Dusk at Monmouth Park. Photo by The Racing Biz.

John Forbes, a longtime trainer and president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, passed away on Sunday at age 73.

Born in Maryland, Forbes spent his entire career in the racing industry, following both of his parents into the training game.  He moved his operations to New Jersey in the late 1970s and has been a Garden State mainstay ever since.

“John was New Jersey racing,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park Racetrack.  “He was a tireless advocate for the industry, for the horsemen and for Monmouth Park.

“With a boundless capacity for kindness, John embodied everything good about this business – honor, integrity, compassion and selflessness.  More than that, John had an infectious energy for racing.  I will forever cherish our many years working together and appreciate not just our friendship but our collective effort on behalf of the horsemen to better this industry and the lives of those who work in it.”

From more than 14,000 starters, Forbes won over 2,100 races as a trainer.  Among his long list of accomplished runners were graded stakes winners Peanut Butter Onit, Pukka Princess, Jess C’s Whirl, Boyce, Amarillo, Get Serious and Tale of the Cat, who went on to be a leading sire.

Forbes gave up training on a daily basis in 2012, but was certainly no stranger to the Monmouth Park grounds.  That year he embarked on a new project, Bluegrass Mini Golf, which he oversaw the construction and operation and was instrumental in delivering the US Mini Golf Open in 2014 and again in 2017.  His work earned him a spot in the US ProMiniGolf Hall of Fame.

Upon giving up his trainer’s license in 2012, Forbes turned the operation over to his longtime assistant Pat McBurney.

“John and I spent decades together experiencing all the highs and lows that this business has to offer,” McBurney said.  “It was always a team effort with John.  Even after he stopped training on a day-to-day basis he was equally involved as an owner, advisor and most importantly a friend.  It’s hard to imagine Monmouth Park without John, but Monmouth Park will forever be better because of John.”

Forbes leaves behind his wife Vicki, son John T. Forbes (Director of Operations at Monmouth Park), two daughters, Anne and Carrie, and two grandchildren. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no services will be held.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Forbes’s name to the Backstretch Community Assistance Program (BCAP), whose address is 175 Oceanport Ave., Oceanport, NJ  07757.  BCAP assists New Jersey horse racing stable employees in the areas of counseling, health, education, recreation and benevolence.