Country Legend And Racing Owner/Breeder Toby Keith Dead At 62

Toby Keith | Coady

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Country singer/songwriter Toby Keith passed away Monday following a battle with stomach cancer, his family announced Tuesday. While best known for his music career, which included 20 No. 1 hits, he also owned and bred Thoroughbreds and was known for his passion of the sport.

Keith raced and bred primarily under the name of Dream Walkin Farms, which started its first horse in 2001. Dream Walkin was a song on an album by the same name that Keith released in 1997. According to Equibase, Dream Walkin won 848 races and earned over $18 million. Keith's top runners included the homebreds Cactus Ridge (Hennessy), the winner of the 2003 GIII Arlington-Washington Futurity, and Smack Smack (Closing Argument), the winner of the 2016 GIII Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. whose career earnings were $986,419. Both were bred at Keith's farm in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.

Keith also raced Quarter Horses and was part owner of 2003 Champion of Champions winner The Down Side along with R.D. Hubbard and Johnny T.L. Jones.

“He was a really close friend,” said Danny Caldwell, who owned horses in partnership with Keith that ran under the name of Country Bro Stables. “This has been a long night, a very long night. Toby was a great. He was a true American patriot. He was a great man who helped a lot of people. He loved the Thoroughbred racing industry. He raised a lot of his own horses, he bred a lot them. He put a lot of money into the game and he enjoyed it to the full extent.”

In a 2004 interview with the San Angelo Standard-Times Keith spoke of his passion for the sport.

“I could retire and race horses and be happy,” he said. “I wish more people were exposed to horse racing. It's the greatest. It gives everyone a chance to own a sports franchise and they don't have to pay $1 billion for it.”

At last year's yearling sales, bloodstock agent Chris Baccari bought 24 yearlings, including a New York-bred colt by Violence for $380,000, on behalf of Keith.

“It is a very sad day,” Baccari said. “He was a really genuine, great guy, who didn't have any agendas. He really supported the Thoroughbred racing business. He was a big fan and an advocate. He knew his bloodlines very well and was very passionate about it. He was trying to upgrade. He wanted to step up the program. I am very lucky to have had him as a friend and a partner.”

Keith's work within racing included his role as a Breeders' Cup Ambassador. The Breeders' Cup issued a statement Tuesday, which read: “We were extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Toby Keith today. In addition to his tremendous accomplishments in the music and entertainment world, Toby was a longtime Breeders' Cup Ambassador and an enthusiastic Thoroughbred owner, breeder, and fan who greatly enjoyed attending the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Along with his legion of fans, we will miss him very much and express our deepest condolences to his loved ones.”

In June, Keith announced on Twitter that he had recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer and had been undergoing treatment.

“Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer,” Keith, 60, said. “I've spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation, and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax. I am looking forward to spending this time with my family, but I will see the fans sooner than later. I can't wait.”

 

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