Hadry, highly admired trainer, dies

`Old-class gentleman,' 72, draws words of affection after losing cancer fight

Horse Racing

February 25, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Charles H. Hadry, one of the most beloved and respected horsemen in Maryland, died yesterday morning of cancer at his home in Westminster. He was 72.

At 16, Hadry began working at the Laurel racetrack for Hall of Fame trainer Frank Whiteley Jr. Hadry began training on his own in the 1950s and reached his zenith in 1988 with Private Terms, the favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

He had been ill for about a year, but particularly so in recent weeks. It's almost as if he fought to stay alive until his horse, P Day, could run in the $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap at Laurel Park. The race finally took place Sunday after being snowed out Feb. 16.

Hadry bred and trained the 8-year-old P Day, who was his favorite horse. Hadry's son, Charles J. Hadry, said his father nearly died a couple of times recently, but seemed to hold on for P Day's race.

P Day, however, lost a shoe in the early going and finished seventh. The younger Hadry, who had assumed his father's duties at the barn, visited him at home after the race. His father, he said, seemed to take the loss better than he did.

"I really thought he was going to win," said the son, 35. "Man, I wanted him to win. But my dad always told me you don't win them all; you've got to persevere over certain situations. It's like he was talking to me about what's happening now.

"I'm going to miss him. I really am. He was everything to me - to all of us, really. He was just a special person God put on this earth. He was one of a kind."

No matter whom you spoke to about Hadry, the response was the same.

"He definitely was the classiest, nicest man in the world," said Georganne Hale, racing secretary for the Maryland Jockey Club. "He was one of the old-class gentlemen."

Said Ron Benshoff, a fellow trainer to whom Hadry brought vegetables from his garden: "I don't think people could respect anyone more than they respected him. Everybody just loved him so much.

"I've never heard anybody in my life say one bad thing about Charlie Hadry. He was just a good, honest person. Anybody who went to him for a favor got it. He never hurt anybody."

Hadry's best horse was Private Terms, who won his first seven races and then started in the Kentucky Derby of 1988 as the favorite. But like P Day, his son, in the Campbell, Private Terms ran into trouble. He apparently bled from the lungs, and he finished ninth.

Private Terms won 12 of 17 races and earned $1.2 million. His biggest wins were the Gotham Stakes, Wood Memorial Stakes and Massachusetts Handicap.

Hadry trained Private Terms for the parents of Stuart S. Janney III, who lives in Butler. Janney has sent his own horses to Hadry since the late 1980s.

For a story about Hadry last month in The Sun, Janney said: "Charlie's an old-fashioned horseman. He's taciturn to some extent, but when you get to know him he's one of the most wonderful people in the world.

"I have always felt Charlie was one of the most beloved people around the racetrack. People have a special place in their hearts and minds for Charlie. The reason is he's a genuinely nice and good person."

And he was tough, so tough that he endured great pain while persevering against the disease longer than anyone had expected.

"He put up a hell of a fight," said Charles, his son. "He didn't want to go. But finally, it was his time."

Hadry is survived by his wife of 38 years, Connie; two daughters, Robin Jackson of Greensboro, N.C., and Tyra Hadry, of Westminster; three sons, David Hadry of Virginia Beach., Va., Jeffrey Hadry of Cascade, Md. and Charles J. Hadry, of Jessup; a sister, Helen Thurston of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; a brother, Merrill Hadry of Havre de Grace; and by 10 grandchildren and five nieces and nephews.

Services will take place at Pritts Funeral Home and Chapel, 412 Washington Road in Westminster. Viewings will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Immediately after the second viewing, at 8 p.m., a memorial service and funeral will commence.

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