Dr. Ben F. Roach, whose many stakes winners as a breeder include Horse of the Year Charismatic and inaugural Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Princess Rooney, died the morning of Sept. 16 at age 86 at the Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, Ky. A family practitioner, Roach had been in excellent health, but had hit his head in a fall Sept. 2 at his home on Paris Pike in Lexington, and never recovered. Chairman of the Markey Cancer Center, Roach owned Parrish Hill Farm near Midway, Ky. with his son, Tom Roach II.
"Dad's accident came the same day Charlie Nuckols died," Tom Roach said about the Central Kentucky horseman. "Racing just lost two giants."
Charismatic was bred by the Roaches in partnership with one of Ben Roach's patients, Lane's End Farm owner William S. Farish, in a foal-share arrangement. Charismatic earned 1999 Horse of the Year honors and a 3-year-old championship by virtue of winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I). He ran a close third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
"We raised Charismatic at the farm," Tom Roach said. "After the Derby, my dad and I were in the winner's circle with Will. It was something my dad always looked forward to."
Princess Rooney, bred by Ben and Tom Roach, compiled a superior race record, winning 17 of 21 starts and earning $1,343,339 in the first half of the 1980s. She won the Distaff by seven lengths--a record margin until 1995--and her other victories included a triumph in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
A prominent commercial breeding operation, Parrish Hill bred such other stakes winners as grade I winners Millennium Wind
(a half-brother to Charismatic) and Storm Tower, plus grade II winner Queen of Song, who raced for Parrish Hill. Among the other good ones bred solely by Roach were Queen of Song's grade I-winning full brother Cormorant.
In addition to Tom, Roach's survivors include his wife, Linda; another son, Jim, who took over the family medical practice in Midway; daughters Helen and Judy; and sisters Helen and Betsy.
Contributions may be made to the Markey Cancer Center, 800 Rose Street cc160, Lexington, Ky. 40536-0093, or to the Homeplace Nursing Home Task Force, P.O. Box 3964, Midway, Ky. 40347.