Carl Hanford, the trainer of five-time Horse of the Year (1960-64) Kelso who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2006, died at his Delaware home Aug. 14 at the age of 95.
A native of Fairbury, Neb., Hanford was one of seven brothers and three sisters. His oldest brother, Buddy, was the contract rider for trainer Preston Burch in 1933 when he died from head injuries suffered during a training accident. Three weeks later, another brother, Ira “Babe” Hanford, rode in his first Kentucky Derby and in 1936 he won the classic.
Carl Hanford also went East and rode the winner of the first race ever run at Suffolk Downs on July 10, 1935. After his riding days were over, Hanford turned his attention to training, which was interrupted by World War II when he served five years in the Army Remount Corps. Hanford, who counted Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney, among his clients, had a career-changing event in 1960 when he became the private trainer for Allaire du Pont, who raced under the name Bohemia Stable.
Among the horses Hanford began working with at Bohemia was a gelding named Kelso. Hanford guided Kelso to 38 of his 39 victories and all 31 of his stakes wins, including five consecutive renewals of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. When he retired in 1966, Kelso was racing’s all-time leading money earner with a bankroll of $1,977,896.
“It’s a great honor, but Kelso is the one who put me there,” Hanford told The Blood-Horse of his Hall of Fame induction. See related story.
After his training career, Hanford worked as a steward at numerous tracks, including Atlantic City, Garden State, Ak-Sar-Ben, Keystone (now Parx), Shenandoah Downs, and Delaware Park before he retired in 1988. He spent his retirement years helping his daughter Gail Hanford with her stable of horses at Delaware Park. His wife of 48 years, Millie, died in 2005.
Hanford was inducted into the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame in 1968; the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame in 1999; and the Delaware Park Wall of Fame in 2009.
Funeral arrangements are pending.