Suzie O'Cain thought the phone call was just a reminder she had been invited to attend a Women's History Month reception at the governor's mansion in Albany, N.Y. honoring Pioneering Women of the Capital Region. O'Cain, who manages Highcliff Farm in Delanson, N.Y. with her husband Lynwood, was wrong. The caller told her she would be more than a spectator on March 12 and was one of the 17 women selected to be saluted for their career accomplishments.
"I was shocked. I said, 'I just do my work and I didn't think that anyone ever really noticed what I did, or I didn't realize that I had made a big difference,'" O'Cain said. "I was so honored, personally. But as a representative of the Thoroughbred industry I was happy our industry was there with such notable people. I really was. That was a big part of it."
Also recognized at the ceremony was Helene Smith of Albany, the sister of veteran Thoroughbred trainer Billy Turner, who developed 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Smith, the director of the Capital Region International Center, was honored for her work with immigrants.
The O'Cains have managed Highcliff, which is located in rural Schenectady County about 40 miles southwest of Saratoga Springs since 1989. Dr. C. Lynwood O'Cain is the resident veterinarian, while Suzie O'Cain handles the marketing, develops the advertising program, and promotes a dozen stallions at the farm, which has grown to be one of the largest in New York. She is an active member of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders' Inc. and is serving her fourth term on the organization's board of directors.
The event was sponsored by the New York State Division for Women of the Governor's Office, Capital Region Advisory Council. New York State Lt. Governor Mary Donohue presented the awards.