02/25/2016 3:29PM

Virginia breeder Cox dies at 75


Nellie Mae Cox, a longtime Virginia-based owner and breeder, died Wednesday at age 75.

A native Virginian, Cox grew up on Greenfield Farm in Cumberland, Va., and went on to found the demolition company S.B. Cox Inc. with her husband, Sidney B. Cox Jr., which has been in business for 53 years.

Cox and her husband resided at Rose Retreat Farm in Goochland, Va., for five decades, expanding into the Thoroughbred market in the late 1980s with the purchase of a half-stake in a 2-year-old. The family’s Thoroughbred interests later expanded into pinhooking and broodmares, becoming a small but potent breeder. In addition to Rose Retreat Farm, Cox utilized Greenfield Farm to house her mare and foal operations.

The standout from Cox’s breeding program was Showing Up, a multiple Grade 1-winning son of Strategic Mission who competed in the 2006 Kentucky Derby and has stood for Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs operation in various locations. Showing Up was sold for $82,000 at the 2004 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, and later ended up with Roy and Gretchen Jackon’s Lael Stables.

Other notable runners bred by Cox and Rose Retreat Farm include Grade 3-placed stakes winner Gimmeawink, who stands at Mountain Springs Racing Stable in Pennsylvania, and 2003 Virginia-bred Horse of the Year Be Gentle, a Grade 2 winner. She also campaigned stakes winners Plantation and Flying Yolanda as homebreds.

Cox served as a board member for the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and was on the state racing commission’s code revision and rules committee.

Cox is survived by her husband; children Sidney III, Robin, and Lisa; and seven grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her son Michael.

Visitation will be held Friday, Feb. 26 from 5-8 p.m. Eastern at the West Chapel of Bennett Funeral Home in Glen Allen, Va. Funeral services will be held Saturday, Feb. 27 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Richmond, Va., at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions are recommended to Goochland County Fire-Rescue Department or Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services.