Dave's Friend with best friend Johnny Whittington in 2005.

Dave's Friend with best friend Johnny Whittington in 2005.

Barbara D. Livingston

Dave's Friend Dies at 31

Dave's Friend, a multiple champion in Maryland, died June 14 at the late John Franks' farm near Shreveport, La. He was 31.

Johnny Whittington, farm manager at Franks Farm for more than 20 years, said the decision to euthanize the son of Friend's Choice came early on the morning of his death. "He was just in overall poor health and was digressing pretty fast," Whittington said. "He was such a special horse that we didn't want him to suffer anymore. It was a sad thing to do, but it was the best thing for the animal."

Whittington said Dave's Friend had suffered from Stridor disease, a constriction of the pharynx, since the early 1990s. He underwent throat surgery a decade ago, but his breathing remained difficult and the hot Louisiana summers made him uncomfortable.

Dave's Friend, who won 17 stakes--setting or equaling six track records--and winning 35 of 76 starts in a nine-year campaign, earning $1,079,915, was buried at the farm. In Maryland he was crowned that state's champion 3-year-old, champion older horse, and Horse of the Year.

Bred in Maryland by Robert Beall, Dave's Friend was produced from the winning Duc de Fer mare Duc's Tina and raced for his wife until Franks privately purchased him at age six.

Dave's Friend and his late owner, who passed away Dec. 31, 2003, shared a special relationship. Franks, who earned four leading owner Eclipse Awards, stopped by his favorite gelding's paddock daily to feed him peppermints. "I promised Mr. Franks I would take care of Dave," Whittington said. "He had a lot of class."