NEW YORK — Edward P. Evans, one of thoroughbred racing's leading owners and breeders, has died after a brief illness. He was 68.
Evans died Friday night at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, his personal secretary Catherine Moraetis said Saturday. She said the cause of death was acute myeloid leukemia.
Evans owned Spring Hill Farm in Casanova, Va., and his horses won more than 100 stakes races during his 30-plus years as an owner. Funeral services will be private, and Evans will be buried at his farm, Moraetis said.
Quality Road was among Evans' best horses, earning more than $2.2 million with victories that included the Woodward Stakes and the Metropolitan Handicap in 2010. Other horses bred by Evans included 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, Gygistar and Tap Dance.
"He was one of the last remaining old-style owners and breeders, and a very successful one at that," said racing manager Chris Baker, who worked for Evans the past 10 years. "It's a tremendous loss for all of us who worked for him and for the sport as well. We will miss the man first, the sportsman second."
Evans, a former chairman of publisher MacMillan Inc., was the son of Thomas Mellon Evans, also a breeder-owner whose Buckland Farm produced 1981 Kentucky Derby winner Pleasant Colony.
Evans recently donated $50 million to his alma mater, Yale University, to help with construction of a new campus for its school of management.
"I'd say he considered himself a businessman first, a philanthropist second and then a horseman," Moraetis said.
In 2010, Evans ranked seventh among owners in North America with $3.6 million in purse earnings. Among his other recent winners were Cat Moves, Malibu Prayer and A Little Warm.
Quality Road was the standout. The colt won or placed in 12 of 13 career starts, and will stand at stud this year at Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky. Quality Road won the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Florida Derby as a 3-year-old, and was among the Kentucky Derby favorites before being sidelined with hoof issues. He returned as a 4-year-old to win the Woodward and Met Mile.
"Edward Evans was one of the most prominent horsemen on the New York circuit and you would be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about horses and horse racing," New York Racing Association president Charles Hayward said. "It is not going to be the same without his presence at the NYRA tracks, and he will be sorely missed throughout the industry."
Evans, born in Pittsburgh, bought his 3,000 acre Virginia farm in 1969, and was the state's breeder of the year six times and chosen national breeder of the year by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in 2009.
"The industry has lost an icon," Tony Dutrow, who trains A Little Warm, said on the Thoroughbred Times' website. "He was one of the greatest American breeders, and this is a very sad day to start off the year."