George Onett, Breeder of Champion Cherokee Run, Dead

George Onett, breeder of champions Cherokee Run and Par Excellance, died Nov. 7 at his Ocala, Fla., home of an apparent heart attack.

Onett was the sole breeder of Cherokee Run, and bred Par Excellance in partnership with Roy Kennedy. Cherokee Run was voted 1994 champion sprinter after winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). For his career, the son of Runaway Groom won 13 of 28 races and earned $1,531,818. He has since carved out a successful career at stud.
Par Excellance, a daughter of L'Enjoleur, was a Canadian champion at 2 and 3. Her big win came in the classic 1980 Canadian Oaks.

Onett, who operated Stone Gate Farm near Ocala, Fla., was one of the founders of Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. and served as its first chairman. Started in 1974, the company held its first sale in 1975 and later became a major force in auctions.

Onett bred 10 other added-money winners, including the stakes-winning half-siblings Groomstick and Count Francescui. Groomstick won 11 stakes and earned $668,510, Count Francescui, whom Onett raced, was a multiple stakes winner. Onett also raced their stakes-winning half-brother, Cherokee Fellow. Purchased privately prior to his first start, Cherokee Fellow stood at stud for a time at Stone Gate and sired 15 stakes winners, four of which were bred by Onett.

An attorney, Onett served as lobbyist for Gulfstream Park, Tropical Park, and now defunct Hialeah in the 1960s. He also fought to allow Sunday racing.

Onett, a member of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association, is survived by his wife, Ann, and three sons and a daughter.