Longtime Maryland Trainer Ron Cartwright Passes At The Age Of 93

Monday, January 15, 2024

Ronald “Ronnie” C. Cartwright, a Maryland-based trainer who conditioned multiple graded-stakes winners in a long career, passed away peacefully Nov. 11. He was 93.

Cartwright was born in Stockton, England, March 4, 1930. He was the beloved husband of Jane A. Cartwright and stepfather of Robert Curley, Jay Curley (wife Alison) and Todd Curley. He has four grandchildren: Cheyenne, Cole, Sarah and Sam.

Cartwright loved visiting with his grandchildren, caring for his dogs, taking walks, growing tomatoes and birdwatching. He spent most of his life riding, training and breeding Thoroughbreds. His favorite activity was spending time at Laurel Park with the community of people he enjoyed surrounding himself with.

“The racetrack was so important to him throughout his life,” Alison Curley said. “It was his extended family.”

Cartwright, a steeplechase jockey who then trained from the late 1960s through 2005, won almost 700 races and his horses earned more than $13 million (Equibase statistics only run from 1981 to the present). His graded-stakes winners were Mz. Zill Bear, Castelets, Miss Slewpy, Palliser Bay and Mymet.

“I’ve been in this for 60 years and will miss it,” Cartwright said soon after he retired. “It has been a great run. I’ve had a really good life and enjoyed this very much. I had a lot of nice horses and had a good time.”

Maryland-bred Mz. Zill Bear, a winner of more than $740,000, won 15 races, 10 of them stakes. Her two Grade III victories came in the Martha Washington Handicap at Laurel and the Violet Handicap at The Meadowlands. She also won the Maryland Million Ladies three times in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

Castelets, also a Maryland-bred, won 18 races—10 of them stakes—and earned almost $600,000. He won two Grade III stakes: the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National Race Course and the Riggs Handicap at Pimlico Race Course. Cartwright also trained Maryland-bred Miss Slewpy, a 15-time winner who was victorious in the Grade II Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Cartwright was instrumental in the career of trainer Tim Keefe, who began working for him while in college. Keefe galloped horses for Cartwright at Laurel and also assisted him at the farm breaking horses.

“He was always very accommodating with my schedule when I was in college,” Keefe said. “He was just a great guy to work for. And when I went out my own, he sent me horses from some of his big owners to train. One of them was my first stakes winner. He had a lot of good horses, and he really helped start my career as a trainer.”

“Ronnie was a horsemen’s horseman—very old school,” said Maryland breeder and owner Jay Williamson, who retired as a trainer in 1999. “He did it the right way, and he had the right owners. When horses need time off, they got time off. That’s tough to do in today’s environment. He was an all-around good person. Everybody like Ronnie.”

“He was just one of those good old-time trainers,” said Georganne Hale, who was Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary when Cartwright trained. “He was just a good guy and one of the easiest to get along with as a racing secretary. And after he retired, it was nice to see him coming to the track every day to gamble.”

A Celebration of Life for Cartwright will be held at Laurel Park in Tycoon’s on the first floor of the clubhouse Dec. 19 at 11:30 a.m.

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