By Bill Finley
Fasig-Tipton Senior Account Executive Dennis Lynch, “some kind of special man” according to all who knew him, passed away Friday after long battle with cancer. He was 68.
A notice confirming Lynch's death was posted Friday on a blog he had been writing. It read: “Husband, father, brother, uncle and friend he was this to all of us. He was also a man of deep faith in God. 'Let's roll from the quarter pole' is something Dennis said many times when he wanted to get everyone moving in the same direction. Although we were not ready for him to leave us, Dennis was ready to move to heaven.'”
Dennis Henry Lynch was born July 19, 1951, in Ashland, Kentucky. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, he worked in mid-1970s at Buck Pond Farm in Kentucky for Vic Heerman and Susan Proskauer, who co-owned the farm. Dennis would often recall working there when Spectacular Bid was born surprisingly in a field. Later, he worked in pedigree department at the Blood-Horse and consigned horses as an agent at various sales.
He moved to California because, “he wanted to see those San Gabriel Mountains,” as he so often said, where he worked for the highly respected Southern California trainer, Gene Cleveland. He also worked for the CTBA and Bloodstock agent Rollin Baugh before forming Lynch Bloodstock.
As a bloodstock agent, his clients included Due Process Stables, Bill Herrick and the successful TV producer David Milch. He purchased, as agent for Milch, the 1992 Eclipse champion juvenile Gilded Time as a 2-year-old at the OBS February sale.
He was very involved with the formation of Barretts Equine Sales in California as a National Field Representative and Inspector, recruiting horses and sellers for Barretts in the early years. But, in 1995, wanting to return to his native Kentucky, he accepted a position with Fasig-Tipton and was heavily involved in the recruitment of horses and client development for the company up until his passing. He served as one of Fasig-Tipton's lead yearling inspectors throughout his time with the company, working closely alongside the late Bill Graves.
A truly beloved character of racing and sales, he was known for his clever sense of humor and generous spirit. He had friends all over the world. Millionaire racehorse Del Mar Dennis, who won three consecutive runnings of the San Bernardino H. at Santa Anita from 1994-1996, was named after Lynch by the horse's owners Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan.
Upon learning of his death, Lynch's friends were eager to talk about what a special person he was. Many of them remarked that he would do anything for anybody.
“I am devastated,” said Pat Costello, the co-owner of Paramount Sales. “He was some kind of special man. He touched so many people and always made everybody else feel great. He was selfless to the core, just a beautiful human being. He is in a better place now.”
Costello's partner at Paramount, Spider Duignan, also recalled a person to whom everybody took an instant liking.
“What a shame,” he said. “He fought a great fight and he had been fighting this for a while. What a super guy. He was always in good humor. He loved life and he loved having fun. Dennis was a friend to a lot of people. I exchanged some texts with him fairly recently. After a while, he was not doing great, but he was at peace with his illness. He had a deep religious faith and that helped him a lot there at the end. He was very much at peace with this and he fought it until the very end.”
Adrian Regan, a co-owner of Hunter Valley Farm recalled an occasion when Lynch put his own illness aside in an attempt to reach out to Regan's mother.
“My mother was sick at the end of last year and Dennis took it upon himself to write a letter to my mother even though he was having treatment at the time as well,” he said. “That's the type of guy Dennis was. He had everybody's best interests at heart. He was just a fantastic man and a fantastic friend.”
In his last post to the blog, Lynch wrote on Apr. 18 about getting the news from his doctors that he only had a few weeks to a few months to live, and praised his wife, Susan, for her support.
“Bad news, I know, but I sit here thinking my family is provided for,” he wrote. “I come from the greatest Irish Catholic family ever, have more and better friends than anyone, and have had more fun in my lifetime than is imaginable. I say that's pretty good. I have great resolve in my faith knowing that the eternal reward is what we all strive for. Susan has been and is unbelievably strong and my boys are coming in so we are fine here and going to get settled in to make things easier on them (and me). I love all of you.”
In a Jan. 23 post, Lynch wrote about how much his friends meant to him.
“The last two years have brought several challenges,” he wrote. “They also have provided some outstanding opportunities to grow and learn. Cancer is one of the unforeseen consequences, for some of us, of being alive. This time in my life has been characterized by humor, sorrow, lightness and darkness, and it is something that will remain truly vivid in my mind. I have learned a lot about myself, my family and so many of my friends. Without all of them and my faith, this journey would have been so much more difficult, if not impossible. I will never forget the kindness, love, and prayers shown towards me.”
Lynch's duties at Fasig-Tipton included traveling to farms across the U.S. to evaluate horses that the sales company was considering accepting for an upcoming sale. Duignan said Lynch went above and beyond to give guidance to the prospective sellers.
“He was one of the recruiters and he used to come out and inspect the stock that we had nominated,” he said. “He would always give us a very fair assessment and give us good advice whether the horse would fit the particular sale we were aiming for. He was always there for someone to call, for a bit of advice.”
His workmates at Fasig-Tipton were devastated at the loss, which came so quickly after that of Bill Graves just last year.
“Dennis was a true champion of the underdog and underprivileged,” said Fasig-Tipton's President Boyd Browning.
“None of us will ever know how many lives he touched or how many people he helped because he never wanted any credit. He was an exceptional horseman with an exceptional heart. We will miss him dearly.”
“It would take a basketful of adjectives to describe the personality of Dennis, and it could never be complete,” said Fasig-Tipton's longtime announcer Terence Collier. “When you check the dictionary for `enigma,' there will be the photo of Dennis. He leaves a painful void in the lives of all those who knew him, particularly his colleagues at Fasig-Tipton. But for his beautiful wife, Susan, and his two accomplished sons, his memory will be with them forever.”
Max Hodge, the Vice President of Client Services, said, “He was a big brother to us all here at Fasig-Tipton and to so many within the Thoroughbred community. He was a great friend, co-worker, mentor, confidant and inspiration to me for my entire adult life. His office was the heartbeat of our office building and overflowed with wisdom, humor, sage counsel, and those in search of the same. He prioritized family and religion above all else. I miss him dearly. He beat the game.”
Account Executive Peter Penny said “He was one of my best friends. I loved the guy. Meeting him, and getting to know him as I have, has enriched my life more than he could ever know. He made life that much more fun.”
Lynch is survived by his wife, Susan, and his two sons, Barton and Hank.
The TDN invites those who would like to share a story about Dennis for publication to email [email protected] and we we will publish them in a future edition.