With the passing of MacKenzie L. “Mack” Miller, racing lost one of its finest gentlemen as well as a great trainer and horseman. A member of the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame since 1987, Miller trained 72 stakes winners during his career including champions Leallah (1956 co-champion juvenile filly), Assagai (1966 champion turf horse), Hawaii (1969 champion turf horse), and Snow Knight (1976 champion turf male), as well as 1993 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) victor Sea Hero, four-time grade I winner Java Gold, and the fine racehorses and important sires Halo, Tentam, and Mr. Leader.
What is somewhat less well known is Miller’s “other” career as a breeder. In partnership with his wife, Martha, and their close friends, Dr. and Mrs. R. Smiser West, Miller enjoyed great success from a relatively small broodmare band until the dispersal of their stock at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale and the 2007 Keeneland November mixed sale following Dr. West’s death.
One of the partnership’s foundation mares was the My Babu mare Pashamin, acquired from Cragwood Estates after producing the 1972 Majestic Prince colt Heir to It All. For the Millers and Wests, Pashamin produced 1977 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IT) winner Properantes, the Puerto Rican stakes winner Bradley U., and Irish stakes winner Estate Carlton. She also produced the winning Dr. Fager filly Passerine, who was retained for the partnership’s broodmare band and produced 1984 Gimcrack Stakes (Eng-II) winner Doulab as her first foal. Passerine later produced Loch Bering (by Bering), a multiple stakes winner in Sweden and Norway.
Passerine’s 1985 daughter by Damascus, Song of Syria, won twice in seven starts before joining her dam in the paddocks. Her sixth foal, Chilukki, was one of the best produced by the Miller-West partnership. Champion juvenile filly for Stonerside Stable in 1999 when she won five graded races (two grade I), the daughter of Cherokee Run won grade II events at ages 3 and 4 and retired having won 11 of her 17 starts. Unfortunately, Chilukki produced only four living foals, three of them winners, before her death in 2007.
Jane Arnold, a full sister to Song of Syria, and Morning Snaps, Passerine’s 1984 daughter by Believe It, also had some success as broodmares for the partnership, with the former producing the minor stakes winners Crystal Sea and Midwatch to the cover of Sea Hero and the latter producing stakes winner Morning Punch (by Explodent). A fourth daughter of Passerine, Rawaabe (by Nureyev), produced three stakes-placed runners and 1997 Vodafone Horris Hill Stakes (Eng-III) winner La-Faah (by Lahib) for Shadwell Estate Company.
Another former Cragwood matron who did well for the Miller-West partnership was the Round Table mare Rosetta Stone, who came to the partners after spending several years in the ownership of Mrs. Charles Engelhard. The dam of two-time Firenze Handicap (gr. IIT) winner Lie Low (by Dr. Fager) for Cragwood and 1978 Suburban Handicap (gr. I) winner Upper Nile (by Nijinsky II) for Mrs. Englehard, Rosetta Stone produced 1981 champion turf female De La Rose (by Nijinsky II) as her first foal for the Millers and Wests. De La Rose went on to produce grade I winner Conquistarose (by Conquistador Cielo) and grade III winner De La Devil (by Devil’s Bag) for Kennelot Stables. Rosetta Stone is also the dam of Egyptian Rose, an unraced daughter of Sir Ivor who produced multiple English stakes winner Magical Strike (by Danzig) for the Miller-West partnership.
In his 18 years as the private trainer for Paul Mellon, Miller had become well acquainted with the family of Admiring, whose daughter Glowing Tribute had won two editions of the Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) for Mellon before going on to produce seven stakes winners including Mellon’s sole Kentucky Derby winner, Sea Hero. This acquaintance likely had much to do with the partnership’s acquisition of Printing Press (by In Reality), whose dam Wealth of Nations (by Key to the Mint) is a half sister to Glowing Tribute. For the partnership, Printing Press produced Lite Light, a four-time grade I winner for Oaktown Stable who, in turn, produced 2001 Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes (Eng-II) winner Saddad (by Gone West), 2009 Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III) winner Nite Light (by Thunder Gulch), and multiple Japanese stakes winner Gaily Egret (by Storm Cat) before her death in May 2007.
Twitchet, like Printing Press, is a descendant of the Big Hurry branch of the La Troienne family, though not through Admiring. She became the dam of multiple grade II winner Evanescent while owned by Kentucky Thoroughbred Associates and 1992 Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II) winner Tactical Advantage while owned by Hidaway Farm. For the Millers and Wests, Twitchet produced three stakes horses from her final four foals: the stakes-placed geldings High Liver (by Storm Cat) and Yuwa Caesar (by Kingmambo) and 2001 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner Tweedside (by Thunder Gulch), who added grade II tallies at ages 4 and 5 while racing for Eugene and Laura Melnyk. To date, Tweedside has produced two winners from three foals of racing age.
Whether Miller’s long-term legacy as a breeder will approach his enduring reputation as a trainer is a question for the future. But there is no question whatsoever that Mack Miller, the “Gentleman Trainer of Morgan Street,” was a class act in whatever he did. May he rest in peace.