Longtime rider Wes Lanter, who worked with the likes of Seattle Slew and Storm Cat, died on December 16 in Okeechobee, Fla. At the age of 58.
Coach Eric Reed, a childhood friend, said that Lanter was hospitalized after a fall and is also battling congestive heart failure.
“When he fell, he couldn’t really exercise and move too well,” says Reed. “I left him at my place down there and when the storm (Ian) hit, he got very sick.”
Lanter started with Thoroughbreds after Reed took him to the ranch where his father trained horses when they were sophomores in high school. The following year, Lanter worked at the Kentucky Horse Park and was sold to a career in the industry.
After training horses after graduating from high school, Lanter was hired at the Kentucky Horse Park and worked his way there. While there, he handled horses like Funny Cide and John Henry. Lanter then moved to Spendthrift Ranch, where he eventually became a stallion manager. It was there that he took care of Seattle Slew. When the 1977 Triple Crown winner moved to the Three Chimneys, so did Lanter.
WT Young recruited Lanter to oversee Storm Cat at Overbrook Ranch and remained there until Storm Cat was retired in 2008. At that point, Lanter retired.
According to a 2014 Thoroughbred Daily News article, Lanter returned to Kentucky Horse Park in 2009 to manage its Championship Hall.
When asked to think about his favorite memory of Lanter, Reed said, “There are a lot of stories because, you know, we were childhood friends and were pretty much together for the rest of our lives. But the stories—will Ellis . Parkriding with my dad when we were at school, we would tell his mother he was going to sleep through the night and he would actually go see the races.”
Reed said he and Lanter regularly discussed his legacy during Lanter’s 11-week hospital stay. Lanter wants to be remembered by the horse community as a good horseman and how much he loves horses.
“The main thing he said was that he just wanted people to know he was a good person. He was nice to people and always ready to help people,” Reed said.
When a fire destroyed Reed’s Mercury Equestrian Center in 2016, it was Lanter who was one of the first to help him pick up the debris and rebuild.
“He’s a funny guy. But he’s brilliant,” Reed said. “He’s got the sharpest IQ ever (have ever seen) and I’d say everyone he works with will tell you he has a super memory. I think that’s the point. why he can advance so fast Besides riding as a stallion manager, when tourists, guests and people come, he will throw statistics out of his head . He knows everything about each of those sires.”
Lanter is survived by his son, Noah.
Reed says the plan is to have a birthday celebration in Lexington in the new year.