Lil E. Tee: ‘Famous horse with the York County hometown’
William Solomon, owner of Pin Oak Lane Farm in Shrewsbury Township, is seen with Deposit Ticket in 2004. Deposit Ticket’s offspring earned $1.4 million during the year. Pin Oak was the birthplace of 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee (see photo below). Background posts: Glen Rock hilltop farm: ‘You cannot stay stressed here for long’ and Wiki profiles eight with national status bearing Hanover roots and Hames made in Shrewsbury Township’s Hametown fueled early American horsepower and Two ornate mansions that Hanover Shoe built.
York County ranks third in the state behind Chester and Lancaster counties for the greatest number of racehorses, a Penn State researcher said a few years back.
“You don’t have a racetrack in the county,” the researcher said. “It’s a bedroom community for those who do.”
Bedroom community, yes.
But one of those horses who lived here and left will always have a York County birthplace in its biography.
That’s Lil E. Tee, 1992 Kentucky Derby winner, who was put down this week.
These excerpts from a York Daily Record/Sunday News/AP story (3/24/09) tell about this first Pennsylvania-bred horse to win the Derby:
This May 2, 1992, Associated Press photo shows jockey Pat Day after winning the Kentucky Derby on Lil E. Tee at Churchill Downs.
Lil E. Tee, who upset heavily favored Arazi to win the 1992 Kentucky Derby, has died. He was 20.
And that closes another chapter in William Solomon’s Pin Oak Lane Farm in Shrewsbury Township, less than two miles from the Maryland Line.
Lil E. Tee was born at Pin Oak, was nursed to health there after a rough start and was gone from the area after only about a month, his racing journey already beginning.
The story has played out thousands of times for Solomon through 37 years, though only a handful of his thoroughbreds go on to similar levels of fame and fortune – and those horses always hold a special place for him.
For example, the son of Albert the Great, who stands stud at Pin Oak, is favored to win the $6 million Dubai World Cup Saturday. His horses also have won the prestigious Little Brown Jug and the Hambletonian.
To many, Lil E. Tee will always be the famous horse with the York County hometown.
“It’s a chapter you always enjoy, to come in contact with a horse like that,” Solomon said. “I think those memories are imprinted in you.”
Lil E. Tee was euthanized at Old Frankfort Stud in Lexington, Ky., on March 18.
Farm owner Jim Plemmons said the horse fell ill last month following an operation to repair an obstructed bowel and struggled to recover.
“He was losing his equilibrium and we didn’t want him to suffer,” he said. “Up to that point he had been fabulous. He looked like he was 10 years old.”
The chestnut colt’s career nearly ended
before it began after Lil E. Tee underwent lifesaving stomach surgery as a yearling, dimming his racing prospects.
W. Cal Partee took a chance, purchasing the colt after he won his maiden race and sending him to trainer Lynn Whiting at Churchill Downs. Lil E. Tee thrived under Whiting, winning the Jim Beam Stakes and finishing second in the Arkansas Derby to earn a spot in the run for the roses.
“He just had that look about him,” Whiting said. “People thought because of his name that he was diminutive in stature. But he was a lot of horse. We thought he could be anything.”
Lil E. Tee spent his stud career at Old Frankfort Stud, where his progeny included Oak Tree Derby winner Mula Gula. Lil E. Tee remained active throughout his career, producing a live foal last month.
“He went on to be a pretty good horse, (but) he had a pretty lackluster stud career,” Solomon said. “He had some minimal success and then kind of disappeared into the sunset as a stallion.”