Joe Thomson, breeder of Little Brown Jug winners Bettor's Delight and No Pan Intended and master of Winbak Farm, has been elected as the 25th Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame honoree by a panel of national and international harness racing enthusiasts.
The native of Cynthiana, Ky. will be officially inducted and presented a commemorative gold ring at the Mayor’s Breakfast to be held in the Hospitality Pavilion at the Fairgrounds on the morning of Sept. 23, the date of the Jugette Pace.
“I love coming to Delaware and being with longtime friends, Tommy Thomson and Phil Terry," said Thomson. "Tom is one of the few Thomsons in this country who spells his name correctly. Tom and Phil approached us in 2006 to take over the sponsorship of the Magical Mike Pace. That first year Ponder set a World record of 1:49...what a start.”
In 1991, Joe and wife JoAnn founded Winbak Farm in the Maryland horse country near Chesapeake City, a short distance from Baltimore and Philadelphia. “We bought Winfield Farm, where the Thoroughbred Northern Dancer was born. The contract prohibited us from using the name Winfield, so we shortened it to Win and then used the names of our three kids, Bradley, Ashley and Kimberly to complete the name Winbak,” explained Thomson.
Joe has emerged as one of the leading figures in the Standardbred sport. He graduated from Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Economics. Upon graduation in 1966, he served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
“My uncle Pat was a Saddle horse trainer and as a youngster I attended the Junior League Horse Show at The Red Mile. My Dad (Jack) also took me to The Red Mile because he liked harness racing better than the Thoroughbreds.”
In the years following his graduation and service in the Army, Joe and JoAnn were married and lived in Phoenixville, Pa., near Philadelphia which is the home of JoAnn.
Returning home from a business convention in Florida, “I sat next to Red Dodds, who was on the board of directors at Liberty Bell Park in Philadelphia. He got me excited and he gave me some tickets to the track. JoAnn and I saw the opportunity to race for big purses at Liberty Bell, Brandywine, the Meadowlands and Freehold. “
Thomson then partnered with Ed Gold to form Whitehorse Farm in Valley Forge, Pa. Whitehorse soon became one of the leading breeding farms in the sport. Thomson and Gold dispersed all of their broodmares and in 1991, Joe and JoAnn launched Winbak. “We had not the wildest notion that we would become as big and successful as we have. JoAnn does all of the bookkeeping including all of the complicated pedigree research and sales preparation. She is involved in everything I do.”
This decade, Winbak has been among the top two breeding operations in the sport. Since 1998, Winbak has bred the winners of $140 million including back-to-back “Horse of the Year” champions No Pan Intended and Rainbow Blue and Hambletonian winner, Vivid Photo.
Thomson is one of four owners of The Red Mile, a trustee and director of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., and a director of the Hambletonian Society. He is also a member of the board of directors at Transylvania University. He and JoAnn recently donated $5.5 million for the construction of a student dormitory at the Lexington school. In addition to his holdings in harness racing, he is president of Pacer Financial Inc., a financial planning company.
Tickets to the Mayor’s Breakfast are available for $30 a person by phoning (800) 335-3247 or by writing The Mayor’s Breakfast, PO Box 1278, Delaware, Ohio 43015. (LBJ)