I am happy to report that all 57 horses at Dr. Stearns farm have new owners and new homes. As many horsemen already know, thanks to e-mails and facebook messages that swarmed the airwaves a little less than two weeks ago, Dr. Daniel Stearns passed away on January 27th, leaving the state of his 57 horses’ future hanging in the balance. Dr. Stearns was 89 years old.
This respected veterinarian’s passing prompted mass attention. Horses were a passion for Dr. Stearns, but that passion purportedly wasn’t necessarily passed on to his family. Lynn Boggs, a horse trainer at Thistledown was contacted shortly after the doctor’s passing and was given the task of relocating and finding homes for the 57 horses at Dr. Stearns Harmony Hill Farm. This included stallions, mares, mares in foal, yearlings, two-year olds, and several older horses. She was given very little time; a week.
Whether or not the horses would have ended up at a “killer” auction can be debated by third parties forever and talked about to death. It is my understanding after speaking with Boggs that this death sentence was not going to happen. She and life partner Jerry Noss were going to make sure of it. The horses were under good care by the farm managers Bob & Theresa at Dr. Stearns Harmony Hill Farm in the meantime and it was business as usual. “It’s a beautiful place,” says Boggs. “The issue, the only issue was that these horses needed new homes, and quickly.”
It’s important to mention here that “making money” off these horses was never a consideration. They were all going to be given away. In Dr. Stearns memory, the family just wanted them to all have good homes. “No one made any money whatsoever off the transfer of these horses,” Boggs said. “A lot of the horses went to private owners, some went to rescue organizations.” They even found a home for the barn cat.
Dr. Stearns was known for getting people started in the racehorse business. “If a person wanted to buy a racehorse, Dr. Stearns made sure it happened,” says former trainer John Myers. The term, “On the cuff,” was widely associated with this Ohio veterinarian and horse breeder. He was willing to deal and would wait to get paid. He derived extreme pleasure from seeing the horses run.
Bill Couch, Thistledown’s Director of Racing says, “I knew Dr Stearns for most of my career while at Thistledown. I trained for Doc in the 70’s while he was the president of the HBPA and founder of the OTBO. I was saddened to hear of his passing, but he is with his beloved wife Nancy now and I am sure they both have some catching up to do. He loved the game and was always looking out for the local horsemen statewide. He was an ambassador for the sport.”
In addition to being a lifelong owner and breeder of Thoroughbreds in Ohio, Dr. Stearns was a former head of the Ohio HBPA; the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association. He has also been credited with helping to form the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners organization. He was an OSU graduate and loved the Buckeyes. His racing colors were scarlet and gray.
Dr. Stearns, may you rest in peace. Your memory lives on.