In early summer 2002, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred editor Lucy Acton assigned me a story. “Write a feature on Tom Voss, a real feature. What’s he like? Everybody knows him, but they don’t know that much about him.”
I’m sure I said yes right away, then probably thought about it. I was one of the everybodies. I knew him. I didn’t know that much about him. I was still half-scared of the guy. He rarely returned my phone calls, he grumbled when he talked to me. He was coming off a career run – Grade 1 turf wins with John’s Call, steeplechase training championships and regular visits to the Saratoga winner’s circle (flat and jump).
I called him, told him about the story, went to the farm to watch morning training and get a tour. Though we spent the day together, he barely spoke to me. Then he went to Bethany Beach for a vacation. I wrote the story with only one or two quotes from him, instead relying on his wife Mimi, assistant Todd Wyatt, and a string of friends ranging from Peter Winants to Dottie Kiser.
I never really like what I write, but it turned out pretty well as a character study and was a great lesson. While writing it, I learned Voss’ father died of a stroke as a young man. Voss’ brothers Ned and Jack also died young.
Now, Voss has joined them. He outlived them all, but he still left too soon.
– Joe Clancy
Read our feature story by Joe Clancy from our August 2002 issue here. And in October 2011, Maggie Kimmitt wrote a delightful Pensioner on Parade about Tom Voss's The Looper, which gave another delightful perspective on his trainer. Read it here.