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John Asher, the longtime vice president of Racing Communications at Churchill Downs has died at the age of 62.

Asher’s brother, Tim, told the Courier Journal that he died early Monday of an apparent heart attack while on vacation with his family in Orlando, Florida.

John Asher joined Churchill Downs in 1997 and had been vice president of Racing Communications since 1999.

Prior to that he was an award-winning radio journalist at WHAS and WAVE.

“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 written statement.

“His passion for the Kentucky Derby, horseracing, 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.”

University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino paid tribute prior to his weekly news conference Monday afternoon.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with John Asher’s family,” Petrino said. “Obviously, everybody here knows him. A great guy, great man. He’ll be really missed.”

Asher is survived by his wife, Dee, three daughters and two grandchildren.

This story has been updated.