Allen Murray, the Maryland horse breeder who briefly stood Our Emblem, died yesterday at his farm in Darlington.  He was 80.

Murray, who operated Murmur Farm with his wife of 58 years, Audrey, hit the home run of which breeders dream when he purchased Our Emblem for $200,000 following the 2001 breeding season.  At that point, the then 10 year-old stallion had been deemed a washout in Kentucky.

But in mid-2002, his son War Emblem — a horse that hadn’t done much of note as a two year-old or in the first part of his three year-old campaign — caught fire at just the right moment.  War Emblem upset the Illinois Derby in fast time, then posted a 20-1 shocker in the Kentucky Derby before winning (as the tepid favorite) in the Preakness.

War Emblem’s Triple Crown dreams were dashed in the Belmont, a race in which he stumbled badly coming out of the gate, but not before helping to fulfill some of Murray’s dreams.  Prior to the Belmont, he sold Our Emblem to a Kentucky-based partnership of WinStar Farm and Taylor Made for $10 million — truly one of the great investments in racing history.

The Murrays currently stand three stallions, Cherokee’s Boy, Louis Quatorze, and Scipion.

Murray grew up in Havre de Grace, when that was still a racetrack town.  He and Audrey entered the racing business in 1959 with an $800 broodmare.

Murray is survived by his wife, three children, eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Maryland Horsemen’s Assistance Fund, 500 Redland Court, Suite 105, Owings Mills, MD  21117 or the Maryland Heart Association.

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