Lexington, KY — Eric Ledford, who drove Chip Chip Hooray to a victory in the 2002 Hambletonian and directed Eternal Camnation to three Breeders Crown championships, died on Thursday (Oct. 14) at the age of 50.
As a youngster, Mr. Ledford first started working for his father, Seldon, at Lebanon Raceway in Ohio before going out on his own at age 18. He began driving regularly in 1990 and captured his first driving title two years later at the fall meet at Lebanon.
Mr. Ledford moved his base to Chicago in 1997 where he competed at Maywood Park and Balmoral, and he also drove at Hoosier Park in Indiana. In 1999 he won 529 races to place him sixth on the national list, with his purse earnings of $4.8 million placing him ninth on that list. As a result of his accomplishments that year, Mr. Ledford was voted the Rising Star of the Year Award winner by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Eternal Camnation was the 1999 Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year and she went on to win three more divisional titles for Mr. Ledford. He celebrated his only Hambletonian victory in 2002 with Chip Chip Hooray. Some of his other major victories came with Tejano in the 2000 World Trotting Derby, Bettor’s Delight in the 2000 Governor’s Cup, and Royal Flush Shark in the 2005 Cane Pace.
Other star horses Mr. Ledford drove in his career include Looking For Art, French Panicure, Dex The Balls, Sagebrush, Musical Dreamer, Roddy’s Bags Again and Restive Hanover.
Over his career, Mr. Ledford drove 5,362 winners with $61,183,597 in earnings. He last drove in 2017.
He is survived by his children, Tyler Ledford, Alexa Ledford, Noah Ledford and Pypar Ledford; his father, Seldon Ledford; the mother of his children (Noah and Alexa), Tonya Ledford; and many other loving family and friends.
Visitation will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 23), at Newcomer Funeral Home, 4104 Needmore Rd., Dayton, Ohio. Funeral services will begin at 1 p.m. Burial will be held at Laurel Point Cemetery in Oneida, Ky., on Sunday (Oct. 24).