John A. Cashman Jr., 72, one of harness racing's most active and influential leaders for many years, passed away on Sept. 22, in Atlantis, Fla.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 10:30 am at Holy Spirit Church in Lantana, FL. Visitation will be on Monday night 6-8 pm and Tuesday 2-4 and 6-8 pm at Tillman Funeral Home in West Palm Beach.
Mr. Cashman was born June 30, 1940, to John and Eileen (McGuire) Cashman Sr. in Garden City, NY.
Although Mr. Cashman began his career in his native state of New York, it was while working in Kentucky for the Van Lennep family's Castleton Farm that he became one of harness racing's most diligent and dedicated leaders. Whether through Castleton-owned enterprises or service o nvarious horse racing boards, Mr. Cashman actively worked to solve problems and encourage growth and prosperity for harness racing. His work on behalf of the sport was recognized in 1992 when he was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., where he served as an active trustee.
Mr. Cashman was born in New York and at a young age becamean avid fan of harness racing. His father, John Cashman Sr., was a steward for the New York State Racing & Wagering Board and John accompanied his father to the racetrack and other industry events.
The Cashman family lived on Long Island, N.Y., and John jogged his first Standardbred at the age of 10 or 12. During high school he spent the summers working as a groom for Hall of Famer Delvin Miller, both traveling the stakes circuit and helping at Miller's Meadow Lands Farm in Pennsylvania, where at that time the great stallion Adios stood at stud.
In 1958, at the insistence of Miller and Billy Haughton, John decided to pursue a career in racetrack management and took the job as assistant race secretary at Vernon Downs. In 1959, at the age of 19, he was appointed Director of Racing at Roosevelt Raceway, which at the time was one of harness racing's leading venues, regularly attracting crowds of 22,000-25,000 and handling more than $2 million.
In a 1984 Hoof Beats magazine interview, Mr. Cashman remembered those glory days at Roosevelt: "It was a great experience during a really exciting period of time,” he said. "It also brought into focus for me a lot of racetrack management problems.”
Mr. Cashman served as Director of Racing at Roosevelt for eight years, then moved on and formed Cashman Magee Sale Company in partnership with breeder Ray Magee. The venture first began as an auction company but later concentrated on private sales and syndications. He also branched out into the breeding farm world when he became a part of the Buttonwood Tree Farm operation.
In 1980 Mr. Cashman was hired by Frederick Van Lennep to manage Castleton Farm in Lexington, Ky., beginning his 20-year association with Castleton enterprises, which included The Red Mile, Tattersalls Sales Company,and Pompano Park, as well as racetracks in Italy.
Castleton bred scores of champions during Mr. Cashman's leadership, expanded its European connections, managed the great pacing sire Abercrombie, and also brought Niatross and Pine Chip to stud. In 1983 the Castleton-bred Laugh A Day set a record price for a Standardbred yearling when she was sold for $625,000 at Tattersalls.
In 1982, following a suggestion by Van Lennep, Mr. Cashman began working with George Alexander and Curt Greene to craft the framework for the Breeders Crown series of races for harness racing. The Breeders Crown was launched in 1984, with the first event held at The Red Mile in Lexington, and for several years Pompano Park also played host to the championship races. This year the 29th edition of the races will be held at Woodbine in Toronto.
Fred Van Lennep died in 1987 and Mr. Cashman stepped into many additional roles, including operating the farm for the Frederick L. Van Lennep Trust for more than a decade. Those years included more Castleton-bred champions and the addition of Pine Chip to the farm's stallion roster. Finally, in 2000 the trust sold the farm and horses, ending the Castleton era in harness racing.
In 1987, Mr. Cashman was voted to the board of the Hambletonian Society, where he became instrumental in promoting and preserving the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown. In August 2008 he also stepped into the position of chairman of the Society's Executive Committee.
Over the years Mr. Cashman was also an active director of the United States Trotting Association, serving as chairman of the Registration Committee and working throughout the year on issues of importance to breeders.
In addition, Mr. Cashman was an avid advocate for harness racing and Standardbred breeding throughout the horse racing world, serving as vice chairman of the American Horse Council, as a member of the Kentucky Racing Commission, and working with Thoroughbred racing leaders.
Mr. Cashman also served as president of HarnessTracks of America; president the Lexington Trots Breeders Association, operator of both The Red Mile and Tattersalls; president of Pompano Park; vice president of Horseman Publishing Company, the parent company of The Horseman And Fair World magazine; vice president of the Grand Circuit; director of the Grayson Foundation; and director of the Maxwell Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky.
In 1987 he was voted the Horseman Award by subscribers of The Horseman and Fair World and also honored as Sports Eye'sHorseman of the Year. In 1989 he received the Proximity Award, one of the highest honors presented by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Mr. Cashman is survived by his wife, Nancy: daughters, Susan (John) Coyle, Karen (Bill) Young and sons, John III, Brian (Mary), Robert (Melissa) grandchildren; Kaitlin, Victoria, Bridget, Rives, Michael, Grace, Teddy, Andrew, Brian and Mary; brothers Vincent, Peter and Michael; sisters, Elizabeth, Catherine and Eileen. He was predeceased by his parents and sisters Shelia and Patricia.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame 240 Main Street, Goshen, NY 10924 or the American Cancer Society.