Maryland stalwart Robert T. Manfuso passes at age 82

Robert T. Manfuso, a longtime Maryland owner and breeder who at one time owned a share of two Maryland Jockey Club racetracks, died of natural causes at his home the evening of March 19. He was 82.

Manfuso, who co-owned and operated Chanceland Farm in West Friendship, Md., with his partner, trainer Katy Voss, was a member of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association Board of Directors and was a tireless advocate for Thoroughbred owners. One of his objectives was improving the owner experience at Maryland racetracks, and he also was instrumental in the rebound of the Maryland breeding industry in recent years.

Manfuso's father, John, was a founder of the Maryland Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which eventually became the MTHA. His brother, Tom, was also very active in the state's racing industry.

Manfuso became involved in racing operations when he and his brother, in partnership with Frank J. De Francis, purchased Laurel Park and then Pimlico Race Course. He was active in the operation of the two tracks until 1990 and is credited as part of an endeavor that helped revitalized the industry in Maryland at that time. Manfuso enjoyed reflecting on that period and his involvement with the racetrack operation side of the industry.

On the national stage, Manfuso was a vice president of Breeders' Cup and, as Chairman of the Racing and Nominations Committee, implemented important changes to the nomination process in 2006. Manfuso also was a longtime member of the Thoroughbred Charities of America Board of Directors and also served as a director of Pinnacle Entertainment when it owned Hollywood Park in California.

Manfuso, a multiple graded stakes-winning owner, owned horses alone and in numerous partnerships. Among the graded stakes winners he bred were Wood So, Admirallus, Royal Haven, Belterra, Wiseman's Ferry, Court Folly, Gotta Have Her and Island Bound. Manfuso also bred the filly Cathryn Sophia, an eventual Kentucky Oaks winner and earner of $1.22 million.

Manfuso was on hand for this year's Renaissance Awards dinner at which the champion Maryland-bred horses of 2019 were honored. The champion 3-year-old filly, Las Setas, was bred by Manfuso and Voss and co-owned by Manfuso, Voss and Wayne Harrison. Manfuso and Voss also bred Cordmaker, a full brother to Las Setas who was voted champion older male.

Harrison, Manfuso and Voss also won the 2018 Maryland Million Classic with Saratoga Bob, who was bred by Manfuso and Voss.

Information on services will be released at a later date.

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