A legend in Minnesota racing passed yesterday. Thomas Metzen Sr. died after a long battle with cancer, leaving behind not only grieving family and friends, but the entire Minnesota racing community.
There will be formal obituaries written – and we may get to that too – but honoring Tom with facts and figures and stats and dates is doing him a disservice. It does nothing to bring his smile, his kind words or reassuring pep talk to the people that didn’t know him.
I will always cherish his short Facebook notes. He would write me about an article I wrote or an idea for a story or just to add some background color to a moment. He had input on the whip rule when it was introduced last season, thoughts on the ADW legislation, kind words of support for a trainer getting a raw deal last year and any number of other issues – large and small.
Pulling me aside once in the grandstand after a tough loss and just letting me know that he thought that I was doing a nice job with the Canterbury Racing Club meant a lot and a small act of kindness I’ll never forget.
He would spend time with my wife, Heather, and let her know how much he enjoyed her photos. He’d give her little grandpa-like hugs from time to time that she always appreciated and never failed to put a smile on her face.
Sure, Tom was President of the Minnesota HBPA for as long as anyone can remember and his commitment to racing here was second to none, but that’s what Tom did…not who he was.
He was a gentleman who could be stern in business and soft with friends and family. Up until the end he had a twinkle in his eye and a great laugh. He sold Canterbury hard while wintering in Phoenix not because it would be good for business but because he loved racing here.
When Tom told you that Shakopee was one of the greatest places to be in the summer, he wasn’t trying to make you believe something – he was telling you what he believed with all his heart was true. It wasn’t because Minnesota was home, it was because he loved the racetrack and it’s people. His joy was infectious as was his belief in Canterbury Park and Minnesota horsemen and women.
Yes, we lost a tremendous horseman and advocate yesterday, but we also lost a wonderful, hard-working man who left us all better for having known him.