Coax Me Chad, who launched a furious rally to finish second to Swale in the 1984 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), has died at age 32 at Wally Burress's farm near Columbia, Ky.
Burress, an assistant trainer to Ronnie Warren, kept an eye on their famous horse through his stallion career. When that stud career ended in Ohio, Burress provided a retirement at his farm for the veteran Thoroughbred.
"He pretty well had the run of the place," Burress said. "He had his own barn and I'd let him tell me when he wanted to come in and when he wanted to go out. He was his own man and did things his way."
Doing things his way on the track often meant rallying from the back of the pack in many of his races, including his inside closing move at Churchill Downs, guided by jockey Herb McCauley, to finish second to Swale in the 1984 Derby.
"There were people who didn't think we belonged in the Derby and he started as a field horse," Burress said. "It was pretty special just to have a horse in the race; then to finish second was amazing."
Campaigned by Elmer Miller, who died in 2005, Coax Me Chad won the Cradle Stakes at River Downs as a juvenile in 1983. Bred in Kentucky by Louis Brooks Sr., Coax Me Chad finished fifth in the 1984 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
After the Triple Crown season, the bay son of L'Enjoleur won the Jefferson Cup Stakes as a 3-year-old at Churchill Downs.
Coax Me Chad is the sire of 88 winners and 131 starters who have earned more than $3.86 million. He is the sire of seven stakes winners including grade II winner Coaxing Matt.
After his racing career, Burress kept track of Coax Me Chad and would visit the Derby runner-up. When the Ohio farm where he was standing, S & G Stables in Marengo, Ohio, decided to pension him, Burress said he would provide the 26-year-old horse a home. Burress said he met with staff at Old Friends on caring for older horses.
"When we got him, I thought it would be great if he could make it to 30. He made it to 30 and kept on going," Burress said. "It was a real pleasure to get to care for him during his retirement."
Coax Me Chad was euthanized March 31 as bad knees had severely limited his quality of life. He won three of 22 starts and earned $324,744.