--Kathy Parker, The Horsemen and Fair World
MANALAPAN, NJ -- June 13, 2016 -- Leo C. McNamara III, a third generation horseman and executive administrator of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) for the past 15 years, died early Sunday morning, June 12. Mr. McNamara died of complications following a hard fought battle with cancer, just two weeks short of his 61st birthday.
Born June 30, 1955, in Carmel, Ind., Mr. McNamara was the son of Leo McNamara Jr., whose father, Leo, founded Two Gaits Farm in Indiana, where Adios was foaled and the pacing stallion Hal Dale stood at stud.
Leo C. McNamara was also a founder of the U.S. Trotting Association, the Hall of Fame of the Trotter in Goshen, N.Y., and at one time an owner of The Red Mile.
The McNamara family moved east in the late 1950s and Mr. McNamara III spent some time as a youngster at Hanover Shoe Farms, where his father served as farm superintendent. The McNamara family returned to Carmel before selling the family farm and moving east again when Leo McNamara Jr. joined Pine Hollow Stud Farm in New York.
While living in Pine Bush, N.Y., Mr. McNamara III began working on the Pine Hollow Stud Farm. After graduating from high school in 1973, he continued on at Pine Hollow Stud Farm, becoming an assistant manager.
Mr. McNamara III moved to Kentucky's Bluegrass horse country and worked at Dan Hollibaugh's Holly Lane Stud in Lexington, serving as manager there from 1981-1985. Mr. McNamara's next stop was Almahurst, where he served as farm superintendent of the breeding nursery's flagship farm outside of Lexington during the era when it was one of the sport's showcase operations.
Mr. McNamara III left Almahurst in 1988 to run the new Dreamaire Farm nursery in New Jersey founded by Bob Boni and partners. Boni knew Mr.
McNamara III from their days together at Pine Hollow Farm.
Leo's family moved to New York in 1973 when I was the yearling manager at Pine Hollow Stud Farm and as a high school senior he became my weekend and then summer help, said Boni. We forged a great friendship over the next 40-something years, regardless of where our travels took us, and he will forever be one of the most special people I have ever known.
Leo was a great advocate for the horsemen and horsewomen of New Jersey in so many ways and always with the fairness and decency that characterized his personality. He loved and adored his wife Cathy and his daughter Celeste and he will be missed by anyone fortunate to have known him.
After Dreamaire closed its operations, Mr. McNamara III re-established Two Gaits Farm in New Jersey and bred and boarded horses. In 2001 Mr.
McNamara III began working for the SBOANJ, becoming executive administrator in 2006.
During his years with the SBOANJ, Mr. McNamara III worked with racetracks in the Garden State to keep tabs on the purse accounts, becoming an astute expert of analyzing handle from various sources with various percentages going to purses.
I've been a director of the SBOA for 10 years, and Leo was invaluable, said Mark Ford, president of the SBOANJ. I don't think the horsepeople in New Jersey can realize how invaluable he was advocating for horsemen and horsewomen and protecting our interests. He always brought knowledge and commonsense to the table and could always come up with a commonsense approach or solution.
Because of Mr. McNamara's knowledge of the purse account and percentages of handle earned, he played a significant role in Jeff Gural's acquisition of the Meadowlands from the state of New Jersey.
Leo was a straight shooter and a great guy to work with, said Jason Settlemoir, CEO and general manager of the Meadowlands Racetrack. He's going to be missed from both an industry standpoint and as a friend.
Mr. McNamara III is survived by his wife, Cathy; a daughter, Celeste, assistant professor of history at University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom; two stepchildren, Dr. Daniel J. Dooley and Katie Pidge Decker; his mother, Irene; one brother, Joe (Meg Booth); eight sisters, Anne Slosky, Coleen (Frank) Benedett, Bridget (Jeffrey) Fenessy, Kate
(David) Smith, Mary Coleman, Kelly (Patrick) Kennedy, Celeste (Brian) O'Neill and Jane (Glenn) Taylor; 14 nieces and nephews; and more than
Visitation will be held Thursday, June 16, from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. at Peppler Funeral Home, 122 Crosswicks St, Bordentown, N.J., 08505. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Mary's Church, 45 Crosswicks St., in Bordentown.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, 16575 Carey Rd., Westfield, IN 46074.