B.G. “Scooter” Hughes
By a horseman, out of a horsewoman, raised on a horse farm, Scooter was more or less predestined to be in the Thoroughbred horse business. The Hughes family has always been very close-knit and has always been involved with horses. Growing up on Greentree Stud and then moving to Carlisle around age six when his father, Gail, took over the management of Forest Retreat Farm for Dr. Elsie Asbury and with his mother, Ruth, involved in the breaking and training of their yearlings, Scooter has never known much more than horses. Reminiscing, Scooter noted that “the lifestyle of the family farm was a great lifestyle to grow up in”. Gone in the morning, back for lunch, then out and about the farm again until dinner time, Scooter remembers nothing of parental supervision, but instead the ability to play, explore and learn in the outdoors.
Scooter left Kentucky to attend Middlebury College in Vermont, then returned home and attended the University of Kentucky, but couldn’t get horses out of his mind or system. In 1975 Scooter left Central Kentucky to travel to Pawling, New York, near the New York – Connecticut line to start Akindale Farm for Mr. John Hettinger. When Scooter arrived, there were three mares and a couple of riding horses. Scooter laid out the farm and oversaw the construction of barns and pastures for the nascent breeding operation. When Scooter left in 1981 to come home and help his father with Far Cry Farm, there was a band of broodmares and three stallions on Akindale, including Sir Wimborne and An Act.
The “Ted Bates Farm Manager of the Year” is selected by a committee that is made up of a panel of five people:
- Ted Bates (permanent committee chair)
- The current FMOY
- The previous year’s FMOY
- The current KTFMC President
- The previous year’s KTFMC President
The following criteria are used as the basis to select the person whom the panel feels is most qualified to represent the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club and our industry as the “Farm Manager of the Year.”
- Quality and success of management
- Service to the community
- Involvement in the KTFMC
- Industry leadership and dedication
At Far Cry Farm, Gail was setting up a breeding and boarding operation under the name “Hughes Management” as thingsbegan to slow down at Forest Retreat and Dr. Asbury retired and began to cut back on his breeding and racing operation. Scooter managed the stallions Nasty and Bold and Kiri’s Clown with Gail and helped with the mares and yearlings that Hughes Management had there as well as handling sales consignments. Scooter credits his parents with teaching him pretty much everything he learned about horses early on, especially when he started to turn towards training. It was his mother, Ruth, who taught him the fundamentals and taught him to observe other training operations and how they trained horses. Specifically, he was able to learn a lot by watching the breaking and training of the Forest Retreat horses and some of the early horses owned by Alex Campbell.
With the breaking and training experience gained from Ruth, Scooter began to train a couple of horses on the side. He obtained a few stalls at the training center and now can be found in Barn 16 at the Thoroughbred Center with a string of fifteen to twenty horses. Among his favorite horses are the stakes winning gelding, Solo Cat, who raced for nine years for Scooter and owner, James Brunker, and of course his all-time favorite runner, the multiple Grade 3 winning gelding, Rahystrada, who raced for eight seasons for Scooter and his dear and lifelong friend, owner Robert Courtney, Jr. Rahystrada ran in four Grade 1 Arlington Millions with respectful third, fourth and fifth place finishes while compiling a lifetime bankroll of $1,383,730. “He was the best horse, by far, I’ve ever trained” commented Scooter. Anyone who has ever had a horse in training with Scooter has had to be impressed with his laid-back, down to earth fashion and with the way he becomes not only your trainer but also one of your best friends. As Robert Courtney, Jr. so aptly put it when speaking of Scooter, “I have known Scooter for many years. He is a man of extreme kindness and compassion. And, if he is your friend, in the fullest sense he is your friend forever.”
Over the years Scooter has put in a lot of time with the Farm Managers’ Club working his way up the ranks in the mid-eighties as a director and officer to finally become Club President in 1990. Since then Scooter has served countless terms as director and Sergeant-at-Arms, his current position with the Club. Scooter serves as an invaluable connection between the older and younger members and gives the Club cohesiveness by being able to know where to turn for help and advice among all of these members, especially the older members. Some of his best memories are of the summer parties held by the Club on the old Polo Grounds at the Madden’s Hamburg Place and the big Christmas parties that always featured name bands such as the Jimmy Church Band. This party was always well attended and came after the end of the sales season and before the following year’s foaling and breeding seasons. Rumor and some old “eye-witness” accounts have it that Scooter could do a pretty mean “gator” back then.
Scooter has been an active part of the evolution of the Club into the charitable, giving back to the community organization that it has now become. He has helped with the growth and development of the Club Directory, the Golf Scramble and the Sporting Clays Classic and their ability to raise funds for charities such as Central Kentucky Riding for the Handicapped, KEMI, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Kentucky Horse Farm workers Education Fund among the many beneficiaries.
Scooter has also been an extremely active volunteer with the High Hope Steeplechase going back to the original days at Doug Davis’ High Hope Farm. This has been a family tradition involving the entire Hughes family over the years with Gail, Ruth and siblings Libba and Wick all involved with everything from “clerk of the course” to serving as outriders, stewards, timers and clerk of scales. Scooter has also served as a board member with High Hope and is probably behind only Bill Wofford in his years of service.
The Thoroughbred business is still very much Hughes business with wife Traci working with Bob McCann at McCann and Associates, son Byron overseeing Todd Pletcher’s Belmont barn in New York and daughter, Sydney, entering her third year of veterinary school at Auburn University. Brother Wick Hughes is the assistant manager at Shawnee Farm in Harrodsburg and sister Libba helps manage Horse Cents in Versailles.
The Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club takes great honor in bestowing the Ted Bates Farm Manager of the Year Award on B.G. “Scooter” Hughes for 2014 and would like to recognize him for his numerous years of service to the Club and community.