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Monday, December 4
Antley's death investigated as homicide



PASADENA, Calif. -- Chris Antley, whose struggles with weight, drugs and alcohol dogged a riding career that included victory in the 1999 Kentucky Derby aboard Charismatic, was found dead at his home in an apparent homicide.

Chris Antley
Chris Antley (6) won the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness aboard Charismatic.

Police said Sunday that the 34-year-old jockey was pronounced dead at the scene with "severe trauma to the head." An autopsy was scheduled Tuesday.

"We do not believe that this was a random act, and so the detectives are looking into all possible suspects," police Cmdr. Mary Schander said.

Police arrested a man on Sunday on three outstanding drug warrants, and said he was an associate of Antley's.

Timothy Wyman Tyler Jr., 24, of Dana Point, was being held in lieu of $45,000 bail on warrants involving drugs and driving under the influence, police said.

Jim Herzfeld, Antley's next-door neighbor, said Tyler Jr. had been a frequent visitor to Antley's house.

Antley was found by a family member and a female friend late Saturday night, police said. A 911 call made about 11 p.m. described a man who was "lying inside the house, who may possibly be dead," police said.

Paramedics told police the circumstances appeared suspicious.

Another neighbor, Jerry Holt, said he was awakened late Saturday night by a car on the cul-de-sac street.

"I heard a screaming car leave the premises," he said.

CHRIS ANTLEY 1966-2000
1966
Born on Jan. 6 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
1982
Rides in Elloree Trials and also rides quarter horse at small South Carolina tracks.
1983
First official ride, June 1 at Pimlico.

Rides his first winner (Vaya Con Dinero) on June 12 at Pimlico.

1984
Wins Monmouth Park riding titles with a record 171 victories.
1985
Leads the nation in victories (469; 39 in stakes).

Wins Monmouth Park riding title.

Wins eight races in one day (5 at Monmouth; 3 at Garden State). 

1986
Wins Monmouth Park riding title.
1987
Begins riding in New York.

On Oct. 31, becomes the first rider to win nine races in a day (4 at Aqueduct; 5 at Meadowlands).

1988
Wins the Wood Memorial (Private Terms).

Voluntarily enters a drug treatment program in December.

1989
Wins at least one race for 64 consecutive racing days in New York.

Leading rider in New York (234 wins).

In September, loses his license due to substance abuse.

1990
License reinstated.

Wins the Woodward (Dispersal)

1991
Wins the Kentucky Derby (Strike the Gold).
1994
Begins riding in California.

Wins Santa Anita Handicap (Stuka).

1997
Stops riding due to weight problms.
1999
Returns to riding in March.

Wins the Kentucky Derby (Charismatic).

Wins the Preakness (Charismatic).

Undergoes knee surgery

2000
Resumes riding in February.

Rides in his last race March 19.

Takes off his mounts on March 22 due to weight problems.

Found dead in his home on Dec. 2.

Career statistics: 19,723 mounts, 3,480 victories, $92,261,894 earnings.

Gary Stevens, a fellow rider and longtime friend who spoke Sunday with Antley's wife, Natalie, said he had been told it appeared the jockey was struck in the back of the head.

"He seemed to have some fear that something like this was going to happen," said Stevens, who last spoke to Antley three weeks ago. "A lot of things he was saying were not making sense to me.

"I love Chris as a person and all I can say is that mentally he was just having a tough time. He had a lot of demons haunting him."

The female friend of Antley's had gone to the airport to pick up the jockey's brother, and when they returned there was no answer at the door, according to Ron Anderson, Antley's former agent. "There seems to have been some struggle at the house," he said.

Natalie Antley, who is eight months' pregnant with the couple's first child, was in New York at the time of his death, Stevens said. The Antleys met during the 1999 Triple Crown series and were married earlier this year.

The driveway of their home in a quiet, upscale neighborhood near the Rose Bowl was blocked with yellow police tape; a bouquet of pink and white roses rested against a black iron gate.

Detectives combed the front yard of Antley's house, going through papers in a Dumpster and examining a window to the right of the front door. Antley had been renovating the million-dollar home in recent months.

A moment of silence was observed and flags were lowered Sunday at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.

Antley's career was interrupted by frequent battles with weight, alcohol and drugs. He lost his New York jockey's license in 1988, when he tested positive for cocaine and marijuana.

After entering drug rehab, he came back to win his first Kentucky Derby aboard Strike the Gold in 1991, then won the Derby and Preakness with Charismatic in 1999.

Antley stopped riding in March because of his ballooning weight, which the 5-foot-3 rider had tried to fight over the years with diet pills, fad diets and self-induced vomiting.

He finished second in his final race at Santa Anita on March 19.

Last year, Antley made yet another successful comeback from struggles with weight and depression to ride Charismatic, a lightly regarded 3-year-old. They missed winning the Triple Crown when the horse finished third in the Belmont Stakes, then pulled up just past the finish line with a broken leg.

Antley jumped off and immediately held the colt's leg until veterinarians arrived.

"He instinctively came to the aid of the horse. It was a very heroic and admirable circumstance," said Bob Lewis, who, along with his wife, Beverly, owned Charismatic.

Lewis said Charismatic might not have been saved without Antley's quick intervention. The injury ended Charismatic's racing career, but the horse is at stud in Kentucky.

"We just thought so highly of Chris," Lewis said.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas paired Antley with Charismatic and called the jockey "a very, very talented rider."

"When I think of Chris, I remember that he found himself in the right place at the right time and on the right horse," Lukas said. "I'm so glad that he had that opportunity to once more feel that thrill in his lifetime of winning America's ultimate race."

Lukas said he was surprised that Antley, whom he described as "a very likable guy," didn't continue riding this year.

"He had some personal problems that, I'm sure, were disruptive in his life," Lukas said. "But it certainly seemed he was headed in the right direction."

Antley, a high school dropout from Elloree, S.C., began his career in New York, and was the nation's leading rider in 1985 with 469 wins. He was the first jockey to win nine races in a single day, accomplishing that on Oct. 31, 1987, with mounts at Aqueduct and the Meadowlands.

He moved to Southern California in the 1990s. He won 3,480 career races from 19,719 mounts, and his horses earned more than $92 million.

Before returning to riding in February 1999, Antley had gained 30 pounds over his riding weight of 117. He returned home to Columbia, S.C., where eventually he began running 25 miles daily and followed a diet that allowed him to resume his career.

"If somebody could get inside my body and be as happy as me now, they'd be the happiest person in the world," Antley said before last year's Belmont.

Antley had a passion for the stock market, even putting out his own Internet newsletter called "The Antman Report" that offered stock tips to friends and fans.

"People e-mail me and tell me how much money they made," Antley said last year. "I can see them laughing and being happy. I like people being happy."

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