Fred White Jr., a well-known harness racing owner, driver and trainer, died Friday night after a three-car crash in the Town of Holland.
White, 47, of Holland, a fixture at Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway for years, was driving south on Route 16 when his car was struck head-on by a northbound vehicle.
White was pronounced dead on arrival at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo. Five other people, including three teenagers, were injured, but none of the injuries was life threatening. Police said slippery roads are believed to have caused the accident.
"This sport lost a gentleman," Joe Zambito, director of racing at Batavia Downs, said Saturday. "Fred was a real horseman. He was at the barn every day. He had a passion for the sport."
In memory of White, Batavia Downs flew its flag at half-staff and observed a moment of silence Saturday.
In 1990, White gained recognition when one of his horses, He's Discreet, won the $190,000 Hopeful Pace, Buffalo Raceway's premier race and at the time the second-richest race in the Hamburg track's history.
A month later, He's Discreet won a $19,000 New York Sire Stakes mile at Batavia Downs and set two track records for 2-year-old horses.
The two wins came just months after White took over the training for the Rob Rankin stable in Orchard Park after Rankin had died in a car accident in New Jersey.
"Like a lot of horsemen, he had a lot to complain about, but he never did," said Zambito. "We saw each other every day, and he was one of those guys who was always ready to help."
White, who was alone in his car, was struck head on by a car driven by Lisa Thompson, 34, of South Wales, authorities said. She and three teenagers, two of them her children, were injured. The names of the children were not available.
Thompson's vehicle was struck by a third southbound vehicle driven by Francis Hayes, 39, of North Tonawanda. Hayes and his wife, Sara, 35, suffered minor injuries. The accident remains under investigation.