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Friday, August 12, 2016

Tom Metzen Sr. of National, Arizona and Minnesota HBPAs Passes Away

Tom Metzen Sr., a tireless worker for horsemen in Arizona, Minnesota and across the country, passed away on August 10. At the time of his passing, Metzen was First Vice President and Central Region Vice President for the National HBPA, President of the Minnesota HBPA and Executive Director of the Arizona HBPA.

“The entire horse racing industry has lost one of its biggest fans and one of its most vocal advocates,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. “To know Tom was to know his heart and thus his passion for the horse and his love of our industry. His tireless efforts toward promoting racing, advocating for horsemen and supporting backside programs will be sorely missed and may likely never be matched. I am honored to have known Tom and even more proud to have worked alongside him.”

Metzen was a member of the Canterbury Hall of Fame, and he enjoyed great success at the Minnesota track as an owner. He campaigned three horses to win Horse of the Year titles at Canterbury: Shot of Gold, Prime Step and Chisholm.

“We owe Tom a great debt of gratitude, as his contributions to making Canterbury Park and the Minnesota horse racing industry what they are today are unmatched,” said Canterbury President and CEO Randy Sampson. “I am personally grateful for the friendship and partnership I have been fortunate to share with Tom for the past 25-plus years. We didn’t always agree, but one thing we did always agree on is that we can accomplish a lot more when the track and horsemen work together. With Tom’s leadership of the HBPA, Canterbury Park and our horsemen became the model for how to work together to achieve success.”

His service to the Minnesota racing industry also included time as chairman of the Minnesota Racing Commission and president of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association. Among his accomplishments in Minnesota, Metzen was instrumental in the establishment of the Claiming Crown at Canterbury. The event for blue-collar claiming horses debuted in Minnesota in 1999 and has been held there 10 times, most recently in 2010.

On a national level, he served on numerous committees for the NHBPA, including budget and dues, The Horsemen’s Journal, insurance and public relations. He also served on the NHBPA’s Executive Committee and chaired the organization’s National Assistance Committee.

In 2007, Tom received the National Industry Service Award. This award is the premier award of the National HBPA given in recognition of dedication, service and leadership to the horse racing industry.

“Tom was my mentor and my good friend,” said National HBPA President Leroy Gessmann. “He will be missed by all the horsemen and horsewomen he worked so hard for, not only in Minnesota and Arizona but all across the county. Whenever I had an issue I was struggling with, Tom was always there to help me out. As chairman of the National Assistance Committee, he went out of his way to help fellow horsemen and horsewomen in need. Tom will be missed by all.”

“Tom was a great family man, horseman and my friend for over 10 years and he will surely be missed,” said Arizona HBPA President J. Lloyd Yother. “Tom spent tireless hours working to protect and improve the interests of Arizona horsemen and horsewomen. He was instrumental in getting advance deposit wagering legislation here as well as getting added money for Arizona breeders in open races and funds for Arizona breeders awards. When there was a benefit or someone in need, Tom and his wife Karen were always there to support the cause.”

Tom was preceded in death by son Thomas Jr. and brother Jim. He is survived by loving wife of 56 years Karen; children Tim and Kathy (Tim) Machacek; grandchildren Nick (Tamara), Laura (Carl), Travis (Kayelynn), Luke (Shahara), Kayla, Adam and Allison; great-grandchildren Mya, Ava, Colton and Cooper; brother David (Leslie); sister-in-law Sandie Metzen. He is also survived by many nieces & nephews.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, August 16, at 11:30 a.m. at St. James Lutheran Church located at 460 W. Annapolis St. in West St. Paul, Minnesota. Family will greet friends on Monday, August 15, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Kandt and Tetrick Funeral Home at 140 8th Avenue North in South St. Paul and will greet friends on Tuesday one hour before service at church. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to SSP Educational Foundation.

For more details on the memorial, go to

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