One of the familiar faces behind the scenes of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs has died, according TwinSpires.com.
John Asher, 62, vice president of racing communications for Churchill Downs, died Monday morning of an apparent heart attack while on vacation with his family, according to Wave3.com and the Courier Journal. News of Asher’s passing spread on social media Monday morning.
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Asher hosted each year’s Kentucky Derby draw at Churchill Downs and worked in the Thoroughbred industry for more than 30 years, according to his bio on ChurchillDowns.com. He joined Churchill Downs in 1997 and assumed a position as a vice president two years later.
“To say that racing has lost one of its giants with the passing of John Asher does not begin to capture the impact this man has had and will continue to have on the Churchill Downs family,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack, in a press release. “His passion for the Kentucky Derby, horse racing, his WKU Hilltoppers, great music, and above all else his loving family was genuine and infectious. Racing has lost an icon. I, and many others, have lost a kind and generous friend. We will miss John’s laugh, his unmistakable voice, and his unique storytelling. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife Dee, his daughters Heather, Erin and Emma and his grandsons, Cameron and Caden.”
The Western Kentucky University alumnus and Leitchfield native received multiple honors as a radio journalist at WHAS-AM and WAVE-AM in Louisville, including five Eclipse Awards for “Outstanding National Radio Coverage of Thoroughbred Racing.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from WKU and was honored by his school as its 2004 “Public Relations Practitioner of the Year.” He was also a past president of the WKU National Alumni Board of Directors.