02/01/2017 2:16PM

Rice finds solace in work after loss of father

Barbara D. Livingston
Linda Rice comes from a family of horse people who descend from her father, Clyde, who died on Monday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Linda Rice was at Belmont Park on Wednesday accompanying horses back and forth from her barn to the training track.

On this chilly, overcast morning, work was probably therapeutic for Rice, whose father, Clyde, died Monday at his home in Anthony, Fla., at the age of 79.

Clyde Rice was a trainer and successful pinhooker of horses who produced a family of horse people including Linda, arguably the most successful female trainer in the sport. Rice’s brothers Wayne, Bryan, and Curt were all in the horse business. Clyde Rice’s grandchildren Kevin and Adam were trainers, and another, Brandon, was a pinhooker. Taylor, a granddaughter, was a jockey who recently married fellow rider Jose Ortiz.

“My father was a great teacher, great father, a great horseman,” Linda Rice said outside her barn Wednesday. “He had a lot of ambition, a great work ethic that he passed on to all of his children, grandchildren. They say the judge of a man is what he left behind, and he left us with a lot.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to my father,” Rice, unable to fight back tears, continued. “The entire family is in the horse business – my nieces, my nephews – whether they be trainers or jockeys or pinhookers or run farms. We’re all very proud of him, and we can only hope that he felt the same.”

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Linda Rice said her father had suffered from diabetes for 40 years. Last Dec. 3, Clyde Rice fell and broke his hip, forcing him to miss Taylor Rice’s wedding. Clyde Rice was in the hospital through the Christmas holiday but was able to come home in recent weeks.

Linda Rice noted how her father and mother were still active, so much so that up until two years ago, they rode horses daily.

“He loved the races,” Linda Rice said. “Myself, my nephews, my brothers had horses for him for years. He and my mom, when they weren’t here, they were watching on TVG. This year, my mom and dad spent a month with me at Saratoga. That’s always precious time for me, having breakfast with them at the harness track.”

With that, Rice had to stop, compose herself, and get back to work.

On this morning, it seemed, the horses were taking care of Rice.

Rice was scheduled to return to Florida on Thursday. On Saturday, a service for Clyde Rice will be held at the Hiers-Baxley Funeral Chapel, 910 Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, Fla., at 3 p.m. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Diabetes Association in memory of Rice.