Two-time Blue Grass Stakes-winning trainer Harvey L. Vanier dies

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Harvey L. Vanier, who saddled two winners of the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland during his long training career, died Dec. 1 in Versailles, Ky. He was 89.

Vanier sent out his first Keeneland winner during the 1951 fall meeting and won 143 races here through the 2006 fall season. He was the leading trainer during the 1987 spring meeting when he won seven races.

In 1983, Vanier sent out 19-1 longshot Play Fellow to win the Blue Grass. The colt raced for Vanier’s wife, Nancy, and partners Carl Lauer and Robert Victor.

Vanier won the race again in 1989 with even-money favorite Western Playboy, a son of Play Fellow bred in Illinois by the Vaniers. Nancy Vanier raced the colt with Raymond Roncari.

Vanier’s seven Keeneland stakes wins also include the 1979 Ben Ali (G3) with Kodiack; 1979 Fayette (G3) and 1980 Ben Ali with Architect; 1987 Keeneland Breeders Cup with Storm On the Loose and 1996 Alcibiades (G2) with Southern Playgirl.

The Vaniers owned Fairberry Farm in Waterloo, Ill., and Rightaway Farm in Woodford County, Ky.

Vanier’s survivors include Nancy; daughters Lyda (Brian) Vanier Williamson and Jenny (Frank) Vanier Allen; and grandsons Brian Harvey Williamson, Samuel Lewis Williamson, Will Lewis Allen and Luke Harvey Allen.

Vanier will be buried at Kolmer Memorial Cemetery in Waterloo. The visitation will be held at the Quernheim Funeral Home in Waterloo on Dec. 6 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. and on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. when the funeral begins. 

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