Deceased stallion Dixie Brass.

Deceased stallion Dixie Brass.

Tony Leonard

Attorney Murphy Awaits Autopsy on Dixie Brass

Karen Murphy, an attorney representing owner Michael Watral, said she is coordinating an investigation into the unexpected death Jan. 28 of leading New York stallion Dixie Brass.

The 13-year-old graded-stakes winning son of Dixieland Band died in his stall at The Stallion Park in Millbrook, N.Y. Of the stallions who stood in the state in 2001, he topped the earnings list with more than $4 million. He was scheduled to stand at the Stallion Station again this breeding season for a fee of $10,000.

Murphy said Thursday an autopsy on Dixie Brass was performed at New Bolton Center, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Kennett Square, Pa. Murphy said she had yet to receive a copy of the report.

"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."
Before seeing the autopsy report, Murphy said she is not willing to use the word "irregular" to characterize Dixie Brass' death.

"But there are questions, certainly, that need answers and they will all get answers," she said. "We owe it to Dixie Brass."

Murphy said the autopsy was done at New Bolton because Dixie Brass was treated at Cornell University at the start of the 2001 breeding season. She said she wanted a different equine hospital to perform the autopsy.

"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 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.