Maurice Zilber, who trained international great Dahlia, has died at age 88, according to the Racing Post. The Egyptian-born conditioner had battled cancer the last several years.
Dahlia was England’s Horse of the Year in 1973-74 and one of four winners of the Washington, D.C., International (gr. IT) that Zilber trained. Dahlia, bred and owned by Nelson Bunker Hunt, won the 1973 running.
The following year, Dahlia was voted an Eclipse Award as top turf runner regardless of sex after winning the Canadian International Championship (gr. IIT) and Man o’ War (gr. IT) Stakes and running third in the Washington, D.C., International. Dahlia is honored with a grade II turf race held at Hollywood Park.
Zilber also trained Washington, D.C., International winners Nobiliary (in 1975) and Youth (in 1976) for Hunt. Youth earned an Eclipse Award as top turf runner. Zilber’s other International winner, Argument, won in 1980 for a partnership that included Bruce McNall’s Summa Stable.
Trillion, who raced for Hunt in partnership, was another Eclipse Award winner trained by Zilber. She was voted top grass female of 1979 after running second in four major grass stakes in less than a month.
Zilber achieved one of racing greatest feats by sending out the winners of the Prix du Jockey-Club (Fr-I, French Derby) and the Epsom Derby (Eng-I) in the same year. In 1976, Youth won the French Derby, and Empery won the big race at Epsom.
Zilber's other top runners include Hunt's Exceller, who won several group I stakes in Europe prior to his arrival in North America.