04/24/2017 10:26AM

Capps, longtime racing executive and professor, dies at 71

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Tim Capps, a longtime racing executive who was the director of the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program, died Saturday, several months after being hospitalized in Louisville for a stroke, according to friends and associates. Capps was 71.

Known as a jack of all trades, Capps had wide-ranging experience in the racing world prior to joining the university’s equine program in 2011, with top positions at The Jockey Club, the Maryland Jockey Club, and the Thoroughbred Record on his résumé, along with authoring several biographies of top racehorses. He brought an analytical, sober eye to all of his work, but students and co-workers also remembered Capps for his wry sense of humor and unwavering support.

“Tim Capps was the ultimate mentor,” wrote a student, Christine Oser, on her blog. “He was the director of the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program and a professor, but more importantly, he became a second father to all the students that passed through. All who knew him know that signature Capps smirk, that look over his glasses that makes you think you’re in trouble, and that sarcasm that made Capps, well, Capps.”

In a statement, Todd Mooradian, the dean of the University of Louisville’s College of Business, said that Capps “loved to teach,” and that “his name was synonymous with the horse industry.”

“We will miss his dedication to our equine program and our students, as well as his enthusiasm for an industry that is one of the foundations of the Kentucky economy,” Mooradian said.

Capps was most closely associated with the Maryland racing industry, where he served as the executive vice president of the Maryland Jockey Club’s two tracks, Laurel Park and Pimlico, from 1995-99 and from 2002-04. At the time, he also served as the executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and the executive director of the Maryland Million.

Capps graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in journalism, and throughout his career, he wrote numerous articles and opinion pieces for Thoroughbred magazines, including the Thoroughbred Record, where he was the editor and publisher in the 1980s. He wrote equine biographies of Secretariat and Spectacular Bid as well as an account of the rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar.

Capps also had wide experience elsewhere. He served as an infantry officer in the Vietnam War, was a management analyst for the Defense Logistics Agency, and was a portfolio manager and analyst for an investment counseling firm. While at the University of Louisville, he also operated as a consultant to the racing industry.

Tributes to Capps began appearing on social media on Saturday, shortly after news spread that he had died.

“Capps was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known,” said Liam Benson, a former student in the Equine Industry Program who is now a trainer. “I will be forever grateful for everything he has done for me as a mentor and a friend.”

“Capps was not only my professor but my mentor and one of my closest friends,” said student Leah England on Twitter. “He was the most incredible person I’ve ever met, and I’m heartbroken.”

Capps is survived by his wife, Nancy, and his daughter, Meredith.