Veteran trainer Danny Miller passed away last week while awaiting a heart transplant at a Chicago-area medical center. He was 61.
Miller, who had been battling cardiac problems for years and wore a pacemaker, continued to train into late September at Arlington International before his final hospitalization.
“He was a good horseman and a very good man,” said championship owner Frank Calabrese, who utilized Miller's services in recent years. “There was no [frivolousness] about him.”
Miller's wife Patti – who trained under her maiden name of Patti Bahnick prior to their marriage in 1980 – has assumed command of the family stable. She won the fourth race at Hawthorne on Saturday with the maiden turf claimer Silentconformation for owner Craig Glander.
A native of Casey in southern Illinois, Danny Miller learned the elementals of Thoroughbred training under his father, W.O. Miller, on the fair circuit. He was then mentored by Francis Ball of Casey Thoroughbred Farm, who gave Miller his first exposure to the rhythms of a race track.
Miller went to work as an assistant for Bernie Flint in 1979 and staked out on his own in 1983.
Subsequently, he won 458 races and close to $9 million in purses for an assortment of owners ranging from Calabrese (most notably with Romacocca) to the late Dr. Francis DeRosa and family (Faccia Bella) to Paul Loeber (Lemon Grass) and the Glander family (Exchanging Kisses).
Besides his wife, Miller is survived by son Blake, mother Geraldine, and sister-in-law Jan Ely, the long-time Midwest-based trainer. Barb Poprawski, another sister-in-law, is one of the official morning clockers at Arlington and Hawthorne. Geraldine Miller, who is 91 years old, was by his side and held his hand when he died.
A low-key communal service for friends and colleagues is being planned for later this autumn.
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