Rick Violette passed away on Sunday from cancer. He was a long-time trainer in New England and New York, and a recent president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
He trained some top-notch horses – most recently Diversify – but his impact reached far beyond his activities at the barn. He was a passionate advocate for the trainers and owners both nationally and in New York.
I attended many of the meetings of the New York Racing Association’s Board (back in the day when they were open). Rick was a unique and – too often – solitary voice who was committed to the trainers and owners as well as New York racing. He was smart, knowledgeable about recent history in the state, tough and practical. He was approachable, funny and someone who fully gave of his time even with all his other responsibilities.
Trainers and owners may have been his “official constituency,” but he also chaired the Jockey Injury Compensation Fund. Under his leadership at the Horsemen’s Association, programs for the aftercare of thoroughbreds were created. NYTHA also funded programs for backstretch grooms and hot walkers who were not in the limelight, but essential to the health of the horse and the industry.
We too often fail to express our thoughts about someone while they are alive. Rick is the very embodiment of all that is good about the people in the racing industry. I do not think I can say it any better than Charles Hayward, former President of NYRA, expressed it here.