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Merv Griffin

Merv Griffin

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Merv Griffin, the popular entertainer who owned Stevie Wonderboy, the champion 2-year-old male of 2005, died in Los Angeles on Sunday from prostate cancer, his family announced. Griffin was 82. He had been hospitalized for the last month.

The winner of 15 Emmy Awards, Griffin was a success in several aspects of the entertainment world as a singer in the 1950s, when he recorded the No. 1 hit "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts"; as the host of the Merv Griffin Show from 1965-86; and as the producer of the game shows "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!".

He was also successful in business as a land developer in La Quinta, Calif., and as the owner of Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Born in San Mateo, Calif., Griffin first went to Bay Meadows racetrack as a child, and later recalled watching Seabiscuit run.

As a racehorse owner, Griffin campaigned such stakes winners as Cee's Irish, Cobalt Blue, Skipaslew, and The Griff. Cobalt Blue was a candidate for the Kentucky Derby this year until he was removed from consideration a few days before the race.

Stevie Wonderboy was Griffin's most successful horse. The colt's biggest win came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park in 2005.

Stevie Wonderboy made one subsequent start at 3, but missed the 2006 Triple Crown because of injury. A crestfallen Griffin called the injury "the saddest thing in my life" when it was announced in February 2006. A winner of 3 of 6 starts and $1,058,940, Stevie Wonderboy was retired earlier this year and will stand at stud in Kentucky next year.

Griffin is survived by a son, Tony, daughter-in-law Tricia and two grandchildren.

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