Hilmer Schmidt, Leader in Florida, Dies

Hilmer and Faye Schmidt are members of the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Hilmer C. Schmidt, a leading figure in the Florida racing and breeding industry for years, died May 26 at his Brenham, Texas, home following a lengthy illness. He was 85.

Schmidt was a founder and a former secretary/treasurer of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. and a past president of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association when the organization was known as the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders Association. The Texas native owned divisions of Indian Hill Farm near Ocala, Fla., and near Brenham.

Schmidt was the breeder of about 15 stakes winners, including five in partnership with fellow Florida industry leader Norman E. Casse. Schmidt raced about a half-dozen stakes winners, the best of which was Golden Bri. Schmidt bought Golden Bri for $19,000 at the 1993 OBS August yearling sale.

Golden Bri was a leading 3-year-old filly of 1995.  She beat subsequent divisional champion Serena’s Song in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) and finished second to her in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) and third to her in the Gazelle Handicap (gr. I). Golden Bri retired with earnings of $516,282.

Schmidt achieved additional success that year with stakes-winning homebreds Cat On Tour and Angle of Pursuit. The former won two stakes at Calder Race Course, including the What a Pleasure Stakes (gr. III), and the former captured the Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct.

Schmidt played a major role in planning the mating that produced 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away. He suggested three stallions as possible mates for Anna Marie Barnhart’s broodmare Ingot Way. Barnhart chose Skip Trial, and Skip Away was the resulting foal. Skip Away was raised at Indian Hill.

Racing for Carolyn Hine and trained by her husband, Sonny Hine, Skip Away earned four Eclipse Awards. He is a member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Skip Away died May 14 of an apparent heart attack at age 17. 

Schmidt, a Navy veteran of World War II, owned North Side Banana Company, a Texas wholesale produce firm that he founded in 1958. He started in racing in Texas in the mid-1960s and moved to Florida in 1969. Schmidt and his wife, Faye, returned to Texas in 1994.

Faye Schmidt, who died in July 2009, several months after the couple celebrated their 50th anniversary, played a key role in racing in Florida and in Texas. During the Ocala Breeders Sales Co.’s early years, she kept track of the company’s financial records. She also served as president of the Florida Thorobred Fillies, which raised money for various charities. Following the Schmidts’ move to Texas, Faye Schmidt founded the Texas Racing Fillies, another charitable group.

The Schmidts were inducted in the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2006. The previous year, they were honored by the Texas Thoroughbred Association with the T.I. “Pops” Harkins Award for lifetime achievements.

Schmidt’s survivors include four children.