Verne Winchell, dead at 87.

Verne Winchell, dead at 87.

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Verne H. Winchell, Raced Champions Mira Femme and Tight Spot, Dead

Verne H. Winchell, who founded a successful donut company and campaigned champions Mira Femme and Tight Spot, died Nov. 26 of a heart attack following his daily exercise routine at his Las Vegas home. He had turned 87 in October.

Winchell bred both Mira Femme and Tight Spot. Mira Femme, was co-champion 2-year-old filly in 1966 after winning six of her 10 races. Her big wins came in the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes and Hollywood Lassie Stakes. As a broodmare, her descendants include Tight Spot and the latter's grade I stakes-winning full brother Valiant Nature.

Millionaire Tight Spot earned an Eclipse Award as best turf male in 1991 for Winchell and partners following victories in five of six races that year, including the Arlington Million Stakes (gr. IT). Homebred Valiant Native's big win came two years later in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).

Winchell started his donut company, Winchell's, in 1948 and the following decade named one of his horses Donut King. As a 2-year-old in 1961, Donut King won the Champagne Stakes and California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Sales Stakes.

Winchell's other top homebreds included such stars as Olympio, Sea Cadet, and Fleet Renee. Sea Cadet (bred in partnership) and Olympio were grade I winners and millionaires in the first half of the 1990s. Fleet Renee won last year's Ashland (gr. I) and Mother Goose (gr. I) Stakes. Winchell, who owned Oakwind Farm near Lexington at the time of his death, formerly owned Mira Loma Farm in California. At one time, he was chairman of the restaurant chain Denny's.

Winchell's survivors include his wife, Joan, and son Ron. The family plans to retain the farm and horses.