03/17/2011 1:42PM

Kentucky Horse Park manager dies


Cathy Roby, the Kentucky Horse Park’s longtime Hall of Champions manager, died Wednesday night in St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, Ky. She was 62.

Roby had entered the hospital after suffering what the Kentucky Horse Park described on its Facebook page as “a massive stroke” on March 14. Roby was best known as the late Hall of Famer John Henry’s closest companion after his retirement to the park in 1985. Roby cared for the gelding for the last 16 years of his life, until his death at 32 in October 2007.

Roby had worked at the Hall of Champions since 1991, and in her time there she took hands-on care of some of racing’s best-loved champions, including 1995 and 1996 Horse of the Year Cigar, 1988 Horse of the Year Alysheba, and 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide. But John Henry remained one of Roby’s favorites, despite his infamously cantankerous personality.

“I am always a servant to this horse, but it’s my honor,” Roby told Daily Racing Form in 2007.

“I can think of no one who was a kinder person or someone who was more dedicated to the park or who loved the horses in her care more than Cathy,” said John Nicholson, the park’s executive director. “The Hall of Champions will carry on, but it will never be quite the same without Cathy.”

Funeral arrangements were pending on Thursday afternoon.