08/09/2011 9:52AM

Thomas Heard Jr., south Florida trainer, dies at 93


MIAMI - Trainer Thomas Heard Jr., a regular on the south Florida circuit for many years, died at the age of 93 in Texas on Aug. 4.

Heard, a native Texan, began his training career in New England in 1938 following the retirement of his father, Thomas Heard Sr. His first stakes winner came that year at Suffolk Downs with Be Blue in the Commonwealth Handicap.

Heard campaigned in New England, New York, New Jersey and Chicago before settling in Miami and building the Heardsale Training Center in the 1960s. He sold the property several years later, relocating to California where he became leading owner at Hollywood Park in 1973. He returned to Miami three years later and remained a regular in south Florida until his retirement.

Heard, who trained at least one stakes winner during eight consecutive decades, registered perhaps his most notable victory when he sent out Built for Pleasure to upset Unbridled’s Song and Victory Speech in the 1996 edition of Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth. Heard also captured the opening two divisions of the 2002 Florida Stallion Stakes with Lawbook, whose quest for a sweep ended with his sixth-place finish in the In Reality.

Heard’s daughter Vaughan took over her father’s operation upon his retirement and continues to keep a small stable at Calder.