Pompano Beach, FL — Longtime Standardbred trainer-driver Donald G. Ratchford, 75, died Aug. 8, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif.
Born in Nova Scotia on Oct. 27, 1943, Mr. Ratchford, affectionately known as Jerry, came to the United States in 1962 with Hall of Famer Joe O’Brien and quickly established himself as a valuable asset to the success of the O’Brien Stable.
In his post-O’Brien years, he worked with top horsemen Jim Dennis, Jack Williams, Bob Williams and Herold Merriam which, he said, “contributed to whatever success I achieved because I learned from all of them.
“While O’Brien didn’t have any lame horses,” he remembered, “Farrington worked with a lot of claimers and was a ‘leg’ man. Like I said, I learned from all of them.”
His involvement in racing included success as a trainer-driver and farm manager. Indeed, he was a partner and operator of the Highland Farm, a breeding and training facility under his care from 1980 to 1994.
Among his success stories were J B Lucas, Armbro Guest, Hilarious Brew, Timeron Hanover, Karen’s Rowdy One, A Little Bit Rowdy and Karen’s Magic One.
Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Anita; son, Jeff (Sandee); daughter, Jaime; grandchildren, Sienna, Marisa, Logan, Never and Benjamin; brothers, Russell, Roy and Joe; and sisters, Donna and Yvonne Perry. He was preceded in death by his son, Mike; parents, Donald and Adeline; brothers, Gus and Harold; and sisters, Catherine and Judy Hanson.
A memorial service will be held Aug. 29 at the Sierra View Mortuary, 6201 Fair Oaks, Carmichael, CA 95864 from 3-5 p.m.