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Champion Lord Avie dies at 34

Lord Avie, who reigned as the champion two-year-old of 1980 and the oldest living Eclipse Award winner, has died at the age of 34. According to the Paulick Report, Lord Avie succumbed to the infirmities of old age at Blue Ridge Farm near Upperville, Virginia, on Friday afternoon.

"He was the horse of a lifetime for me," said retired trainer Dan Perlsweig, 85, who recommended the colt's purchase for $37,000 at the Hialeah two-year-old sales in 1980. "He gave me a lot of pleasure and opened many doors for me and my family."

During his championship season, Lord Avie compiled a 10-5-3-2 mark, highlighted by victories in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, Grade 1 Young America Stakes, Grade 2 Cowdin Stakes and the Juvenile Stakes at Belmont. He placed in four additional stakes in 1978 -- the Grade 1 Hopeful, Grade 1 Arlington-Washington Futurity, Grade 1 Sapling and Tremont Stakes.

Syndicated in January of 1981 for $10 million, Lord Avie hit the Kentucky Derby trail at Gulfstream Park. After winning the Hutcheson, and finishing a close third, beaten a neck, in the Grade 3 Fountain of Youth, the son of Lord Gaylord romped in the Grade 1 Florida Derby to become the early Kentucky Derby favorite.

Unfortunately, his Triple Crown dreams were shattered by a suspensory injury. Lord Avie made a winning return in a Monmouth allowance that summer, and ended his career with placings in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and Grade 1 Travers.

Retired with an admirable record of 16-8-4-4, $705,977, Lord Avie entered stud at Spendthrift Farm. He subsequently transferred to Lane's End and held court there until he was pensioned in 2002.

His leading performers include Canadian champion turf horse Cloudy's Knight; the globetrotting filly Ode; and Grade/Group 1 winners Magical Maiden, Fly for Avie, Metamorphose and Pigricia. As a broodmare sire, Lord Avie was responsible for Lawyer Ron, the champion older horse of 2007.

Perlsweig visited Lord Avie in retirement at least once every year, first in Kentucky and later in Virginia, when multiple Eclipse Award-winning photographer Barbara Livingston captured a remarkable image of the two together at Blue Ridge in April.

Ironically, on Friday, Livingston's photo garnered an honorable mention for the 2012 Eclipse Award for photography. Her images of Lord Avie are accessible here.

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