Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Fred W. Hooper, September 1, 1973

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:05 - Getting started in horse breeding and racing

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Partial Transcript: You know, you get, get going along sometimes you just don't--

Segment Synopsis: Hooper talks briefly about his relationship with his trainers before he recounts getting into the racing business, including going to the Keeneland sale and buying Hoop Jr. there. He discusses deciding that he wanted to buy mares and get into breeding.

Keywords: Breeding; Cattle; Flagler Beach; Flagler County (Fla.); Hoop Jr. (Race horse); Olympia (Race horse); Racing; Royal Prince (Race horse); Sir Gallahad (Race horse); Trainers; Tropical Park

Subjects: Horse racing; Horses--Breeding; Keeneland (Lexington, Ky.); Quarter horse

GPS: Keeneland (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.046036, -84.609103
00:07:53 - Alabama horse farm

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Partial Transcript: Well did you have your horses in Alabama for a while?

Segment Synopsis: Hooper talks about moving to Alabama in 1966 and raising horses there. He compares this to raising horses in Illinois. He discusses clearing the farmland when he moved to Alabama.

Keywords: Alabama; Clay; Farmland; Illinois; Limestone; Pine; Timber

Subjects: Horse farms; Horses--Breeding

00:15:50 - The Alabama horse breeding industry / Personal breeding philosophy

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Partial Transcript: Well, uh, you've gotten involved in the Breeder's Association and so forth. Do you think that the industry here is going in the, the direction it should?

Segment Synopsis: Hooper discusses the horse breeding industry in Alabama. He says that the Alabama breeding industry is smaller than that in Kentucky, but that they are growing. He says that some breeders aren't particular enough about bloodlines when breeding. His own philosophy is that this is very important, and he talks about some specific studs and mares he has bred.

Keywords: Alabama; Bloodlines; Horse Breeder's Association; Kentucky; Olympia (Race horse); Roman Goddess (Race horse); Stallion shares; Studs

Subjects: Horse industry; Mares

00:23:09 - Racing and breeding Susan's Girl (Race horse)

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Partial Transcript: Which of your horses do you think is, is the best?

Segment Synopsis: Hooper talks about Susan's Girl, upcoming races he plans to race her in, and what stud he might breed her to next. He continues to talk about breeding other studs and mares as well.

Keywords: Keeneland; Matchmaker Stakes; Susan's Girl (Race horse)

Subjects: Horse racing; Horses--Breeding

00:27:42 - Buying horses from outside the U.S.

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Partial Transcript: Well how did you come up with, uh--I know this is similar with what you've done before, taking horses from foreign...

Segment Synopsis: Hooper talks about buying several specific horses from outside the U.S.

Keywords: International; Sales; United States

Subjects: Horse racing

00:30:58 - Moving to Ocala (Fla.) / Treatment of horses

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Partial Transcript: Did you, uh, did you keep your property in Alabama?

Segment Synopsis: Hooper talks about moving to Ocala, Florida. He talks about buying the best feed possible for his horses and about not allowing abuse of horses.

Keywords: Animal abuse; Animal treatment; Carl G. Rose; Ocala (Fla.)

Subjects: Animal welfare; Florida; Horse farms

00:34:34 - Growing up in Georgia / Early occupations

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Partial Transcript: Well you grew up on a farm, is that right?

Segment Synopsis: Hooper remembers growing up on a cotton farm in Georgia and buying and breaking wild horses for the farm when he was young. He talks about buying some condemned horses from the Atlanta area and selling them to his uncle for farm work. He talks about working as a barber, and then as a carpenter, then foreman, then steel worker at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He remembers buying land for timber in Georgia.

Keywords: Barbers; Carpenters; Cotton; Georgia; Lumber; Muscle Shoals (Ala.); Steel; Timber

Subjects: Employment; Family farms; Horses

00:44:35 - Being asked to teach

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Partial Transcript: I had taken the examination for a teacher's license...

Segment Synopsis: Hooper remembers being asked to take over teaching at the local schoolhouse when the previous teacher quit. He talks about having two school periods that corresponded with the growing season. He laughs about using a hickory switch on his brother in class and never having any trouble with his students again after that.

Keywords: Brothers; Hickory switches; Teaching

Subjects: Rural schools; School discipline; Teachers

00:47:36 - Getting into the construction business via a railroad contract

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Partial Transcript: While, uh, you were teaching, uh, someone else was operating the sawmill?

Segment Synopsis: Hooper talks about running his sawmill as well during the period when he was teaching. He remembers leaving Georgia after his mother died and moving to Florida for three years to grow potatoes and cabbage. A fungus developed on his potatoes and killed his whole crop, which led him to borrow money and put in a bid for an East Coast Railroad project despite having no formal training. He recounts putting down a sample section of railroad and getting the contract, which he calls an unbelievable start to his thirty-six-year construction career.

Keywords: Construction; East Coast Railroad; Flagler County (Fla.); Florida East Coast Railway; Potato blight; Potato fungus; Potatoes; Sawmills

Subjects: Crops; Florida; Railroads

00:59:10 - Owner's organization involvement

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Partial Transcript: Well, when you got into racing, um, I assume it didn't take a lot of your time at first, but then, these associations and so forth, how is it that you got involved with those? Did you see things in racing that you thought needed correcting?

Segment Synopsis: Hooper talks about forming an owner's organization and his years as the president of that. He says that the owners are often the people who "don't get a fair shake" in the industry because they have money but no knowledge of horses and thus can be taken advantage of.

Keywords: "Fair shake"; Horse owners; Owner's organization

Subjects: Horse racing

01:02:58 - Farm laborers, women laborers and jockeys, and South American jockeys

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Partial Transcript: Have you been able to, uh, to, uh, have a pretty satisfactory labor situation here on the farm?

Segment Synopsis: Hooper talks about bringing his farm laborers from Alabama to Florida with him and the twenty some trailers they live in on the property. Hooper says he prefers laborers who don't have previous experience on the race track. He talks about two women who wanted to come work for him and about how he thinks they are easier on and better with the horses. He says that no, he hasn't had any "girl" jockeys, but that Robyn Smith rides pretty good and "doesn't back off." He plans to give one of his women workers who wants to race for him a chance to do so soon. He ends by talking about how he began working with jockeys from South America.

Keywords: Hispanic jockeys; Latin America; Latin American jockeys; Robyn Smith; South America; South American jockeys; Women jockeys

Subjects: Horse farms--Laborers; Jockeys; Latin Americans--United States; Women in horse sports; Women--Employment.