Dan Chandler, Namesake for Stakes Winner Danthebluegrassman, Dies

Dan Chandler, whose namesake, Danthebluegrassman, was a three-time stakes winner for owner Mike Pegram, died the night of April 26 at his Versailles, Ky., home. He was 70.

Chandler, a Kentucky native who was in the casino business, was well know for putting one at ease through his jokes and story telling. "Mike and I are such great friends because I'm a great customer," Chandler said in reference to the number of McDonald's restaurants Pegram owns.

Chandler's father, A.B. "Happy" Chandler, was a Kentucky governor, U.S. senator and commissioner of major league baseball, and his nephew, Ben Chandler, serves as a U.S. representative for the Bluegrass State.

In the early 1950s, Dan Chandler played basketball for Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky and was part of the Wildcats' unbeaten team of 1953-54.

After graduation, he followed his father into politics, but was soundly beaten in each race he entered. By 1972, he had lost his wife to divorce, his money to a fast-food chicken business and had what he referred to as an "accidental brush with the IRS.

But in 1974, his life changed when he became an executive with Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

He found success in Las Vegas, where he was accepted for what he was and not for what he was expected to be.

"There is no question that my philosophy of life is 100 per cent from Daddy's thinking and teaching," Chandler said at the time. "Daddy used to say, 'I hope you have all my friends and don't inherit any of my enemies.' Well, I've made friends in Vegas that he didn't have. You've got to earn your own."

"Dapper Dan," as he was known in Vegas, met Pegram, a man with a penchant for high living, and the two became good friends.