Edward F. Farrell Jr., 86, executive at P.G. racetracks

April 02, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Edward F. Farrell Jr., a former executive at the Marlboro and Bowie racetracks, died Thursday at Manor Care nursing home in Ruxton after an apparent heart attack. The longtime Towson resident was 86.

Mr. Farrell was known for good relations with horse owners and trainers. He instituted fan-friendly racing programs and graded purses, and reached the first written agreement with the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association in 1953.

"His interest was how to make the racing better for the people and the industry," said a son, Richard M. Farrell of Charleston, S.C.

"Ed was the nicest one of them all," said W. Snowden Carter, a racing reporter at The Sun from 1944 to 1961 and editor of Maryland Horse Magazine from 1962 to 1986.

"He survived a lot of crises and always retained a good image," Mr. Carter said. "And nobody ever questioned his integrity. He was sort of above all the ins and outs."

"He was a real nice guy -- knowledgeable and cooperative with the horsemen -- and they loved him more than anybody else," said Charles E. Lamb, racing editor at the News American for 35 years.

Mr. Lamb recalled an incident about 20 years ago in which a horse was entered in a race by mistake -- and won.

"We had so many horses in those days, it was tough to get into a race -- not like today when there's a shortage of horses," Mr. Lamb said.

Although he was not obligated to do so, Mr. Farrell paid two $1,500 first-place awards -- to the horse that won but wasn't eligible and to the eligible horse that finished second.

"He did a great job for Maryland horse racing, although he was in a small pond," said Joseph B. Kelly, a racing writer for The Sun in the 1940s.

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Farrell earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1933 from Villanova University. He spent five years as an investigator for an insurance company and came to Baltimore in 1939 as an insurance salesman.

During World War II, he was a Navy gunner for the Merchant Marine fleet in the Atlantic.

In 1948, he went to work with his father, Edward F. Farrell Sr., and two uncles, John and Joseph Farrell, who had founded the Bowie and Marlboro racetracks in Prince George's County in 1914.

The family sold its interest in Bowie in 1951, and he became vice president at the Marlboro track in Upper Marlboro. In 1953, he became president and general manager at Marlboro.

In 1971, the family sold the now-defunct Marlboro track.

A Mass of Christian burial is to be offered at 10: 30 a.m. today at the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, Baltimore and Ware avenues, Towson.

Survivors include his wife, the former Rose Cahill, whom he married in 1934; another son, Edward F. Farrell III of Baltimore; a daughter, Rosemary Callahan of Rockville; two brothers, Joseph W. Farrell of Baltimore and William P. Farrell of Manchester; and six grandchildren.

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