Elmer E. Miller, whose Coax Me Chad ran second in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), died Sept. 19 at a Cincinnati hospital after a long battle with cancer. A resident of Lawrenceville, Ind., he was 75.
Miller experienced the thrill of a lifetime when his Coax Me Chad closed from way back to finish second to Claiborne Farm's Swale in the 1984 Churchill classic. Trained by Ronnie Warren, Coax Me Chad ended up a stakes winner at Churchill later that year, winning the Jefferson Cup.
As a 2-year-old, Coax Me Chad was the first of Miller's three winners of the Miller High Life Cradle Stakes at River Downs. Go for It Matt won the 1985 running, and homebred Coaxing Chad captured the race the following year when it was a grade III event.
Miller also raced at Keeneland, and one of his wins there was good enough for the record books. His filly Foxy Deen paid a Keeneland record $222.60 for a $2 win bet in capturing the 1984 Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) for her very first win. Miller didn't bet her, but his wife, Marlene, did.
The following year, Foxy Deen won the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill and placed in such stakes as the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), and Ashland Stakes (gr. II).
Miller started in racing in the early 1970s after his wife asked him, "Why don't you buy a horse? You spend a lot of the time at the track anyway." Their first stakes winner, Tony's Tumble, came along in 1975, and raced in Marlene's name.
Miller was known for having "Coax" and the names of his children and grandchildren in his horse's names. The "Coax" part came from Miller liking for the great champion Buckpasser. The name of one of Buckpasser's sons, L'Enjoleur, translated from French means, "coax or gentle urging."
As an owner, Miller raced 14 stakes winners included Coax Stardust, Coaxing Matt, Coax Chelsie, Coax Chad, Coax Bill, and Coax Me Again. Homebred Coaxing Matt, a son of Coax Me Chad, won or placed in 14 stakes and came close to earning $500,000. His stakes wins included victories in the Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland and the Keeneland Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT).
Miller bred seven stakes winners and his wife bred two.
Miller was a general contractor and land developer and a 54-year veteran of a carpenters' union. In addition to Marlene, Miller is survived by sons Matt and Mark, and a daughter, Melinda.