Longtime rider Wes Lanter, who worked with Seattle Slew and Storm Cat, died Dec. 16 in Okeechobee, Fla., at age 58.
Coach Eric Reed, a childhood friend, said Lanter was hospitalized following a fall and was also battling congestive heart failure.
“When he crashed, he got to where he couldn’t really exercise and move too well,” Reed said. “I let him stay at my house there and when Hurricane (Ian) came he was very sick.”
Lanter got his start with Thoroughbreds after Reed brought him to the farm where his father trained horses when they were sophomores in high school. The following year, Lanter worked at Kentucky Horse Park and was sold for a career in the industry.
After training horses after high school, Lanter was hired at Kentucky Horse Park and rose through the ranks there. While there, he handled horses such as Funny Cide and John Henry. Lanter then moved to Spendthrift Farm, where he eventually became the Stallion Manager. That’s where he took care of Seattle Slew. When the 1977 Triple Crown winner moved to Three Chimneys, Lanter did the same.
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WT Young recruited Lanter to oversee Storm Cat at Overbrook Farm and remained there until Storm Cat was retired in 2008. At that point, Lanter retired.
According to a 2014 Thoroughbred Daily News article, Lanter returned to Kentucky Horse Park in 2009 to manage its Hall of Champions.
When asked to reflect on his favorite memory of Lanter, Reed said, “There’s so many stories because, you know, we were childhood friends and we were pretty much together until the end. end. Ellis Parkracing horses with my dad when we were in school, we would tell his mom he was coming to a sleepover and he was actually going to the races.”
Reed said he and Lanter often discussed his legacy during Lanter’s 11-week hospitalization. Lanter wanted to be remembered as a good rider by the equestrian community and how much he loved horses.
“The main thing he said was he just wanted people to know he was a good person. And he was nice to everyone and he was always there to help,” Reed said. .
When a fire destroyed Reed’s Mercury Equine Center in 2016, it was Lanter who was among the first to come to help pick up the pieces and rebuild.
“He was a funny person. But he was brilliant,” Reed said. “He had the sharpest IQ ever (seen) and I would say anyone he worked for will tell you he had a photographic memory. I think that’s why he was able to rise through the ranks so quickly. equestrian as director of the stallions, when tourists and guests and people came, he would throw statistics right in the top of his head, he knew everything about each of these stallions.
Lanter is survived by his son, Noah.
Reed said the plan is to hold a celebration of life in Lexington in the New Year.