Ken Lennox, former racing director at Monmouth Park, died Dec. 18 at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, N.J. He was 88.
"Kenny was the driving force behind racing here," said Bob Kulina, Monmouth vice president and general manager who started working at the facility under Lennox as a 22-year-old in1972.
"He taught us how to maintain tradition, the quality of racing, and how to go about doing it. He made you want to win, he gave you the chance to win and do a good show, and he just taught you. He allowed you to make mistakes, and he'd show you your mistakes."
Lennox first became involved in the Thoroughbred industry by walking hots at age 15 in his native Massachusetts. A 45-year Monmouth veteran, he worked his way up the ranks from groom to paddock judge, placing judge, steward, racing secretary, and finally director of racing. He retired from his role in 1986.
He was brought to New Jersey by John MacDonald Engineering, which was affiliated with the construction of Monmouth. Remaining with the facility, Lennox bought a home in Oceanport, N.J., where he lived for more than 40 years.
Lennox managed the racing department at a time when Monmouth attracted such prominent horses as Buckpasser, Foolish Pleasure, Alydar, Ruffian, and Spectacular Bid. He mentored many influential horseracing executives, among them Lou Raffetto Jr., former president and chief executive officer of the Maryland Jockey Club; and Kenny Noe, former New York Racing Association president.
"What drove us to get a better product was what we learned from Kenny," Kulina said. "Personally, whenever I do something here, I think, 'well I've gotta make Lennox proud. I can't let him down.'"
Visitation is scheduled for Dec. 20 from 6-9 p.m. EST at Woolley Funeral Home, 10 Morrell Street at Broadway, in Long Branch. Graveside funeral services will be Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. at Woodbine Cemetery in Oceanport.
Flowers or donations may be made to St. Barnabas Hospice and Palliative Care Center at Monmouth Medical Center, 300 Second Ave., Long Branch, N.J. 07740.