01/27/2015 9:13AM

Northwest Farms owner Jerre Paxton dies at age 76

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Reed Palmer Photography
Jerre Paxton, shown in the winner's circle at Emerald Downs in May 2014, died on Sunday night at age 76.

SEATTLE – Jerre Paxton, a titan in the Pacific Northwest breeding industry and charter member of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame, died Sunday evening at his Seattle home. The cause was an apparent heart attack, family members said. Paxton was 76.

Paxton, who owned Northwest Farms in Yakima, Wash., bred 12 state champions and ranked No. 1 at Emerald Downs with 37 career stakes victories.

Stopshoppingdebbie, a Northwest Farms homebred named for Paxton’s wife, Debbie Paxton, set an Emerald Downs record with eight consecutive stakes victories from 2013-14. Paxton also campaigned Smarty Deb, who became the first Emerald-based runner to compete in the Breeders’ Cup when she finished fifth in the 2007 Juvenile Fillies.

Featured among Paxton’s other state champions were Northwest legends Loto Canada, Sharper One, and Firesweeper, who was inducted into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame in 2011.

Northwest Farms was Washington’s leading breeder from 1984 through 1995 while standing influential stallions Drum Fire and Knights Choice. Paxton later moved most of his breeding operation to Greenfield Farm near Lexington, Ky.

Paxton employed some of the region’s top trainers over the years, including Bob McMeans, Doris Harwood, and in recent years, Tom Wenzel.

“Jerre was a private man who kept things close to the vest, but the guy had a huge heart,” Wenzel said Monday. “He took good care of you -- you saw his employees stay around for a long time. With the horses, it was all black-and-white with him. He had a vision, and he knew what he wanted to do. It was an absolute privilege to train for him.”

Paxton spent Sunday afternoon at Emerald Downs, wagering on simulcast races from his regular table in the Turf Club.

“We’re stunned and deeply saddened by this loss,” said Emerald Downs founder Ron Crockett. “The red-and-black silks of Jerre Paxton and Northwest Farms are emblematic of enormous quality.”

In addition to his wife, Debbie, of Yakima, Paxton is survived by daughters Stephanie Paxton-Jackson, Melissa Paxton-Steiner, and Kim Hagner. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Gary Dougherty More than 1 year ago
Jerre raced horses at Longacres and Emerald Downs. He built a solid broodmare band in Kentucky and bred them to some of the best sires in Ky. Northwest Farms is the all-time leader in stakes wins at Emerald Downs (43). He raced his fillies locally and they did the job - Winning numerous stakes races. They would go off to the shed and produce more top-notched quality that raced at the Auburn oval in Washington. He made numerous treks to Kentucky every year to see his grand horses and be a regular at the "Round Table" at the Keeneland Sales. He wined and dined so many that loved the pedigree and the game while in Kentucky. He didn't miss a beat: Every Day (24/7) was a day to be involved in this special game and Jerre did that with kindness and a heart that was so wonderful to so many that worked in the industry. Mr. Paxton was "The Gentle Giant" in Washington Racing. Nobody Loved the HORSE like Jerre did - Nobody. Mr. Paxton will be missed at Emerald Downs. You wouldn't believe how many fans, employees at the track and jockeys that could tell you a lovely story about JP's silent appreciation of everyone who loved this industry. -God Bless
Gary Dougherty More than 1 year ago
Mr. Paxton loved everything about the Thoroughbred plain and simple. He enjoyed looking at the DRF and betting races at the major tracks across the country. His knowledge of breeding was a big factor in placing his wagers.