Barbara Hunter, a long-time breeder and owner of Thoroughbreds, passed away at her Brownwood Farm, Nicholasville, Ky., on Nov. 8, after a long illness.
Hunter was born on Sept.13, 1934 in Chicago and was raised by her adoptive mother, Mary Hunter, on a cattle ranch in Montana. She became fond of horses at an early age, and she and her mother moved to Kentucky in 1952 after Barbara had graduated from Ferry Hall Prep School and the University of Maryland.
The decision to purchase Brownwood Farm was influenced by noted horseman Hal Price Headley, whose plantation in Georgia was a neighbor of Mary Hunter’s Tarva Plantation.
The hallmark of Barbara Hunter’s breeding operation was utilizing female families, which she bought into and then developed over succeeding generations. One of her earliest purchases was Kootenai, which she bought privately from Jonabell Farm and raced in her own at a time her mother had horses racing in a separate division.
Hunter like to give her horses names of Montana locales or landscapes, and Kootenai was named for a lake in that state. She won four major stakes in Chicago in 1961 and 1962, launching a long association between Hunter and trainer Stanley Reiser and his son Steve.
Kootenai was an arch example of a race mare seguing into a productive broodmare for Brownwood Farm. Her daughters included Salmon Lake, whose descendants are still winning stakes races. They include the 2012 dual stakes winner Snow Top Mountain, a great- granddaughter. Salmon Lake similarly is the great-granddam of Keertana, whose half-dozen stakes wins included the 2011 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland and the Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs. Keertana, trained for Hunter by Tom Proctor, also placed in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and earned more than $1 million.
Another notable producing family acquired early in Hunter’s career was Missoula, which became the dam of Pattee Canyon. The latter won 18 of 37 starts, including six stakes, and earned $395,871 for Miss Hunter. She earned Hunter a Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders Association Governor’s Award for 1970. Missoula also was the dam of the 1964 Oaks Prep winner Silver Dollar.
Miss Hunter tended to sell her yearling colts and keep fillies to race and later replenish her broodmare band. One of the major colts bred and sold was Poleax, which won several of California’s most important races, including the Hollywood Derby and American Handicap.
Hunter is survived by Rukin Jelks II, whose father was married to her mother, and by three nephews and 10 grand-nieces and nephews.