Peterson's Death Called Apparent Accidental Drug Overdose

Peterson's Death Called Apparent Accidental Drug Overdose
Photo: Benoit
Trainer Doug Peterson.
Doug Peterson, best known for training 1977 Triple Crown hero Seattle Slew to an Eclipse Award as the country's top older horse in 1978, was found dead of an apparent accidental drug overdose in a hotel room the evening of Nov. 21. He was 53.

According to Los Angeles Police Department homicide coordinator Mike DiPasquale, Peterson checked into the Crowne Plaza hotel near Hollywood Park the previous morning and wasn't seen or heard from again by the hotel staff. Because repeated attempts to get Peterson to answer the door failed, the police were called and after they gained access to the room at about 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21, found Peterson dead on the floor.

"(Because of the evidence) we're considering the death an accidental overdose; right now we're not calling it a suicide," DePasquale said. "It will take the coroner between 60 and 90 days to do a full toxicology and until then we won't know what or how much (drugs) was in his system."

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County coroner's office said their investigation will be complete in "about a week" and that Peterson's body was still being held at their office.

Peterson took over the training of Seattle Slew in 1978 from Billy Turner, who was fired by owners Karen and Mickey Taylor and Sally and Jim Hill. In Peterson's care, Seattle Slew won the Marlboro Cup (gr. I), Woodward Stakes (gr. I), and Stuyvesant Handicap (gr. III), and also finished second by a nose to Exceller in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). That year, Seattle Slew won five of seven starts overall and earned $473,006.

In addition to Seattle Slew, Peterson also trained multiple stakes winner Sigfreto and Apalachee Ridge, who set the six furlong track record of 1:07 2/5 at Hollywood Park in 1997. He was also well known as one of the Southern California circuit's top claiming trainers.

Peterson is survived by one son, David. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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