Sikura's Death Confirmed as Accidental

The Nov. 1994 death of Canadian owner and breeder John Sikura Sr. has been confirmed as accidental following a review of the case by the Chief Coroner of Ontario. Sikura, 60, died on his way back from a restaurant when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car in his driveway. The car subsequently burst into flames, Sikura died of smoke inhalation, and General Motors settled a product-liability suit with the Sikura family.

Since Sikura's death, stories have appeared in Toronto-area newspapers alleging mystery witnesses, alternative motives, and police corruption in the case, prompting its reopening.

"It always has been and remains a tragic accident, and anything printed contrary to that has been irresponsible," said John Sikura Jr., who owns Hill 'n' Dale Farm in Lexington. "The Toronto Star has used a bunch of unnamed sources that uncovered a pack of untruths. There was no sensitivity for the family, an absolute lack of respect, and it was total nonsense. Hopefully this puts it to rest, but people read a headline and they think it's true."

Ontario Chief Coroner Jim Young concluded that the fire in Sikura's car was a result of mechanical/electrical problems. He added that there was no evidence indicating homicide by either arson or an explosive device.

The elder Sikura parlayed a Toronto-area farm into a major stateside operation when he moved to Kentucky in the '70s. He belonged to a syndicate that became the first entity to buy a yearling for more than a $1 million when it paid $1.5 million for a Secretariat colt at the 1976 Keeneland July sale. The horse never came close to fulfilling lofty expectations. Sikura bred Rahy, the second-leading sire for 2001, who has sired outstanding runners such as Fantastic Light, Serena's Song, and Tranquility Lake.