The initial findings from an autopsy on Dixie Brass, the leading sire standing in New York in 2001, were unable to determine a cause for his death.
A 13-year-old graded stakes winning son of Dixieland Band, Dixie Brass died in his stall Jan. 28 at The Stallion Park in Millbrook, N.Y. The autopsy was performed at New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
"I received what is called the preliminary report and it is inconclusive," said Karen Murphy, an attorney representing the stallion's owner, Michael Watral.
Of the stallions who stood in the state in 2001, Dixie Brass topped the earnings list with more than $4 million. He was scheduled to stand at The Stallion Park again this breeding season for $10,000, one of the highest fees in the state.
Murphy said the staff at New Bolton Center will continue working on the case.
"As I understand it, they do a gross findings, which is what is contained in the preliminary report," she said. "Then there is a period of two to three weeks where you work together with the pathologist and he has his documents reviewed by a series of people at his university. Then they come up with a final report."
After the horse's unexpected death, Murphy decided that the remains be sent to New Bolton Center. A groom found him acting strangely and he died before a veterinarian arrived.
"It is out of the ordinary for a robust 13-year-old horse to die," Murphy said. "So you start there and the first question you have to answer is medically. That's why you do an autopsy. You look for answers in that autopsy. And you search and study what you have remaining of him.
"Where there aren't answers there, then you have go out and find the answers. I'm prepared to answer any unanswered questions."
Murphy said the autopsy was done at New Bolton because Dixie Brass was treated at Cornell at the start of the 2001 breeding season.
"It was reported that he had a respiratory infection, but there was never any diagnosis," she said. "He was having trouble breathing and over a course of time he became better.
"There was no diagnosis from that occurrence and I just thought it be prudent to go to a facility other than Cornell. To have a fresh pair of eyes on him and what was done to him last year."
Dixie Brass was purchased and trained for Watral by Dennis Brida. The colt won the 1992 Met Mile (gr. I) as a 3-year-old and the grade II Withers. He was second in the grade II Jim Dandy and the grade I Jerome. He retired with six victories from 15 starts and earning of $631,563.
In 1993, Dixie Brass began his stud career in Kentucky at Vinery. He was moved to New York in 1998.