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HALL OF FAMER ROBERT QUIGLEY PASSES

Bob Quigley, a former racetrack executive in New Jersey and Texas, a horse owner and a member of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, died Monday, February 17 in Florida of natural causes. He was 90.

Quigley, a native of Atlantic City, N.J., worked his way from a low-level employee in 1951 to the position of vice president and general manager of Atlantic City Race Course. He was GM at Atlantic City from 1968 to 1975 when he was tabbed by Sonny Werblin, CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, to become the general manger at the yet-to-be-built Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford.

Quigley oversaw the construction and development of The Meadowlands, which became a leader in Standardbred racing while also conducting a fall Thoroughbred meet. With Quigley at the helm, the Meadowlands offered harness racing’s first $1 million race, the Meadowlands Pace, which was won by Niatross on July 18, 1980. Three weeks later, The Meadowlands ran the $2,011,000 Woodrow Wilson, the first $2 million race in the history of horse racing. Quigley helped bring the Hambletonian to The Meadowlands in 1981.

After eight years at The Meadowlands, Quigley was hired by businessman Robert Brennan to be the president of Garden State Park, a track Brennan was rebuilding after a fire destroyed the grandstand in 1977. Garden State Park opened on April 1, 1985. Quigley served as Garden State president until 1992 when he moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he saw the construction of and served as the president of Retama Park until he retired in 1995.

Quigley served as a director and member of the executive committee of Harness Tracks of America, and a director of the United States Trotting Association. He was inducted into the Harness Hall of Fame in 2013.

Rich Orbann, who worked with Quigley at Atlantic City and Garden State, said Quigley was a father figure for him.

“I don’t know that Bob had an enemy,” said Orbann, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla. “In the horse racing industry, I don’t know that there’s anybody else I can say that about. Bob was just a great guy. For me, personally, he was like a father to me.”

Orbann said he remembered the day he had to call Quigley to let him know he wouldn’t be going with him to Retama as had been discussed.

“He said, 'Richard, I certainly hope you have made the correct choice for yourself,’" said Orbann, who eventually became a racing executive with Penn Gaming before retiring in 2005. “I’ve been in tears all day, this has really hit me. I’ve never had anyone support me like Bob did.”

Orbann said that Quigley’s wife, Wanda, was by Quigley’s side when he was pronounced dead at Aventura Hospital in South Florida.

In retirement, Quigley owned horses and his recent winners included Most Happy Fella and High Jingo, the latter a New York-bred who won a race last August at Saratoga and who, on Jan. 29, finished third in a claiming race at Gulfstream. Quigley’s trainer was Jason Servis.

In addition to his wife Wanda, Quigley is survived by son Kevin and daughters Kelly and Karen. Quigley has five grandchildren.

 

 - Daily Racing Form obituary