Bobby Zen

What started out as one of racing’s best feel-good stories in years ended in tragedy Wednesday at Oaklawn when the fleet Iowa-bred Tyler’s Tribe (Sharp Azteca) died following a four-furlong workout.

Afterward, the track issued a press release in which it said that trainer Tim Martin’s entries for the final week of racing at Oaklawn were being scratched by the stewards.

“In the interest of all parties, Oaklawn must take these actions to properly investigate the matter,” the statement read. It also said that there would be an investigation regarding a horse named Collins (Into Mischief), but it was not clear what, if anything, that had to do with Tyler’s Tribe or what happened to that horse. Equibase lists the trainer of Collins as Rey Hernandez and he worked out Thursday, a day after Tyler’s Tribe.

Tyler’s Tribe was named after co-owner Tom Lepic’s grandson, Tyler Juhl of Iowa City, Iowa, who was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of cancer found in children. Lepic hoped that the horse’s exploits could lift the spirits of his grandson. Tyler’s Tribe more than did his part. Racing exclusively at Prairie Meadows, he won his first five starts by a combined margin of 59 3/4 lengths. He had done enough that he had earned his way into the 2022 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, but bled severely in that race and had to be eased.

He was never again the same. He ran four more times, failing to win, and bled in both of what would be his last two starts, the Bachelor S. and an Oaklawn allowance race.

Lepic said Thursday that Tyler’s Tribe did not bleed in the workout, but the cause of death remained a mystery.

“All I know is that he had just finished his workout and he died on the track,” Lepic said. “(Co-owner and trainer) Tim (Martin) said he had worked great and had a good gallop out. Tim said he was shocked by what happened. All of us, we are completely devastated. This horse meant so much to us.

“There are people who are going to say we never should have run him again. Tim said he did whatever the vets told him to do. We followed every guideline and even gave him a year off. We were told that he was fine and that he wouldn’t bleed again. We loved this horse and never would have done anything to hurt him.”

Lepic is hoping that a necropsy will provide some answers.

“We don’t know what the cause of death was and have asked for a necropsy,” Lepic said. “We are very eager to find out.”

Lepic said he spent part of Thursday looking at photos of Tyler’s Tribe with his daughter, who is Tyler’s mother.

“We are devastated and so is everyone in our family and people who are close to us. I spent part of my day reminiscing and looking at photos of the horse with my daughter,” he said.

Tyler’s Tribe was 5-for-10 in his career and earned $327,661. He was purchased at the Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Fall Mixed Sale 2021 for $34,000.

The post Blue-Collar Hero Tyler’s Tribe Dies Following Workout Wednesday at Oaklawn; Trainer Temporarily Banned appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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