Facebook here is the link.

12 Nov 2011 9:44 PM

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