J. Willard Thompson Passes at 83

Colts Neck - J Willard Thompson lost his battle with a long illness on Nov. 3, 2018. He passed away at his home, Quiet Winter Farm, in Colts Neck, NJ, with members of his family at his side. He was 83.

He was born in Atlanta, where he developed a love of horses early in life, leaving home at fifteen years old to become an apprentice jockey at Belmont Park Race Course in New York. It was a passion that would stay with him for the rest of his life, first leading him to a career as a prize-winning steeplechase jockey and later an award-winning American thoroughbred racehorse trainer. He was well-respected for his work ethic and dedication to his sport and the horses he loved. In fact, he was still driving to Monmouth Park Racetrack at 4:30 a.m. daily to bring his employees donuts and coffee and to watch his horses train shortly before his death. 

Mr. Thompson was a fixture at Monmouth Park Racetrack, having won training titles there in 1975, 1977 and 2001, the New Jersey Breeder of the year award in 2013, and the leading owner's title in 2016. He also won training titles at Meadowlands Racetrack in 1980 and '81. In 1996, he became the first recipient of Monmouth Park's Virgil W. Raines Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes dedication to the sport of thoroughbred racing through exemplary conduct, professionalism 
and integrity.

He was also a philanthropist, notably supporting the New Jersey State Police Families of Fallen Officers. He established the Quiet Winter Farm Scholarship Fund, which provided money for education to stable employees in need. He hosted fundraisers to support equine therapy for wounded U.S. veterans. In his later years, he published a novel and dedicated proceeds from it to the Retired Racehorse Project.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Carol, a renowned jumper rider for the United States Equestrian Team. Survivors include his children: Stewart, and his wife, Tomoko; Glenn Thompson; and Julia Dyer, and her husband, Bradley; grandchildren, Mizuki Takata and Wyatt Thompson; J Parker, and his wife, Jovanna, and Makenzie Thompson; Shelby Dyer, Taylor Larsen, Braydn Larsen, and Landon Larsen; and a sister-in-law, Judy Richter. J Parker and Jovanna Thompson will continue Willard and Carol's legacy in caring for Quiet Winter Farm. The family is especially appreciative for the care that Ruthann Thompson gave to Mr. Thompson and for the lifetime friendship of Edwin McCreedy.

Services will be private. A celebration of Mr. Thompson's life will be held in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Retired Racehorse Project, 2976 Solomon's Island Road, Edgewater, MD 21037.