Midwest trainer John E. Churchman Jr., who started two horses in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), died Aug. 18 after a long illness. A Louisville native, he was 74.
Churchman, who started training in the mid-1960s, conditioned eight stakes winners, including homebred Ice Fantasy. The first stakes winner trained by Churchman, Ice Fantasy won the 1982 Debutante Stakes at Churchill after breaking her maiden by 13 lengths at the track.
Churchman’s other stakes winners included Fighting Fantasy and Bravoure. Fighting Fantasy, a daughter of Ice Fantasy, won the 1989 Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park at 2 and the 1990 Thomas D. Nash Memorial Handicap (gr. III) at Sportsman’s Park.
Bravoure captured the $200,000 Miller High Life Cradle Stakes (gr. III) as a 2-year-old at River Downs in 1988.
Churchman saddled Fighting Fantasy and Wilder Than Ever in the Kentucky Derby. Fighting Fantasy finished unplaced in 1990, and Wilder Than Ever failed to hit the board in 1991.
Churchman operated a small stable in recent years. His last victory came Jan. 28, 2008, at Turfway Park.
Churchman is survived by his wife, Joyce, and a son, Gary, who is a farrier at Churchill.
Visitation is Thursday, Aug. 20, from 1:00 to 8:00 and Friday, Aug. 21, from 9:00 to noon at Nunnelley Funeral Home, 4327 Taylor Blvd. in Louisville. The funeral will follow at noon.