07/21/2016 10:10AM

McCarthy, owner and trainer of General Quarters, dies at 82

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tom McCarthy, whose success as the owner and trainer of the rags-to-riches horse General Quarters was one of the top feel-good stories in racing in recent times, died early Thursday from melanoma. He was 82.

McCarthy was a retired high school teacher and principal who had dabbled in racing in his later years when he claimed General Quarters for $20,000 as a 2-year-old in May 2008 at Churchill Downs. General Quarters went on to win the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland the following spring, thrusting McCarthy into the spotlight for the 2009 Kentucky Derby. The gray colt finished 10th at 10-1 in the Derby, won by Mine That Bird.

“Tom was a truly great man, very humble and kind,” said Jerry Hills, a close friend who assisted McCarthy with his small stable at Churchill and, in later years, at the nearby Trackside training center.

General Quarters won the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the 2010 Derby undercard before retiring with earnings of $1,226,655 from 27 career starts. McCarthy retained an ownership interest for the horse’s stud career.

McCarthy is survived by his wife and five adult children. Memorial services were pending Thursday.