(Edited release from The National Sporting Library)
Peter Winants, a retired publisher and editor of The Chronicle of the Horse, died May 18 following a long illness. He was 82.
Born in Baltimore, Winants grew up immersed in Maryland’s sporting community. As a boy, he witnessed the match race at Pimlico Race Course between Seabiscuit and War Admiral in 1938. He foxhunted with the Elkridge-Harford Hunt in Baltimore County and rode in amateur steeplechase meets.
Winants attended Princeton University, where he befriended the late George L. Ohrstrom Jr., who later became the owner of The Chronicle of the Horse. He served in the Army during World War II and later during the Korean War when he trained as a paratrooper.
Winants freelanced for The Maryland Horse, covering events and photographing stallions at breeding farms for ads. He followed the remarkable steeplechase horse, Jay Trump, and his career with his camera as the rags-to-riches horse won the English Grand National and the Maryland Hunt Cup in 1965, a feat no other horse had accomplished. On the return from England, Winants wrote an article on Jay Trump that The Maryland Horse published, thus branching out into journalism. In 1966, he published his first book, Jay Trump: A Steeplechasing Saga.
In 1972, Winants was hired as editorial assistant at The Chronicle of the Horse, and in 1975, Ohrstrom named him publisher/editor. Winants updated the weekly equestrian publication, while still also writing, editing, and photographing. He published his second book through The Chronicle in 1988, Flatterer: A Story of a Steeplechase Champion. He traveled throughout the United States and Britain photographing and writing profiles of foxhunts for The Chronicle.
In 1991, Winants stepped down as publisher at The Chronicle, and was named director of The National Sporting Library. During his tenure, the library acquired two major collections, the John H. and Martha Daniels collection of 5,000 sporting books, and the von Hünersdorf collection of 16th to 19th century equestrian books. In the mid-1990s, plans were made and carried out to construct a new building to house the NSL’s growing collection. In 1998, he retired as director of the NSL. Winants served on the board of directors of the NSL from 1991-2005, then honorary director until his death.
Winants wrote freelance articles for The Blood-Horse, and he and brother, Garry, handled photographic coverage of the Triple Crown races for the magazine. Peter Winants wrote The Sporting Art of Franklin B. Voss (2005), which was published by Eclipse Press, a division of The Blood-Horse, Inc.
Winants published two other books: Steeplechasing: The Complete History of the Sport in North America (2000) and Foxhunting with Melvin Poe (2002).
At the Maryland Hunt Cup May 25, Winants received the prestigious S. Bryce Wing Award, named for Winants’ stepfather, for his extraordinary contributions to the sport of American steeplechasing.
“Peter was truly one of my heroes in life,” said NSL librarian Lisa Campbell. “He had a gracious and positive attitude toward everything he undertook to accomplish. He was a remarkable writer and photographer. He encouraged many people along the way, myself included. He will be greatly missed.”
Winants’ survivors include his wife of six years, Mary, and children Peter Jr., Jennifer, Bryce, and Garet. Memorial contributions may be made to the Piedmont Environmental Council, or a charitable organization of choice. Funeral services and burial will be private.