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Update: Richard ‘Dick’ Macomber Passes

Published: September 14, 2015 10:17 pm ET

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Richard ‘Dick’ Macomber, 80, passed away on Monday, September 14, at the home of his son and daughter-in-law, Ricky Macomber Jr. and Jamie Rucker, who race at Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind.

Macomber had been diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, early this summer.

Macomber was adopted as a young child and raised in Maine, but at age 15 decided to leave home to create a new life for himself. He ended up in California and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952-56 before he started working with horses on a full-time basis and became an assistant to Forrest Gerry.

In the 1960s, Macomber took his colours, which he had adapted from Gerry’s, and moved to western New York, where he raced at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs. That was also where he met the Hauck family and his future wife, Carol. Their first child, Ricky, was born in Buffalo in 1970.

Macomber’s first top horse was the stakes-winning trotter Nevele Impulse, a 10-time winner at age three in 1980 and the winner of the Yonkers Trot that year. Then came Trim The Tree p,2, 1:53.3 ($528,098), who set a world record in Grand Circuit action at the Red Mile in the fall of 1982. The colt by High Ideal won three heats in Lexington, which came two weeks after he had captured the Kentucky Pacing Derby at Louisville Downs.

At age three Trim The Tree began his season by winning the $300,000 Shelly Goudreau Memorial Championship at Los Alamitos, with his winning time of 1:55.2 the fastest ever at ‘Los Al.’ He was shipped east and won the Windy City Pace at Maywood Park in May, but suffered an injury and the Chicago race was the last victory of his abbreviated 10-start season. He was syndicated and retired to stud at Almahurst Farm in Kentucky.

While Trim The Tree’s sophomore season was cut short, Macomber had another major stakes winner in the pacing filly Milynn Hanover p,3, 1:53 ($488,269). Owned by Ed Gold and Joe and JoAnn Thomson, Milynn Hanover won 13 of 17 starts as a two-year-old in 1982 and seven of 10 starts at age three.

Macomber had begun winter training in Florida, basing his stable at Pompano Park before heading north to New York in the spring. Eventually the Macombers established a permanent home in Florida, with Macomber joining his father-in-law Ed Hauck and brother-in-law, Eddie, in a restaurant chain they named Wings N Things. After he finished training horses in the morning, he often went to one of the four restaurants and helped out during lunch hours.

Macomber continued to train horses in Florida every winter, including this past winter, when he had 12 training starts at Pompano Park. The last horse he trained by Thirtyeight Special.

Once his son established Hoosier Park as a base in 1997, Macomber travelled north every summer to work with and follow the career of his son, and in recent years, spend time with his grandchildren. This year when he got settled at his son’s home in Indiana in May, Macomber was having difficulties walking and after being examined by a neurologist he was diagnosed with ALS.

“He got weaker throughout the summer, but he loved being here and seeing the grandchildren,” said Jamie Rucker.

In addition to son Ricky and daughter-in-law Jamie, Macomber is survived by his wife, Carol; daughters Kelly (Steve) and Kim; and grandchildren Nate, Aubrey, Taylor, Blake and Sarah.

The family will celebrate Macomber's life on Sunday, September 20, starting at 1 p.m. and throughout the day at 2538 East 550 South, Anderson, Ind. 46017

Please join Standardbred Canada in sharing condolences to the family and friends of Dick Macomber.

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