10/23/2014 4:02PM

Michigan horseman Uelmen dies at 66


Larry Uelmen, a Michigan-based trainer, breeder, and jockey’s agent, died Oct. 19. He was 66.

Uelmen, a native of Wisconsin and resident of White Lake, Mich., saddled 1,190 winners from 1976 to his retirement in 2012, with his charges earning a combined $9,677,103 during that time span.

His most successful runner was the 12-time stakes winner Pongo Boy. The son of Matchlite was one of the top Michigan-breds of the mid-1990s, winning the Michigan Sire Stakes at Detroit Race Course as a juvenile in 1994, as a 3-year-old in 1995, and against the handicap division in 1997. Pongo Boy won 22 of 87 starts over nine seasons of racing for lifetime earnings of $776,184.

Uelmen won eight editions of the Michigan Sire Stakes, the state’s marquee series of races, with two of them coming in 2009 at Pinnacle Race Course, where Hustle Now won the 2-year-old fillies division and Hakuna Matata bested 3-year-old females.

The last horse Uelmen saddled as the trainer of record was a winner, Patent Pending, on June 24, 2012, at Mount Pleasant Meadows. His son, Jason Uelmen, has become a regular trainer in the Midwest since taking out his license in 2012.

Uelmen served as president of the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and he was a key player in the construction of the Michigan Racing Law of 1995, which legalized full-card simulcasting for the state’s tracks.

Uelmen was working as a jockey’s agent during the current meet at Hazel Park Raceway, where he had the book for Brittany Vandenberg and Glenmore Mayhew.

“I didn't know Larry long and not as well as some of the horsemen that he trained with for years,” Vandenberg said, “but from the time we started with each other until the end, he told me that he didn’t know much about being an agent but absolutely loved the racetrack, and he really just wanted a purpose to be up early in the morning and around it daily. I’m shocked and saddened about this, and my condolences are with the family.”

Uelmen is survived by his wife, Virginia, sons Jason and Nick, and daughter Katie. Arrangements are under the direction of Elton Black and Son Funeral Home in Highland, Mich.