Tom Metzen Sr.

Tom Metzen Sr.

Courtesy National HBPA

Horsemen's Advocate Metzen Dies at 78

He was National HBPA first vice president, Minnesota HBPA president.

Tom Metzen Sr., a tireless worker for horsemen in Arizona, Minnesota, and across the country, died Aug. 10. He was 78.

Metzen, who always maintained a full schedule, was first vice president and Central Region vice president for the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, president of the Minnesota HBPA, and executive director of the Arizona HBPA.

"The entire horseracing industry has lost one of its biggest fans and one of its most vocal advocates," National HBPA chief executive officer Eric Hamelback said. "To know Tom was to know his heart and thus his passion for the horse and his love of our industry.

"His tireless efforts toward promoting racing, advocating for horsemen, and supporting backside programs will be sorely missed and may likely never be matched. I am honored to have known Tom and even more proud to have worked alongside him."

Metzen was a member of the Canterbury Hall of Fame, and he enjoyed success Canterbury Park as an owner along with his wife, Karen. There of their horses won local Horse of the Year titles: Shot of Gold, Prime Step, and Chisholm.

Metzen was instrumental in the launch of the Claiming Crown in 1999 at Canterbury and worked with track management in subsequent years to continue hosting the event. At one time he was chairman of the Minnesota Racing Commission and president of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association.

"We owe Tom a great debt of gratitude, as his contributions to making Canterbury Park and the Minnesota horseracing industry what they are today are unmatched," Canterbury president and CEO Randy Sampson said. "I am personally grateful for the friendship and partnership I have been fortunate to share with Tom for the past 25-plus years. We didn't always agree, but one thing we did always agree on is that we can accomplish a lot more when the track and horsemen work together.

"With Tom's leadership of the HBPA, Canterbury Park and our horsemen became the model for how to work together to achieve success."

Metzen in 2007 received the National HBPA's National Industry Service Award, which recognizes dedication, service, and leadership to the horse racing industry.

"Tom was my mentor and my good friend," National HBPA president Leroy Gessmann said. "He will be missed by all the horsemen and horsewomen he worked so hard for, not only in Minnesota and Arizona but all across the county."

"Tom was a great family man, horseman, and my friend for over 10 years, and he will surely be missed," Arizona HBPA president J. Lloyd Yother said. "Tom spent tireless hours working to protect and improve the interests of Arizona horsemen and horsewomen. He was instrumental in getting advance deposit wagering legislation here as well as getting added money for Arizona breeders in open races and funds for Arizona breeders' awards."

Metzen was preceded in death by son Thomas Jr. and brother Jim. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Karen; children Tim and Kathy (Tim) Machacek; grandchildren Nick (Tamara), Laura (Carl), Travis (Kayelynn), Luke (Shahara), Kayla, Adam, and Allison; great-grandchildren Mya, Ava, Colton, and Cooper; brother David (Leslie); and sister-in-law Sandie Metzen.

A memorial service will be held Aug. 16, at 11:30 a.m. CDT at St. James Lutheran Church, 460 W. Annapolis St. in West St. Paul, Minn. Family will greet friends Aug 15 from 4-7 p.m. at Kandt and Tetrick Funeral Home, 140 8th Avenue North in South St. Paul, and will greet friends one hour before the church service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may go to SSP Educational Foundation.