01/31/2017 11:20AM

Clyde Rice, racing patriarch, dead at 79

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Clyde Rice, a groundbreaking horseman in the field of pinhooking and the pivot point for a large racing family tree, including prominent trainer Linda Rice, died Monday at his home in Anthony, Fla. He was 79.

A native of Antigo, Wis., and a childhood friend of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Rice entered the Thoroughbred industry as a trainer, saddling horses during the summers while teaching high school the rest of the year. He eventually pursued training full-time and became a perennial leader at Waterford Park (now Mountaineer Park) and Penn National Race Course with a stable of over 100 horses.

In their youth, Rice and Lukas would purchase mustangs headed for slaughter to break, train, and resell at auction. Rice eventually brought that method to the Thoroughbred industry, becoming a pioneer in the practice of buying yearlings at auction and training them for resale at age 2, a practice now commonly known as pinhooking.

Rice sold horses in Central Florida under the name of his Indian Prairie Ranch and continued to work closely with Lukas, culminating in Rice’s selection of two-time champion Life’s Magic for the trainer. Lukas also bought champion 2-year-old filly Family Style privately from Rice after the filly was purchased for $60,000 at the 1984 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Another pinhooking conquest for Rice was multiple Grade 1 winner Farma Way, who he bought for $25,000 as a yearling in 1988 and turned around the following year for $145,000.

Rice remained an active purchaser into his later years, and was the leading buyer of the 2014 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. winter mixed sale’s consignor-select session.

“His vision of an athlete within a young equine allowed him to forge a new direction in the business,” read a statement from the family. “Many high level horses have been sold by his consignment, Indian Prairie Ranch. His sons, daughter, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and hundreds of former employees have studied his lead and have found their own niche areas of the Thoroughbred industry. Clyde was a born teacher. He taught people and horses alike.”

In addition to Linda, Rice's sons Bryan, Wayne, and Curt have all trained or ridden, while his grandchildren include jockey Taylor Rice, trainers Kevin and Adam Rice, and consignor Brandon Rice. He is also survived by grandchildren Ashley and Cash.