05/03/2013 2:42PM

Former Windfields Farm general manager Joseph Hickey dies at 86


Joseph B. Hickey Jr., the longtime general manager of Windfields Farm in Maryland, died Tuesday in Easton, Md. He was 86.

Hickey was with Windfields for about 25 years but had a varied career in the Thoroughbred sport. He also served as a publicist at Pimlico, a Maryland racing commissioner, a turf writer, and a historian of the sport. The latter was especially fitting, as Hickey had spent much time in close proximity to history-making horses, races, and breeders.

A Norfolk, Va., native, Hickey grew up in Baltimore. After graduating from Polytechnic University there, he served as a U.S. Navy ordnance disarmament specialist during World War II, then as an infantryman in Berlin under the blockade during the Korean War.

Hickey started off as a turf writer with Turf and Sport Digest, rising to associate editor before joining the Maryland Jockey Club as its assistant director of racing. He took over Pimlico’s public relations in 1965.

It was during his time at Pimlico that Hickey met breeder E.P. Taylor, whose Northern Dancer won the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. In 1969, Hickey signed on full time with Taylor’s 2,600-acre Windfields Farm, which was branching out from its Canadian base. Hickey participated in Windfields’s acquisition and syndication of 20 stallions, including the $41 million syndication deal for El Gran Senor, the $25 million syndication of Assert, and the $36 million sale of Halo to Tom Tatham and Arthur B. Hancock III. During Hickey’s time at Windfields, Northern Dancer became the world’s most successful commercial Thoroughbred breeding stallion, but the farm also launched the breeding careers of Halo and Deputy Minister, who both also went on to major stud careers.

Throughout his career, Hickey wrote. He contributed to The Morning Telegraph, then the Daily Racing Form , for 27 years as a breeding columnist. He wrote regularly about Maryland racing for The Maryland Horse and, in the 1970s, started a newsletter called “The Drummer Boy” about Maryland Thoroughbred racing and breeding. In his later years, he penned a number of pieces for The Blood-Horse.

Hickey’s wife of 25 years, Arlene, died in 1992. He is survived by sons Joseph B. Hickey III, Sean Earl Hickey, and Ryan Padraic Hickey, and four grandchildren.

A burial Mass was to take place next Friday at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 1210 South Washington Street, Easton, Md. Friends may call from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday at Fellows, Helfbein & Newman Funeral Home, 200 South Harrison Street, Easton, Md. A rosary will be recited at 7:45 p.m. Burial will take place at Oxford Cemetery in Oxford, Md.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Talbot Hospice Foundation, 586 Cynwood Drive, Easton, Md., 21601 or to Sts. Peter and Paul Church Family Life Center Building Fund, 7906 Ocean Gateway, Easton, Md. 21601.