Trudy McCaffery, who in partnership raced such popular California stars as Bien Bien, Bienamado, Came Home, Free House, and Pacific Squall, died Feb. 12 at her home near Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 62. A memorial service will be held at Santa Anita Friday at 5:00 p.m.
McCaffery and her former racing partner, John Toffan, both born in Canada, made up one of the Golden State’s top breeding and racing outfits for years. Homebred Free House, McCaffery’s favorite horse, was California Horse of the Year in 1997-98. Free House won eight stakes, including the Pacific Classic Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap, and Santa Anita Derby, all grade I.
Free House took his act east in the spring of 1997. He distinguished himself by placing in all three Triple Crown events, topped by a rousing effort against Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Silver Charm in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Free House finished a head behind Silver Charm and was a head in front of Captain Bodgit. Six years earlier, McCaffery and Toffan had watched their Mane Minister finish third in all three classics.
So special was Free House to McCaffery that she made arrangements for her ashes to be spread at Vessels Stallion Farm near Bonsall, Calif., where Free House stood prior to his death in 2004. McCaffery earlier sprinkled some of her father’s ashes at Vessels. McCaffery’s father, Fritz Hanson, is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Bien Bien and his son, Bienamado, plus Came Home and Pacific Squall were also California grade I winners raced by McCaffery and Toffan together and/or in partnership with others. Bien Bien and Bienamado (a homebred) were turf stars, with seven grade I scores between them. Homebred Came Home was victorious in the grade I Pacific Classic, Santa Anita Derby, and the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. Pacific Squall scored her top triumph in the 1992 Hollywood Oaks (gr. I).
McCaffery, who loved golf and was good at it, played a big part in racing outside the owner’s box. She founded Kids to the Cup, which introduced youngsters to racing, and served on the board of directors of the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation. Named for the late Southern California trainer, the foundation raises money to help backstretch workers.
McCaffery also served on the board of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Oak Tree Racing Association, and Thoroughbred Owners of California.
“Her biggest thrill in racing came when she was named to the Oak Tree board,” said friend and trainer Jenine Sahadi, who is president of the Gregson Foundation. “It was her proudest moment, and she took it very seriously.
“She would come up here every weekend during the Oak Tree meeting, stay at my house, leave first thing in the morning, and then go down to the track. She would then get back to my place, get dressed, make-up just perfect, then go to her Oak Tree board meeting. Even though she was going through chemotherapy, she felt it was her duty to go and she’d present trophies and mingle. She brought people together and lived for that.”
McCaffery was represented as breeder by her first Breeders’ Cup winner in 2006. Round Pond, a filly she co-bred with Toffan, won the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
McCaffery also bred and/or raced in partnership such other graded stakes winners A. P. Assay, Areyoutalkintome, Bosque Redondo, Del Mar Dennis, Elaborate, Kumari Continent, Ninebanks, Odyle, Snorter, and Visible Gold.
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, McCaffery is survived by her mother, Maxine, and three sisters. Her father died Feb. 14, 1996.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation, P.O. Box 660039, Arcadia, Calif. 91066-0039.