Woodrow "Woody" Sedlacek, who survived a near-fatal fall to become a successful trainer, died July 19 in Ocala, Fla., after a bout with cancer. Sedlacek, who turned 85 on June 7, had been in retirement at his Maplewood Farm before a brief hospice stay.
Born in St. Francis Mission, S.D., Sedlacek began working with horses at age 13 and soon rode throughout the Midwest at various fairs. In 1937, he rode in Texas and was severely injured in a spill.
"He was in a coma for a long time and he recovered at one of his owners' house," said his son, Michael. "He had a plate in his head, and it was a miracle that he survived."
Sedlacek took out his trainer's license in New York in 1945 and saddled his first winner at Jamaica. He trained a dozen stakes winners, many of which were homebreds for the late breeder/owner Jacques Wimpfheimer. The best of the Wimpfheimer group was millionaire Bounding Basque, winner of a division of the 1983 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I), plus the 1985 Brooklyn Handicap (gr. I) and Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. I), in track-record-equaling time.
The other Wimpfheimer runners included such graded stakes winners as El Basco, Purple Mountain, Shy Dawn, and Champagne Charlie, who ran second to Secretariat in the Gotham (gr. II) and Bay Shore (gr. III) Stakes.
Sedlacek is survived by his wife, Sue, a retired trainer, and sons Gregory, Michael, and Roy, the last two of whom are trainers.