Veterinarian Dr. John S. "Shack" Kenney

Veterinarian Dr. John S. "Shack" Kenney

Courtesy Megan Kenney

Renowned Vet John Kenney Dies at 79

Kenney was an accomplished Thoroughbred and Standardbred vet

Well-regarded veterinarian Dr. John S. "Shack" Kenney, 79, died Aug. 27 with his family at his side.

A lifelong love of horses led Kenney to a career in veterinary medicine, which he started at the Hagyard, Davidson, and McGee clinic near Lexington. Kenney's father was legendary Central Kentucky farm manager Charles A. Kenney, who ran Stoner Creek Farm for owner John Hertz. Stoner Creek raced 1928 Kentucky Derby winner Reigh Count, then bred and raced 1943 Triple Crown winner Count Fleet (a son of Reigh Count).

The younger Kenney taught surgery at Cornell University in 1961-62 before being drafted into the Army. He eventually moved to the Mid-Atlantic region to work at harness tracks in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Kenney owned a farm in New Jersey and dabbled in breeding. He is a co-breeder of Albatross, U.S. harness racing's horse of the year in 1971-72. 

Kenney operated a general practice for much of his career, handling reproductive and performance-related issues for all breeds. One of his longtime clients was Stonegate Farm in New Jersey, which at its peak encompassed four integrated farms totaling 900 acres. The farm stood four stallions and bred 500-600 mares a year. Kenney is credited by the farm for maintaining an overall conception rate of 90%. 

After retiring as a practicing vet, Kenney got involved with real estate and enjoyed being a docent at Polly Hill Arboretum along with his wife, Corinne.  He is survived by Corinne; his children Jonathan, Jennifer and Megan; brother Charles; sister Carolyn; grandchildren Alex, Patrick and Lauren; great grandchild Sydney Rose.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude's Children's Hospital and/or The Polly Hill Arboretum on Martha's Vineyard.