Horseman, Track Owner R. D. Hubbard, 84, Passes

Influential horseman and racetrack owner R.D. Hubbard, 84, died on Wednesday, at his home in Palm Desert, Calif.

Born in Smith Center, Kansas, on June 13, 1935, Randall Dee Hubbard was the youngest of eight children. He worked in his family’s icehouse and attended Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. Upon graduation, he became a teacher.

Hubbard left teaching to become a glass salesman in 1959. Nine years later, he became president of Safelite Auto Glass. In 1978, he formed his own company, AFG Industries, which he helped grow into the second-largest glass manufacturer in North America.

During his first years in the glass business in Kansas, Hubbard and his boss, Art Lankin, became interested in Quarter Horses. While they started with show horses, it quickly became apparent that racing was more lucrative, which launched Hubbard’s career in the racing industry.

In his own name, he has bred the earners of more than $4.7 million, and owned, bred and raced many more in partnerships. Among the many horses he was involved with are champions Brenda Beautiful, Denim N Diamonds, Feature Mr Bojangles, Ketel Won, My Dashing Lady, Noconi, Stoli and Super Sound Charge.

He also raced Thoroughbreds, with such luminaries as Corwyn Bay (IRE), Gentlemen (ARG), Stravinsky and many more.

Many great horses came from his Crystal Springs Farm, first located in Kentucky and now in New Mexico.

Hubbard bought Ruidoso Downs in 1988 with partner Dr. Ed Allred, and eventually became the sole owner until he sold it in 2017.

“Dee Hubbard meant as much to the Quarter Horse business as anyone we’ve ever seen,” said Lowell Neumayer, manager of the Ruidoso Sale Co. “If it hadn’t been for Dee, I don’t believe there would be a Ruidoso Downs. After working hard to get gaming in New Mexico, several attempts had failed. He stayed committed until it passed and racing could prosper.

“When Dee bought the track in 1988, he asked me to come run the sale company. I agreed to stay for one year. Thirty two years later, I’m still here. We had a wonderful relationship all these years.”

He also built and operated The Woodlands, a dual greyhound and racehorse facility in Kansas City, Kansas. In addition, Hubbard has been chairman of Hollywood Park and Turf Paradise, and he headed a group that was awarded the license to build Zia Park in 2003.

He helped create the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and as a member of NTRA’s board of directors, he co-founded its Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force.

“With the passing of R.D. Hubbard, we have lost a visionary leader who rose from humble beginnings to become a highly successful businessman, philanthropist, and sportsman,” said Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the NTRA. “He was a passionate and successful participant in horse racing at all levels: breeder, horse owner, racetrack owner and operator, handicapper, and fan. A teacher and mentor to many, his numerous contributions to the industry he loved included his unrelenting drive to unite leading breeders, owners, trainers, and racetrack operators to establish the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).”

Hubbard and his wife, Joan Dale, founded the R. D. and Joan Dale Hubbard Foundation in 1986; The Shoemaker Foundation, formed in 1991; and the Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico.

The R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard Foundation supports charitable causes for which the two have special regard. To date, the foundation has given more than $25 million to educational scholarships to Hubbard’s alma mater, Butler County Community College; the Shoemaker Foundation; the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America; American Quarter Horse Foundation; projects in poor communities in southeastern New Mexico; medical research; and additional causes.

He served for many years on the AQHA Racing Committee and a term on the AQHA Racing Council.

He was awarded the AQHA Racing Council Lifetime Achievement Award, the AQHA Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award, the Jockeys’ Guild Merit Award, the Horatio Alger Award, the California Equine Retirement Foundation Award of Merit, Galbreath Award by the University of Louisville, and was honored as Man of the Year by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in 2000.

For his achievements and impact on the industry, Hubbard was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2009.

“We were very saddened to learn of the passing of R.D. Hubbard, whose contributions as an owner and breeder, racetrack operator and industry executive made him one the most influential people in horse racing,” said the Breeders’ Cup in a statement. “Mr. Hubbard served as a Director on the Breeders’ Cup Board, and hosted the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Championships as owner of Hollywood Park. His business savvy, steady hand on the crucial issues facing the Breeders’ Cup, and wry sense of humor were of great benefit to us all. We will also remember him for his ground-breaking work in helping launch the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and for his bountiful philanthropic contributions to so many worthy causes through the R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard Foundation. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.”

Information on services will be added to this AQHA obituary when available. Click here for updates.

 

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