David Hooper, Longtime Racing Official and Executive, Passes

David Elliott Hooper, 88, of Georgetown, Texas, passed away peacefully on Monday after after a long battle with cancer.  As in life, his beloved wife Martha was by his side.

Hooper was born on Jan. 3, 1935, to Raymond and Doris Hooper in East Rutherford, N.J. After attending the United States Naval Academy through an appointment from Congress (1953-56), he completed his studies by graduating from University of Pennsylvania as part of the class of 1961.

After graduating with a degree in International Relations, Hooper began a storied career in the horse racing industry that spanned over 60 years.  He held many regulatory positions, including executive secretary of the Illinois Racing Board, and served as a steward at the state and racetrack levels in eight states. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Pete Pedersen Award from the Racing Officials Accreditation Program, which recognizes professional excellence, integrity, and benevolent consideration in the performance of their duties. Often referred to respectfully as “Judge,”  Hooper was regarded widely as being fair in his stewardship and interactions with fellow horsemen, while prioritizing the ethics of the game and safety of the jockeys.  He retired in 2020, his final position as steward at Canterbury Park in Minnesota.


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Longtime Racing Official Hooper Retires

He headed the Univerity of Arizona Race Track Industry Program in the early 1990s.

Dave Hooper, a longtime racing official and former head of the Texas Thoroughbred Association and University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, is retiring upon the conclusion of the Canterbury Park meet that ends Sept. 17.

Hooper, 85, has served on the Canterbury board of stewards the past eight years, he said, the last six as chief state steward at the Minnesota track. During his time there, he was one of several recipients of the 2018 Pete Pedersen Award, which is presented to stewards who have demonstrated professional excellence and integrity in the performance of their duties.

Hooper worked in the racing industry for approximately 60 years, nearly 30 in a regulatory capacity. He has also worked as an association or state steward in Kentucky, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, and Texas.

He said Canterbury was one of his favorite stops, praising track management and the people of Minnesota.

“I couldn’t have finished at a better place,” he said.

Before wrapping up his career as a regulator, Hooper was appreciated for his contributions as executive director for three breed organizations and one horsemen’s association. He was also a favorite among students at the University of Arizona, where he served as coordinator of the Race Track Industry Program in the early 1990s.

He plans to retire to Georgetown, Texas with his wife of 22 years, Martha.

“We have some bucket-list items we’d like to check off,” he said.