By Bill Finley
Gary Wolfson, the part-owner of Happy Valley Farm, has passed away after a brief illness. He was 73 and died from a rare form of stomach cancer.
The son of Louis Wolfson, who owned 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed along with his wife, Patrice, Gary Wolfson teamed up with brother Steve and launched Happy Valley Farm in the early seventies. Happy Valley had its best run in the 1980s when, despite having a limited number of horses, it could often be found on the list of leading owners.
The Wolfsons' best horse may have been Prismatical, who won the 1981 GI Alabama S. She also captured the GII Long Look S. and the GII Monmouth Oaks. They also won the GI Test S. in 1988 with Fara's Team, the 1982 GIII Bernard Baruch with Pair of Deuces and a trio of graded stakes with Talakeno.
“It was a magical time for us,” Steve Wolfson said. “The neatest thing was to go to Saratoga and people would see us and say 'There they are, Happy Valley Farm's 1 and 1A.' Gary and I had a great relationship. He will be sorely missed by those who knew him.”
Steve Wolfson said the cancer diagnosis was shocking.
“Gary was one of the healthiest people I knew,” he said. “He walked every day and had a really good lifestyle. No smoking, no drinking, he was a health nut. He called me Apr. 28 and said that he had been having terrible pains. They thought it was a hernia, but it turned out to be cancer. My wife is a Sloan Kettering survivor for 16 years and Gary wanted to know if we could get him into Sloan Kettering. His doctor had diagnosed it as stage 4 cancer in the stomach. We got him into Sloan Kettering, but it was just too late. It all happened so quickly.”
Gary Wolfson was a graduate of Northwestern University and, according to his brother, turned down Harvard because he wanted to study journalism at Northwestern.
Gary Wolfson had been living in California and worked as a consultant with ties to China.
The survivors also include another brother, former trainer Marty Wolfson.