By T. D. Thornton
Dan Kenny, a Kentucky-based bloodstock agent also known for his work as a television commentator on racing broadcasts, died Christmas Day in Atlanta after battling Lewy body dementia.
Tony Lacy, the sales and bloodstock consultant for Four Star Sales, where Kenny had been a partner, confirmed the death via phone on Wednesday. He said he believed Kenny was 73.
“He handled his illness very bravely. Dan was an inspiration to us all. Not only was he a mentor to a lot of people, but he was just an all-around great person,” Lacy said.
Kenny had moved into an assisted living center about a year ago, and recently had to be switched to hospice care because of the progression of his illness, Lacy said.
“He was with his family–his son and his brother live down there. It wasn't unexpected, but obviously we're sad to see him go,” Lacy said.
“To be quite Frank, Dan was a good horseman, but an even better person,” Lacy said. “And I think it's a true testament to anybody's character to be remembered that way. Dan lived life to the fullest. He never missed an opportunity to experience something that was worthwhile. To him, a stranger was a friend he hadn't met yet.”
According to his Four Star Sales biography, Kenny was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and began his bloodstock work in 1972 after first embarking upon a career as a journalist. He honed his Thoroughbred experience in Canada and California before establishing his own farm in Kentucky in 1993, advising clients through the firm Dan Kenny Bloodstock.
Outside of the auction scene, broodmares and matings were Kenny's specialty, and his bio noted that he was most proud of having purchased In Neon, the eventual 1998 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, for longtime client John Franks. Kenny was also known for selecting the future dam of Eclipse Award winner Chilukki, the champion 2-year-old filly of 1999.
Kenny was also involved in the Thoroughbred industry as an auction announcer, bloodstock appraiser, sales consignor, horse owner, and broadcast commentator with NBC, ESPN and CBC. He had served as a director of the Kentucky Equine Education Project and as chairman for the Oral History Committee at the University of Kentucky.
“He loved to travel, he loved the industry, he loved the sport,” Lacy said. “He was always in the press box at various racetracks, and if there was a microphone or a camera, he was always in front of it. Dan was very knowledgeable, very shrewd, a great handicapper. He had a true, true passion for the sport.
“He loved the characters that were involved, at all levels,” Lacy summed up. “He was a person who could speak to a Hollywood celebrity, and be just as comfortable chatting with a hotwalker in the barn. I've never met anybody who didn't like him, and I think the way he lived his life was an example to all of us.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.