Rice Family/Louise Reinagel

Pinhook Pioneer Clyde Rice Dies at 79

Florida horseman was among the first yearling-to-juvenile pinhookers.

Florida pinhooking and 2-year-old in training sale pioneer Clyde D. Rice, 79, passed away Jan. 30 at his home at Indian Prairie Ranch near Anthony, Fla.

The native of Antigo, Wisc., pursued a career as a high school science teacher out of college but followed his passion for horse trading and training during the summer months.

"His passion for the horses was such that he decided eventually to do it full time," said his son Bryan Rice. While racing and training up and down the East Coast, Clyde Rice discovered the best way for him to get better horses into his stable was to find them when they were yearlings and develop them himself.

"Those horses started finding success early," said Rice. "With that came an opportunity to resell them and that fostered the idea of pinhooking into the 2-year-olds-in-training market. He saw there was quite a desire for horses that had proved themselves in a race or showed themselves nicely under tack."

The 2-year-olds in training sales in the 1980s were just starting to evolve into their own segment of the commercial market when Rice began exploring the possibilities of pinhooking.

"My dad certainly wasn't the only one, but he was one of the first to put a foot in the water and figure it out," Rice said.

Clyde Rice moved to Central Florida in 1986, recognizing the advantages of training horses through a winter there instead of his home state. Having the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. nearby, surrounded by a concentration of feed companies, veterinarians, and vanning services along with relatively easy access to the Mid-Atlantic racing market where he had done most of his racing made the move to Florida seem ideal, according to Bryan Rice.

"As he got successful with the yearlings and 2-year-olds, he knew he could lean on the beautiful weather to have them ready for springtime," Rice said.

Clyde Rice was a childhood friend of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. They grew up together going to rodeos and trading horses. When Lukas went out on his own, the friends continued working together with Rice and other members of his family breaking young horses for Lukas and assisting in identifying sale prospects.

"They both found their way to racing and the sport is better off because of their big contributions," Rice said.

Clyde Rice was preceeded in death by his brother Don Rice, and is survived by his wife of 59 years, Jean, along with sisters Kaye Prough and Connie Steckbauer, his other sons Wayne and Curt, and his daughter and prominent New York trainer Linda. He is also survived by grandchildern, Brandon, Ashley, Taylor, Kevin, Adam, and Cash. 

Bryan Rice, who operates Woodside Ranch with his wife Holly alongside his father's farm, said hundreds of former employees studied his father's lead and have found their own niche in the Thoroughbred industry.

"He was a true pioneer who thought outside the box and kept working on it to find a way to make it work," Rice said. "He was also a born teacher, who taught people and horses alike. I just feel fortunate to have been along for the ride."