Updated on 09/16/2011 9:38AM

Trainer found shot to death in home


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Barbara Holbrook was found dead in her trailer home Tuesday in rural Yorkville, Ind., the victim of a gunshot wound. Her estranged husband, Roger, is wanted in connection with the murder, according to police.

Barbara Holbrook, 52, was found dead Tuesday morning by a man who was delivering hay to the property on which the trailer was situated, said John Engelhardt, a spokesman for River Downs in Cincinnati, where both of the Holbrooks had previously worked, on Wednesday. Police in Dearborn County in southeastern Indiana later named Roger Holbrook as a suspect, describing him as "armed and dangerous."

According to sources, the Holbrooks had been estranged for about two years, and Roger had been adamant in his desire to reconcile.

As a trainer, Barbara Holbrook ran a stable that typically consisted of about a dozen horses that competed in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. She ran 986 starters in her career, with 147 wins and earnings of $1,272,846. This year, Holbrook had won with 11 of 60 starters. She was best known for developing young horses with the intent of selling them to larger stables.

Roger Holbrook, 56, was a former trainer and jockey's agent who recently had made a living buying and selling horses at smaller tracks in and around Ohio.

Last week, Barbara Holbrook was ordered suspended for 60 days by the stewards at Turfway Park, where she was stabled. The penalty stemmed from a syringe tainted with a tranquilizer that had been found in her stable.

Melinda Vest, who knew Barbara Holbrook from years of working in the racing offices at Turfway and River, called her "a sweet person who was very quiet and kept to herself. I do know she was scared of her estranged husband."

The Holbrooks, who had no children together, were instrumental in developing a number of young riders. Foremost among those jockeys was Rodney Dickens, who initially made a major splash at River Downs but later was killed in a 1991 spill at Sportsman's Park in Chicago.

The Holbrooks also played an important role in the career of Rodney Prescott, a successful journeyman who rides at River, Hoosier Park, and Turfway Park. Rodney Prescott was the first winner of the Rodney Dickens Award, an award that River gives each year to a promising young apprentice.

Funeral plans for Barbara Holbrook had not been completed Wednesday.