Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

"Unbridled Greed"

Death of a Champion

A replacement security guard named Alton Stone claimed he found Alydar lying in his stall with a broken back leg around 10:00 p.m. on November 13, 1990. The discovery came just three weeks after First City National Bank had notified Lundy that he had to make a $15 million loan payment — a payment Lundy had no way of making — or lose Calumet to foreclosure.

A second security guard on duty that night, Keed Highley, later disputed much of Stone's story and maintained that he had discovered the injured stallion, not Stone. Highley also said that right before he walked into the barn that housed Alydar's stall, he saw Stone leaving.

Stone also claimed that he had worked that night because the regular guard, Harold 'Cowboy' Kipp, had asked him to fill in for him while Kipp took an unscheduled night off. Kipp later told FBI agents that wasn't true. He said he hadn't asked Stone to cover for him. He also said he had not requested to take the night off but had been told to take the night off by a man who worked for Lundy, although Kipp said he did not know the man's name or what he did at Calumet Farm.

Regardless of who discovered Alydar lying injured on his stall floor, Stone called Lundy to the barn. Soon Lundy was joined by veterinarians and insurance adjusters.

Tom Dixon was one of the adjusters. "We had a bad, bad injury on our hands," Dixon said, "but we're standing there looking at the world's leading stallion, and we're thinking what can we do to save this horse. How bad is it?"

Dr. Larry Bramlage examines a patient
Dr. Larry Bramlage examines a patient

Alydar's heavy stall door had been knocked off its track and two of the bolts holding down a bracket that fastened the track to the barn's concrete floor had been sheared off. Lundy speculated that Alydar, who he claimed had a temper and often kicked his stall door, must have been kicking the door and gotten his hoof hung up, then broken his leg trying to pull it free.

Later, investigators noted that there were no indications on the stall door that Alydar had been a "kicker."

Dr. Larry Bramlage, one of the world's leading horse surgeons, moved Alydar into Calumet's state-of-the-art veterinary clinic and operated on the former racing champion's severely injured hind leg. He repaired and set the broken bone, screwing in metal plates and tapping in pins. Then he put a fiberglass cast on Alydar's leg.

At first, the prognosis was good.

"Everything went great," Bramlage said. "He started eating. Everybody's spirits got really high."

Hours later, though, Alydar fell again. The fall snapped his thigh. This time the injury couldn't be fixed. After consulting with Dixon and Bramlage, Lundy ordered that Alydar be put down. Bramlage gave him an overdose of anesthesia.

Alydar was dead.

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