Steve Stavro, who bred and raced such stars as Canadian Horses of the Year Benburb and Thornfield, died April 24 of an apparent heart attack. He was 78.
Stavro was voted a Sovereign Award as both outstanding breeder and owner of 1992. It was the year Benburg was Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male after winning the classic Prince of Wales Stakes (Can-IR) and defeating United States star A.P. Indy
while winning the Molson Export Million Stakes (gr. II). The following year, Stavro's filly Apelia was champion sprinter.
Thornfield and another champion, Saoirse, came later. Thornfield was 1999 Horse of the Year and best grass male after winning the Canadian International Stakes (Can-IT). Saoirse was top older female in 2000.
A native of Macedonia, Stavro came to Canada as a a youngster and worked in his father grocery store. He later opened his own grocery store and started the Knob Hill Farms grocery chain. He also was a part owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a governor of the National Hockey League.
Stavro bred and raced his horses in the name Knob Hill Stable. He campaigned such other important winners as Debra's Victory, Granacus, Megas Vukefalos, Schossberg, and Zadracarta.
Granacus and Schossberg were grade I winners south of the border. Granacus won the 1988 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. (I) at Keeneland, and Schossberg captured the Jerome (gr. I) and Philip H. Iselin (gr. I) Handicaps.
Stavro also was big soccer fan and is a member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.