With Pasadena police investigators apparently no closer to finding the killer of world-renowned jockey Chris Antley, about 100 friends and loved ones gathered Tuesday for a poignant memorial service at an Arcadia church in the shadow of the track where he rode his last race.
Brian Antley, who discovered his brother apparently beaten to death at the jockey's home late Saturday, spoke of Chris' humble youth in South Carolina, where he showed early signs of the determination that made him a winner.
Recalling one of the first races his brother won, Brian Antley said the vehicle of the future jockey's success was not a majestic thoroughbred, but an old bicycle.
"There were 10-speeds and a lot of good bicycles in that race, and all Chris had was what we would call a junkyard bike," his brother said during the memorial at the United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd. "He told everybody he was going to win, but everybody in town doubted him. He did win, but I just wish he would have won this battle as well."
As loved ones attended the services, Los Angeles County coroner's officials said they conducted an autopsy Tuesday morning but that it was inconclusive. Coroner's spokesman Scott Carrier said it may take six to eight weeks to conduct the necessary neuropathology and toxicology tests.
Police, meanwhile, continued their investigation and would not release details of a drug arrest at Antley's home in September.
District attorney's records say the incident occurred Sept. 28, when friends said Antley's wife could not reach him on the phone from New York and grew worried.
Antley, who suffered from depression and had problems with drugs and alcohol, had dropped out of racing early this year and rarely left his home, friends said.
Eventually, his wife became so concerned that she called police and asked them to check up on the two-time Kentucky Derby winner, the friends said.
According to law enforcement records and officials, officers arrived at Antley's plush home about 10 a.m. Sept. 28, and found him and a 24-year-old house guest named Timothy Tyler. The officers also found methamphetamine. Both men were arrested, but only Tyler was charged with a crime, the officials and records say.
No prosecution of Antley occurred, because of an "inadmissible search and seizure," the district attorney's records show. Tyler was charged with a misdemeanor relating to his probation from another case, officials said.
Tyler then skipped out on a court date and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was taken into custody on that warrant Sunday morning, hours after Antley's death, and was arraigned Monday. He is not a suspect in the murder investigation, police said.
The drug episode provides a glimpse into the last months of a life that seemed to fluctuate between fame and isolation.
Antley's career, in which he won 3,480 races and his horses earned $92 million, was frequently interrupted by drug problems, a battle with weight and long periods of depression. He rode sparingly early this year at Santa Anita and hadn't competed in a race since March.
But at the memorial service Tuesday, trainer Vladimir Cerin, one of Antley's closest friends, told stories of the jockey's generosity, including the famous incident in which he saved the horse Charismatic, who suffered a broken leg during the 1999 Belmont Stakes in New York.
Tears streamed down Antley's face as he hopped off the horse and protected the injured leg until an equine ambulance arrived, Cerin recalled.
'Chris wasn't crying because he lost the Triple Crown," Cerin said. "He was upset for the horse. He was worried about his friend."
Family members--including Antley's father, mother and stepmother--remained in South Carolina, where he is expected to be buried. Natalie Antley, who was married to the jockey in April, is in New York, where she works for ABC and is expected to deliver the couple's child in a few weeks.
Fellow jockey and best friend Gary Stevens read an e-mail he received from Natalie.
"It was at that time, when after chasing after him all summer, he was finally starting to believe that I was really serious, that I really loved him," the e-mail read. "When he got this, he finally broke down and admitted that he loved me too. It was our beginning. These words can't help Chris anymore, but maybe they can help all of us who are still here, trying to understand why this world can be so painful sometimes," the e-mail said.
Times staff writer Joe Mozingo and Times wire services contributed to this story.