Morton Fink, who bred and owned two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, died Nov. 20 at age 89.
Fink, a native of Chicago, first became involved in Thoroughbred ownership in the 1970s, campaigning claimers with friends. As his interests deepened, he eventually began breeding horses under the name Carelaine Farm, in partnership with Roy Gottlieb. The most successful horses to emerge from that venture included Group 1 winner Producer and multiple graded stakes winner Annoconnor.
In 1995, Fink purchased a Wolf Power filly for $29,000 as a yearling and named her for his granddaughter. Lisa Danielle, an Illinois-bred, won just once from seven starts, but went on to become a phenomenally successful broodmare. She produced eight winners from nine starters, with the best of those being Wise Dan. He was produced by pairing the mare with the stallion Wiseman’s Ferry, a multiple graded stakes winner who Fink campaigned in partnership with Swifty Farms and Dell Ridge.
Wise Dan earned Eclipse Awards as Horse of the Year, outstanding grass horse, and outstanding older horse in both 2012 and 2013, winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile in each year. He won 11 Grade 1 races in total, and retired with 23 wins from 31 starts and earnings of more than $7.5 million.
Lisa Danielle also produced multiple Grade 2 winner Successful Dan, who was multiple Grade 1-placed and earned just shy of $1 million; Grade 2 placed Enchanting Lisa; and stakes winner Our Royal Dancer.
Fink, who also campaigned multiple graded stakes winner and millionaire Guided Tour, made his living as an entrepreneur with varied interests in entertainment. He built Kiddytown Amusement Park, which opened in 1953 in Illinois, and also built several movie theaters in the state. He eventually sold his movie theater business to a national chain.
Fink is survived by his wife of 51 years, Elaine, three children, and a number of grandchildren, in addition to other family members. Services are scheduled for Monday in Arlington Heights, Ill.