Duke Bonde, a Hall of Fame farrier who worked at California racetracks for nearly 50 years, died Dec. 5 of heart failure at his home in Modesto. He was 80.
Born and raised in Pleasanton, Bonde enlisted in the army the day after graduating from Amador High School. Discharged four years later, Bonde was inspired by his uncle, horseshoer Robert DePonte, to become a farrier.
Bonde took a six-month course in horseshoeing at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and began shoeing horses in 1952. Two years later, he began working strictly at racetracks and traveled all over the West Coast plying his trade.
Inducted into the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame at Churchill Downs in 2005, Bonde shod many star horses during his career, including the great stretch-runner Silky Sullivan. Bonde is also credited with helping many people get started as farriers, including his son Gary.
Bonde's career in racing also featured a stint as a member of the California Horse Racing Board, and a term as president of the International Journeymen's Horseshoers Union in the mid-1970s.
Bonde is survived by four sons: Gary, Jeff, Ron and David. Jeff Bonde is a prominent Northern California trainer.
Services are pending. For information, contact Graham-Hitch Mortuary in Pleasanton at: (925) 846-5624.