Mohr, trainer at Pimlico for six decades, dead at 88

His knowledge of history, lore of racing ran deep

Horse Racing

December 18, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

George Mohr, who trained horses at Pimlico for 60 years and became an unofficial racing and Preakness historian, died one week ago at the age of 88.

After living within walking distance or a short streetcar ride from Pimlico all his life, he became a resident in 2000 of Manor Care nursing home in Towson. Mohr died at Greater Baltimore Medical Center after breaking a hip.

"I will think of him in his barn at Pimlico with all his beloved horses and friends, because I know that's where he'd choose to be for eternity," said Ann Taylor, a friend and former Maryland Jockey Club publicity director.

Taylor often called upon Mohr to answer questions and speak with reporters about everything from racing trivia to its biggest events, such as the Seabiscuit-War Admiral match race in 1938 at Pimlico, which Mohr witnessed.

"He was so willing to help, and his recall was fathom-less," Taylor said. "He knew everything that happened that was important to remember - all his life. He never forgot anything."

Mohr attended his first Preakness at 8; the filly Nellie Norse won. By the time he was 20, he was training thoroughbreds. He saddled his first winner in 1935 at Timonium.

Mohr's best horse was Royal Prince, an early favorite for the Kentucky Derby in 1945 before breaking a foot. His most famous horse was Irish Course, the 2-year-old filly immortalized in a 1968, award-winning photograph by the late Jerry Frutkoff of her sitting down in the starting gate at Laurel. Life magazine gave the photo a full page.

After retiring in 1995, Mohr said: "If I had to do it over again, I'd do it the same way. I love horses. I went 57 Christmases in a row to my horses at the track."

Mohr could explain the background of Billy Barton, the little-known horse that stands in bronze outside the grandstand entrance at Laurel Park, and he could recount the 1927 Pimlico Futurity in which rough-riding Earl Sande and his mount, Bateau, bumped Reigh Count so viciously that guards escorted Sande, still in his silks, away.

Mohr said the best horse he saw was Equipoise, winner of the 1930 Laurel Futurity after charging from far back in the slop.

"And there's nobody around today who's heard of Equipoise," Mohr said three years ago. "I'll bet you there's not too many that know all this stuff."

Mohr's only living relative, Dolores Anderson, his sister-in-law, lives in Parkville. Mohr will be buried at 10 a.m. tomorrow after a graveside service at Lorraine Park Cemetery in Woodlawn.

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