11/05/2010 4:39PM

Tom Longstaff, trainer, dies

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Trainer Tom Longstaff died from what was called an “overwhelming infection,” in Surrey Memorial Hospital Thursday. Longstaff, who was 66, had been diagnosed with leukemia last year.

Longstaff was the owner and trainer of Dancewithavixen, who will be inducted into the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame on Dec. 10.

According to his girlfriend, jockey Stephanie Fedora, a celebration of Longstaff’s life will be scheduled in the near future.

“He was so happy and was really looking forward to seeing Dancewithavixen being honored,” said Fedora.

Longstaff won 152 races from 1,221 starters in his career. Dancewithavixen was by far the best horse he trained. She won 12 races for earnings of $496,039. She won eight stakes as a 3-year-old, including the Grade 3 Ballerina for fillies and mares.

“She was really something special,” said Longstaff when he retired her after she won the B.C. Cup Distaff in 2004.

Longstaff ranked Lethal Grande as the second-best horse he ever trained. An Oregon-bred, Lethal Grande won six races with including the Oregon Sprint Championship after Longstaff claimed him for $32,000 in 2006. Lethal Grande also finished second in the Portland Meadows Mile.

Longstaff was an outrider at Hastings for many years. He grew up right across the street from the now-defunct Lansdowne race track in Richmond, B.C. He went to high school with Wayne Russell, a steward at Hastings.

“He was a good horseman, and he always conducted his business in a professional manner,” said Russell. “He also had a way of bouncing back when things were going against him.”

Longstaff is survived by four adult children.