Robert M. Miller, who was a leading Michigan breeder/owner/trainer, died Aug. 8 following a short bout with cancer. Miller and his wife, Delphine, owned Del-Rob Farm near Clarkston, Mich. He was 76.
The Millers best horse was homebred Monetary Gift, who not only won seven stakes over four years, but developed into a leading Michigan stallion, They also stood another successful stallion, Banderilla, at Del-Rob.
The Millers bought Del-Rob because they needed a place to house their fillies. They had raced the fillies in partnership, but later bought out their partners. "When the fillies stopped racing, we said, 'Now what do we do with them,' " Delphine Miller said. "I was in real estate at the time and spent many days looking at farm land. We finally found a farm near Clarkston and have been here ever since."
Prior to his days in racing, Miller played defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League from 1952-58. Quarterbacked by future Hall of Famer Bobby Layne, the Lions won titles in 1952-53 and 1957.
Miller campaigned horses with former teammates Joe Schmidt, Gil Mains, and Darris McCord under the name Red Dog Stable. A "red dog" was unique in that a linebacker or two joined the linemen in rushing the quarterback. Red Dog campaigned stakes winner Kim's Quill.
A Connecticut native, Miller had played college ball at the University of Virginia. He used the team's name, Cavaliers, in naming his automotive farms firm. Based in Detroit, Cavalier Manufacturing supplied brake pedals and other parts to car builders.
The Millers bred 33 stakes winners, and raced about 20 added-money winners. Following the closing of Ladbroke DRC (formerly Detroit Race Course), the Millers raced at Great Lakes Down in Michigan. As recently as July 22, Deb's Favorite Gift, who was bred by Delphine Miller, won the Moonbeam Handicap at that track.
The Millers were honored with a 1989 Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association award as Michigan's leading owners and breeders.
Miller felt he worked just as hard in racing as when he prepared for his gridiron battles. "I leave the farm about 5:30 in the morning, arrive at the track by 6:30, leave in mid-morning to attend to other businesses, return to the track in the afternoon, and get back to the farm whenever," he said years ago."
In addition to Delphine, Miller is survived by daughters Deborah and Kim and several stepchildren. Delphine Miller plans to hold a dispersal of the horses in the fall. She currently owns about 80 horses.