J.T. Lundy Passes at 82

Calumet Farm | Sarah Andrew

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J.T. Lundy, the controversial former president of Calumet Farm, passed away Tuesday. He was 82.

The news was reported on Facebook by his sister, Kathy Lundy Jones, and his son, Robert. According to Robert's post, Lundy fell in November, suffered from a head injury and never fully recovered.

According to the BloodHorse, Lundy was a native of Georgetown, Ky. and grew up on a farm working primarily around show cattle. He told the magazine in 1990 that he eventually steered into the horse business because it appeared to be more lucrative than cattle and “it was more fun.”

After operating his own farm, Lundy got his foot in the door at Calumet when he married Lucille “Cindy” Wright, the granddaughter of Calumet founder Warren Wright, Sr. Lucille Wright died in 1982, which paved the way for Lundy to take over the day-to-day operations of the farm.

With Lundy at the helm, Calumet enjoyed success on the racetrack and in the breeding business. In Alydar, Calumet was home to one of the top sires in the sport. Calumet's best horse at the time turned out to be homebred Criminal Type, who was named Horse of the Year in 1990. Another star was GI Shuvee H. winner Tis Juliet. Calumet Farm won the 1990 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder.

Things took a turn in the wrong direction starting in November of 1990 when the then 15-year-old Alydar kicked his stall door and fractured his leg. He was euthanized two days later. Alydar was insured for $36 million, which raised suspicions about his death that persist today.

Though it might have seemed that Calumet was in sound shape financially, that turned out to be untrue. Under Lundy, Calumet was deep in debt due to his fraud and mismanagement. Calumet filed for bankruptcy protection in 1991 and was losing $1 million a month. Lundy resigned as the farm's president in April of 1991. Then under former trainer John Ward, Jr., Calumet was forced to sell off property and reduce its holdings.

In 2000, Lundy, along with Gary Matthews, Calumet's former attorney and chief financial officer, was convicted of fraud and bribery and sent to prison. Along with a 4 1/2-year prison sentence, Lundy was ordered to pay $20.4 million in restitution. A jury found that Lundy and Matthews had committed fraud when acquiring $65 million in loans made to Calumet by the First City National Bank of Houston through bribery and deceit.

According to the BloodHorse, federal prosecutors argued Lundy deserved a stiffer penalty because he was responsible for the death of Alydar, which was the main asset securing the loans. On that latter allegation, United States District Court Judge Sim Lake would conclude: “There is some physical evidence, and circumstances surrounding the event are suspicious, but I cannot conclude he is responsible.”

Lundy was released from prison in 2005.

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