Saturday, March 28, 2009
John “Jack” Dreyfus, Sr., the “Lion of Wall Street” who became one of Thoroughbred racing’s more prominent owners, died Friday. Chairman of the New York Racing Association’s Board of Trustees in 1969 and 1975, Dreyfus was 95.
Born August 28, 1913 in Montgomery, Ala., the founder of the Dreyfus Funds graduated from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He is widely publicized for being the man who “invented” the commonplace mutual fund through direct marketing to the public.
Racing fans, however, knew him as the owner of the 2,200-acre Hobeau Farm in Ocala, Fla., which he sold in February, 2005 for more than $12 million. He named the farm after he combined his once secret desire to be a hobo with the first name of his first horse, Beau Gar.
“Jack Dreyfus was a major figure in the field of Thoroughbred racing and a prominent owner of Hobeau Farm for more than 40 years,” said NYRA President and Chief Executive Officer Charles E. Hayward. “Jack was the consummate racing enthusiast and he will be long remembered and dearly missed.”
With Hall of Famer H. Allen Jerkens as his trainer, Dreyfus campaigned such horses as Beau Purple, who defeated five-time Horse of the Year Kelso three times in the 1960s, including the ‘62 Man o’War Stakes – the last stakes race at “old” Belmont Park -- Onion, who defeated Triple Crown winner Secretariat in the 1973 Whitney at Saratoga; Prove Out, who upset Secretariat in the 1973 Woodward at Belmont Park; Handsome Boy, who defeated Buckpasser in the 1967 Brooklyn Handicap and Blessing Angelica, who won the Delaware Handicap in 1971 and 1972.
Other top Hobeau horses were Chas Conerly, Duck Dance and Kelly Kip.
It was Hobeau Farm that helped Jerkens earn the nickname “The Giant Killer.” In 1975, Jerkens, at age 45, was the youngest trainer at the time to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“Jack was just a great guy,” Jerkens said from Florida. “I met him in 1962 when Pat Lynch (the late NYRA vice-president) came up to me and said that Jack wanted to see me. Pat told me that Jack was building a new farm in Ocala and that I really should talk to him.
“I was leading trainer at the (Aqueduct) spring meet at the time we met. Three days later, he gave me six horses – including Beau Purple - -and all of them won. I trained for him exclusively for 20 years. And then, one day, he told me I had better get some more owners because he didn’t have enough good horses for me. He was just a terrific person.”
Dreyfus married in 1939 Joan Personette, from whom he was divorced; they had one child, John (Jonny). Dreyfus’ paternal grandfather was a first cousin of Alfred Dreyfus, who was unjustly found guilty of treason in the infamous Dreyfus Affair of 1894.
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