Veteran Standardbred owner and breeder Clarence L. Chaffee Sr., 83, died Nov. 10. In the 1980s, Mr. Chaffee fulfilled a lifelong dream and entered the Standardbred breeding business. He and his wife bought a small horse farm in Hartwood, Va., and under the moniker of Shadow Acres bred and raised horses that they largely raced themselves for more than 20 years.
Mr. Chaffee, the son of Earl and Irma Chaffee, was born in Ithaca, N.Y., on Aug. 4, 1929. A carpenter in his early years, Mr. Chaffee became a restaurateur in the 1960s when he and his wife, Helen Yianilos Chaffee, started, owned and operated the Chaffee Chocolate Shop in Cortland, N.Y.
In 1969, Mr. Chaffee moved his family to Virginia where he became a principal owner of Ranch House Restaurants, a small chain of family-style restaurants in Virginia and Maryland.
Horses and harness racing were Mr. Chaffee's passion from the time he was a youth in upstate New York where he and his family enjoyed going to the races at Vernon Downs. So it was quite natural that after he relocated to Virginia he became a regular patron at Maryland's Rosecroft and Freestate raceways. There he enjoyed watching the horses and handicapping the races. He parked in his regular parking spot on the apron of Rosecroft, rolled down his window and chatted with all of the other regulars who stopped by to see what he liked in upcoming races.
Mr. Chaffee claimed his first horses in 1973-- an Insured horse named Crooked Creek Pat and a Fulla Napoleon horse named Fulla Taffy. While Mr. Chaffee enjoyed rooting for these and his other horses, it was a decade later that he experienced his greatest success with the acquisition of the Crockett gelding Hefner, who was out of the Local Light mare Miss Celebrity.
Hefner not only was one of Mr. Chaffee's favorite horses, but he also became a local fan favorite. His local following and celebrity status was earned by his frequent trips to the winner's circle.
Hefner, who raced back when folks thought that any horse that could pace a mile in under 2:00 was really something, paced in 1:57.1f and earned $142,711. He was also honored as a Horse of the Year by the Cloverleaf Horsemen's Association.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Chaffee is survived by his sister, Debra;daughters, Susanand Sandra (James) Persons;sons, Clarence "Buck” (Judith)and Anthony; numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. Mr. Chaffee was preceded in death by his parents;brother, Earl, Jr.; andsisters, Winifred Knapp and Katherine Butts.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday (Nov. 16) at the Laurel Hill Memorial Park, Spotsylvania, Va. (USTA)