Ewell Rice, one of the last of the Calumet employees during the farm's glory days of the 1940s and '50s for the Wright family, died unexpectedly Dec. 15 in Lexington. A Navy veteran during World War II, he was 78.
Rice had a hand in the great Calumet runners after starting as an exercise rider in the early 1940s and working his way up to yearling manager. He galloped such stars as 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation.
Like everyone in racing, Rice had his favorites. "He was awfully fond of Alydar," Rice's son, Jeff, said about his dad's attachment to the homebred grade I winner. "Dad thought he was awfully smart."
Rice, who became farm manager, was the 1981 Kentucky Farm Manager of the Year. He later left Calumet and went to work at the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., where he stayed 10 years. Rice retired from the horse business in 1995.
Rice's death came several months after the passing of longtime Calumet secretary Margaret Glass. Glass, a 42-year veteran, died in August.
In addition to Jeff, Rice's survivors include his wife, Florence, and sons Donald, Gary, Paul, and Richard.