Martha Gerry, who campaigned three-time Horse of the Year and Hall of Fame member Forego, died Sept. 17 following heart surgery in New York. She was 88.
Gerry, who was chairman emeritus of the board of trustees of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, was just honored in August as an Exemplar of Racing at the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She was the first woman to be named an Exemplar and the first person since C.V. Whitney in 1991. The others are George D. Widener, Walter M. Jeffords, John W. Hanes, and Paul Mellon.
Homebred Forego was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 by virtue of his three Horse of the Year titles and several other championships. The gelded son of Forli earned a reputation as one of the racing's all-time great weight careers while winning 34 races and some of racing's greatest prizes in the Lazy F Ranch silks. During Forego's racing career, Gerry was recognized by the New York Turf Writers as the woman who did the most for racing in 1974.
Gerry, whose nephew, William S. Farish, owns Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky., was one of the first three women, along with Penny Chenery and Allaire du Pont, to be elected to The Jockey Club. Gerry also was a member of the board of trustees of the New York Racing Association.
Gerry's father, William Stamps Farish, co-founded Humble Oil and Refining (Exxon) and was chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey. He built Lazy F Ranch in Texas and started a small racing stable.
Following his death in 1942, Gerry and her mother, Libbie, started racing in the Lazy F name. Their first stakes winner, Cocopet, won four stakes at 2 and 3. Their initial big winner, Plucky Maud, won the 1944 Delaware Oaks and 1945 New Castle Handicap.
"I started breeding our mares, and they were good producers, so I was hooked," Gerry told The Blood-Horse earlier this year.
Although Forego was by far the best of the Lazy F runners, there were plenty of other good ones. Treacherous won the Black Helen and Columbiana Handicaps and a division of the Test Stakes in the 1960s. Nine Keys, bred in partnership with the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm, captured several graded stakes for Lazy F, including the 1994 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I). Auntie Mame also was a multiple graded stakes winner for Lazy F, her chief win coming in the 1998 Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap (gr. I).
Gerry and William S. Farish bred and/or raced several stakes winners together. They were the breeders of California grade I winner Swiss Yodeler,who developed into a successful stallion in the Golden State. This year, their English Colony won two stakes at Belmont Park.
But it was Forego who really captured Gerry's heart. "It was amazing what Forego was able to accomplish," she said. "All through his career he had sesamoid problems and other maladies. Frank (trainer Whiteley) said he had the worst legs he'd ever seen on a horse."
Forego died at age 27 in 1997.
Gerry, who lived on Long Island, N.Y., is survived by a son, William, and daughters Cornelia, Martha, and Libby.