Renowned horseman Wes Lanter, who over several decades was associated with Central Kentucky’s most influential stallions, has died at the age of 58.
During tenures at Spendthrift Farm, Overbrook Farm, and Three Chimneys, Lanter was hands-on with breed-sharping stallions including Affirmed Dynaformer, Rahy, Seattle Slew, and Storm Cat.
Via Facebook on Saturday, Lexington-based trainer Eric Reed reported the death of Lanter, a Lexington native and his longtime friend.
“He was a true friend and a great horseman,” Reed posted. “He was in charge of two of the best stallions in the world, Storm Cat and Seattle Slew. He had been ill for sometime and fought the good fight. …”
Lanter had been hospitalized for the past several weeks after falling while at Reed’s house in Lake Okeechobee, Florida, and then battling a heart condition, Reed said in Lanter’s obituary at horseracingnation.com.
Lanter also worked twice at the Kentucky Horse Park, the second time managing the Hall of Champions and its retirees, including two-time Horse of the Year Cigar.
Lanter spoke eloquently about Cigar upon his death in 2014. To a crowd gathered at the Horse Park to honor the champion, it was clear he held a special reverence for the son of Palace Music. His tribute was especially moving as he perhaps represented the ideal of the Kentucky horseman and the devotion to horses.
“Cigar defined greatness for a generation. He was and will always be ‘America’s Horse’ and how appropriate that he would be guided by a pilot in red, white and blue,” Lanter said, Thoroughbred Daily News reported at the time. “His second [failed stallion] career was over almost before it even started, but that disappointment was somewhat tempered over time by what became his new calling–as an ambassador to the fans of racing and a beacon to those who hadn’t yet discovered the pageantry and drama a good day at the races can present.
“So many times, my colleagues and I heard a whisper–’Look, over there, that’s Cigar. I saw him at Belmont once.’ He had that presence and power. So that second incarnation became a third. The ambassador patiently waiting for a shutter to click, regal and handsome and keenly aware of who he was. Running down to his corner, to rear up to almost vertical and maybe have a roll right there, next to where he rests right now. Every great horse I’ve ever known has been aware of who they are. That presence, that knowledge of self, led him to be great. He had it. He was gentle with kids, he was just a real presence and you knew you were in the presence of greatness when you were with him. It is our honor and privilege to have walked in your light. Mostly though, we thank Cigar…for showing us class and greatness embodied in a magnificent Thoroughbred.”
Lanter started working with horses in high school when Reed got him a job walking horses for this father, Herbert Reed. When Lanter graduated, he starting working at the Horse Park for the first time in 1983. He went to work at Spendthrift Farm in 1985.
He joined Three Chimneys in 1991 as stallion manager and later went on to work as stallion manager for Overbrook Farm until 2009 when he returned to the Horse Park.
To read more on Lanter’s career in his obituary at horseracingnation.com, click here.