Empress Club, a South African Horse of the Year, died suddenly Dec. 19 at Gainesway Farm (Antony Beck, president) near Lexington. Owned by South African owner Laurie Jaffee, the stakes-producing daughter of Farnesio out of the El Gran Capitan mare Elysee was in foal to Gainesway stallion Orientate.Empress Club was bred in Argentina and imported as a yearling by Jaffee to South Africa. In her new land, she won 15 of 20 races, including eight group I stakes, and was a five-time South African champion. Following her arrival in the U.S., she won the 1994 Hillsborough Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Bay Meadows.Empress Club retired to Gainesway, then operated by Beck's father, Graham J. Beck of South Africa, with a record of 16 wins from 26 starts and earnings of $1,155,235. Her first foal was a Lyphard colt. Named Azouz Pasha, he was an English stakes winner. Empress Club's other two winners also were Northern Hemisphere winners. Empress Club produced six named foals. Her youngest offspring is an unnamed 2004 colt by Thunder Gulch.