Veteran Trainer David Pate Dies at 70

Veteran Turfway Park trainer David Pate died Saturday, July 6 at University Hospital in Cincinnati after suffering a brain aneurysm.  He was 70.

A native of  Ashburn, Ga., Pate spent most of his life around horses. He grew up on his family's 36,000-acre Georgia horse farm, and then later worked as a jockey and a trainer starting in the early 1970s. 

According to Pate's bio on the Turfway web site, Pate left his family's farm at 19 and joined his older brother at Ocala Stud in Florida. At the time the now-thriving racing center was a fledgling operation. He started working as a hotwalker but had his eye on riding, and in 1968 at age 25 made his debut as a jockey.

His riding career was plagued by his difficulty to maintain his weight, and while it was short-lived, it was not time ill-spent as it guided him toward a training career.  "Once I started riding, I knew I wanted to train," he said.  "I learned something from every trainer I ever rode for."

Pate credited that time with giving him insight into what can happen to horses during a race.  "I'm not so quick to blame the jockey when things don't go right," he said.

Pate opened a small training stable at Tampa in 1972 and later moved to Latonia. He closed his stable after about six years and signed on as assistant trainer to Marvin Moncrief. The time with Moncrief's Maryland-based, 50-horse stable and the chance to make industry connections gave Pate the foundation he needed, and in 1988 he returned to Florida and opened a stable with about 25 horses. Looking for options to suit the varying talents in his barn, he moved to the Ohio/Kentucky circuits, where he was leading trainer at River Downs in his first meet and became a regular at Churchill Downs and Latonia, now Turfway. 

Pate selected horses and trained primarily for James Skaggs's Spade Stable, as well as training horses he bought for his wife, Peggy, whose horsemanship he believed equaled his own.  He considered his operation a family-run business and noted three of his employees had been with him for more than 20 years.
 
The trainer of 565 winners, Pate's horses earned nearly $5.7 million. Among his memorable horses are his first stakes winner, Lawful Beat, a $4,700 filly he later sold for $125,000. In all Pate trained eight stakes winners including Pola's Place, Cactus Cadillac, Lucky Chuck, and Deputy G, who won Churchill Downs' Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) in 2005.
 
Pate took a step back from training in early 2012. Though he stayed involved in the workings of the barn, his wife, Peggy became the stable's trainer of record.
 
Pate was honored as a Kentucky Colonel and a member of the Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association.
 
He was preceded in death by brothers Floyd and Loren and sisters Dorothy "Dot" Larson and Ida Pate. Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Peggy Pate; daughters Sonia Pate, Ida Dooley, Michelle Bryant, and Nicole Wood; sons Maxie and Travis; and brothers Steve, Bobby, and Ronnie. 
 
A visitation will be held July 11 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. EDT at Chambers & Grubbs Funeral Home in Independence, Ky. Services will take place on July 12 at 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home. 
 
Memorial donations may be sent to the family of David Pate c/o Chambers & Grubbs Funeral Home, 11382 Madison Pike, Independence, KY 41051.
 

 

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