Bob Quigley was general manager of the Meadowlands Racetrack during the years when the East Rutherford, New Jersey facility earned its reputation as the most important harness track in the world. Just as Roosevelt Raceway had done in the 1950s and 1960s, the Meadowlands revolutionized harness racing and came to symbolize all that was great about the sport in the last quarter of the 20th century.
Bob Quigley was born on March 24, 1929 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and attended the University of North Carolina. He initially became involved in horse racing in 1951 when he was hired as a laborer at Atlantic City Racetrack. He worked as a timekeeper for the maintenance department, as an office manager, controller, in the stall department, and eventually became executive vice president and general manager. In the late 1960s and 1970s, while at Atlantic City, Quigley introduced exacta and trifecta wagering to the sport of horse racing. He held the GM position at Atlantic City from 1968 to 1975, when New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority CEO Sonny Werblin and Executive Director Jack Krumpe offered him the role of general manager of racing at the as-yet unbuilt Meadowlands Racetrack. Quigley accepted the offer and was hired at the age of 46 on September 1, 1975.
Quigley oversaw the construction and early development of the revolutionary Meadowlands, a one-mile track in the shadow of New York City. The Meadowlands soon became the world leader in harness racing while also conducting quality Thoroughbred events. Quigley brought along an unprecedented number of able "lieutenants" to fill the highest ranks of both Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing, and his innovations and insight into the mind of the customer set the tone for racetrack oversight for decades to come. Working with Werblin and Race Secretary Joe DeFrank, Quigley also took advice from many veterans of the sport, while bringing his own distinctive and innovative ideas to establish The Big M at the forefront of world harness racing
From personnel and operations to communications and customer service - not to mention the quality of the racing itself - Quigley and his team established the standard for track operations everywhere. The Meadowlands became a cash cow for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, with many millions of dollars passing through its mutuel windows.
One of Quigley's most unforgettable moments was Meadowlands Pace night on July 18, 1980. While a crowd of 42,000 watched Hall of Fame Immortal Niatross win harness racing's first $1 million race, the Meadowlands handled more than $4 million on track, the most ever for a single night's program. A few weeks later, on August 6, the Meadowlands hosted the $2,011,000 Woodrow Wilson, the first $2 million purse in the history of horse racing.
While at The Big M, Quigley helped pioneer the use of simulcasting at New Jersey racetracks, and he takes great pride in having been part of the negotiating team that brought the Hambletonian Stake to East Rutherford in 1981. After eight years at the Meadowlands, Quigley moved on to build another New Jersey track, Garden State Park, which had not held races since its grandstand burned down in 1977. Quigley served as Garden State Park's president until 1992. He went on to design and construct Retama Park in San Antonio, Texas, where he served as that track's president until his retirement in 1995.
Quigley has served as a director and member of the executive committee of Harness Tracks of America, as a director of the United States Trotting Association, as a member of the Racing Advisory Board of the American Horse Council, as the president of International Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., and as a member of the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of America.
Robert Quigley passed away on February 17, 2020 at the age of 90. He is the father of three children, son Kevin and daughters Kelly and Karen, and five grandchildren. He and his wife Wanda resided in Hallandale Beach, Florida.