Stephanie Nixon, long time Board member of both the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, has been appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to serve on the Virginia Racing Commission effective November 2nd. She will replace the vacant Commissioner’s seat previously held by Dr. Charles Steger, who passed away on May 6th.
Nixon owns Horseshoe Hill Farm in Ashland where she has broke, owned, bred and raised horses for all of her adult life. At the age of one, her father purchased a cabin in Ashland from a doctor friend and moved the family from the City of Richmond a bit farther north. After relocating, he soon caught the racing bug from another friend — Howard Gentry, who at the time was Farm Manager of the The Meadow Farm in Caroline County. That bug, or passion, was passed on to his daughter.
“When I was growing up and one of our horses won, I wanted to hear the race call,” said Nixon. “Since this was before ADW companies or even OTBs, the only option was to call a 900 number where you could hear the race replay at the cost of a dollar per minute. Well, I didn’t want to hear the race call just once,” she added. “I wanted to hear it over and over. Whenever the phone bill came and there was an extra $15 or $20 charge, my father would call me out on it.”
In her adult life, Nixon has had success in all facets of racing. As a trainer, her horses have made 391 starts, have won 38 times and have bankrolled $670,144. She was the trainer of Action Andy when he won the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Colonial Downs in 2011. She’s had multiple winners at the New Kent track with horses like Baton On Fire, Bella Principessa and Saintly Love but if she had to pick one, her favorite would probably be Boltin’ Out.
The Outflanker gelding was bred by John Tucker and owned by his wife Ann, and won five races at Colonial Downs between 2012 and 2013 including the Punch Line Stakes. “Training Boltin’ Out for great people like the Tucker’s and getting those wins in Virginia was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done in the business,” said Nixon.
When asked what the best part has been from her various equine experiences, she did not hesitate. “There’s nothing like seeing a horse you train cross the finish line first. That’s quite a rush. But breaking horses for clients like the Mobberley family in Maryland is just as satisfying. Those business relationships grow into lifetime friendships.”
Away from the track and barn, Nixon has spent the better part of two decades on the Boards of both the VTA and HBPA representing thoroughbred owners and trainers. She was involved in contract negotiations with the former Colonial Downs owner and has helped forge new relationships with the current ownership group.
While serving as a Commissioner, Nixon will no longer be able to own or train horses that race at Colonial Downs. “This is something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time,” she said. “With my background, I think I can be of benefit to the industry here, especially in these exciting times. It’s great to see a company putting energy and financial resources into Virginia racing. The possibilities now are endless. I didn’t think we’d ever be in this position.”