Hall of Fame trainer 'Mack' Miller (Oct. 16, 1921 - Dec. 11, 2010)
Unanimously considered one of the most distinguished trainers when it came being a gentleman, gracious, polite and of course successful. A loss for the sport and showing such a sharp contrast with many trainers of today and their personalities.
Mackenzie "Mack" Miller, the Hall of Famer, per the Daily Racing Form "personified the old school of gentleman trainers", died Saturday morning at the Markey Cancer Center at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where he had been hospitalized since having a stroke Dec. 5. He was 89.
He attended the first Keeneland meet in 1936 and dropped out of college a few years later to join the Air Force and serve in World War II. Known as the “Gentleman Trainer of Morgan Street,” Miller got his trainer's license in 1949. He previously worked with broodmares at Calumet Farm for several years before opening a public stable in 1949. He trained his first stakes winner, Oil Painting, in 1955, and his first champion, Leallah, the co-champion 2-year-old filly of 1956.
Miller became the private trainer in the mid-1960s for industrialist Charles Englehard, for whom he trained such top horses as Assagai and Hawaii, both grass champions, as well as Halo, Mr. Leader, and Tentam. Miller became the private trainer for Mellon in 1977.
It was his work with the Mellon/Rokeby Stables that perhaps best stamped his name on the sport. Mellon's sole Kentucky Kentucky victory was delivered by Sea Hero (1993) - trained by Miller. Was it the best horse her trained?
But Miller always considered Mellon's Java Gold, a dominant colt in 1987, as the best horse he ever trained. At Saratoga in the summer of 1987, Java Gold defeated older horses in the Whitney Stakes, then returned two weeks later in the Travers and beat such stars as Alysheba, Bet Twice and Cryptoclearance.
With the 13-1 upset in the 119th Derby by Sea Hero, Miller and Mellon became known as a horse racing version of the Sunshine Boys for capturing the sport's greatest prize at the ages of 71 and 85, respectively. That success was widely acknowledged and applauded as a much-deserved crowning achievement, given their lifelong devotion to racing and their genteel manner.
In addition to being a trainer he also had breeding succes:
Miller also was a renowned breeder, in partnership with Dr. R. Smiser West. Their top horses included De La Rose, the champion turf female in 1981; Chilukki, champion 2-year-old filly in 1999; and 1991 Kentucky Oaks winner Lite Light.
Miller retired from training in 1995 when Paul Mellon began dispersing his racing stock. In addition to Mellon's Sea Hero (Kentucky Derby 1993; Travers 1993) he also trained more than 70 other stakes winners, including Fit to Fight, Java Gold, and Snow Knight, all for Mellon. He was based primarily in New York during his 46-year training career.
Mack Miller - A gentleman and class act, along with being a heckuva horseman. The equines he trained speak for themselves - Hawaii, Tentam, Java Gold, Lite Light, and Sea Hero among others. I think people now often forget Hawaii, but what a HORSE!
Hawaii sired many quality racehorses, but he also fathered the immortal eventer
'Molokai', Dorothy Trapp Crowell's silver medalist mount at the World Equestrian Games at the Hague.
A tip of the hat to you Mr. Miller. You and your horses brought us all joy and excitement. Take Java Gold and have a gallop up to heaven.
Thank you for Halo and Mr. Leader. I had horses from both of these lines. Say hello to them for me and thank them for giving me time with Knight Errant and Mighty Leader. May we all be so blessed to have such horsemen in our midst again.
"We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK