Virginia Harness Horseman Terry Kibler, Who Passed Away November 26th, Is Remembered

Long time Woodstock, Virginia business owner and avid harness horseman Terry Lee Kibler passed away November 26th at the age of 60 and was laid to rest this past weekend at Massanutten Cemetery. A graduate of Virginia Tech in 1980, Mister Kibler owned a furniture store in Woodstock for more than 30 years. He was Past President and a current Board member of the Shenandoah County Fair Association as well as long time Racing Secretary of the Fair race meet.

Kibler took over as Racing Secretary of the County Fair meet in 1987 after his father, who previously served in that position, passed away. Kibler was appointed to the Fair Board of Directors the same year and had been the longest tenured Board member before he died last week. “He was the mainstay that kept harness racing at the County Fair alive all these years,” said Board member Wilson Ryman. “Terry was instrumental in helping lure the Shenandoah Downs pari-mutuel meet to the Fairgrounds as well.”

Terry Kibler’s Calcutta wins at Shenandoah Downs on October 8th. It the first of three trainer/driver Betsy Brown had on the card. Photo by Dee Leftwich.

“Terry got involved in every aspect of racing you can think of,” said Woodstock based trainer Betsy Brown, who trained and co-owned horses with Kibler. “Over the decades, he’s probably worked with hundreds of horses. He’s definitely not a stay at home owner either. If someone needed a hand to help paddock a horse, jog a horse, tack a shoe on or anything else, Terry was there to help. Everyone spoke highly of him,” she added. “He was an honest and fair man. When Terry got a bill, there was a check in the mail the next day.”

This fall, Kibler and Brown had seven different horses compete in Woodstock. Besides Calcutta, BP Burner, Uncle Ike and Believe In Him each won a race. TLK Caleb, Thelordismyshepard and Trot Away Marvin ran multiple times. Uncle Ike also finished second in the Virginia Breeder’s Three-Year-Old Colt Trotting Championship.

Betsy Brown leads Calcutta into his horse trailer after collecting a win and second place finish in the August 3st fair races.

Among the best horses he owned were Farmer Jones and Calcutta. The former, a Credit Winner gelding trotter, competed from 2004 – 2014, made 193 starts and earned $369,199. He was acquired by Kibler and his partners, Marvin Sigler and Pamela Wagner, for $16,000 as a weanling. In 2005, Farmer Jones and ’05 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo swapped track and world records within a day of each other at Colonial Downs. As a three year old that fall, Farmer Jones set the Colonial mark for sophomore gelding trotters with a 1:53 4/5 effort in a Breeder’s prep race. A week later, Roger Hammer’s Vivid Photo shattered the time in a race that went in 1:52 3/5 but the very next day, Farmer Jones reclaimed the speed mark with a 1:52 2/5 clocking in a Breeder’s Championship race. The following year, Kibler’s trotter set a track and world record for four-year-old gelding trotters with a 1:53.0 time at the New Kent track.

Shenandoah Downs is shown here, near the top of the stretch, when renovations first began in 2016.

Calcutta, a 9 year old Tom Ridge trotting mare, still races and has competed often at both the County Fair and Shenandoah Downs meets the past several years. She has bankrolled $212,768 and has 22 wins from 126 starts. In 2015, Calcutta equaled the aged mare trotting record of 1:55 4/5 at Rosecroft Raceway. Just eight weeks ago, Calcutta captured her most recent win at Shenandoah Downs with Betsy Brown in the bike. In eight combined starts this fall at both meets, Calcutta finished third or better in each. Brown, who got to know Kibler in 1990 while working for John Wagner, said “Calcutta was the nicest two year old I’ve ever trained.” Scott Woogen, president of the Virginia Harness Horse Association (VHHA) recalled Calcutta was the fastest two year old in the country for a period of time.

ENS Bondsman was another horse owned by the Kibler-Sigler partnership. The Manley Brown trainee won the Maryland Sire Stake Final for 3 year old colt/gelding trotters in 2004. In all, ENS Bondsman won $112,497 from 23 career starts. He had 12 wins and a pair of seconds. His lifetime mark of 1:58 1/5 came at Colonial Downs.

Kibler was born in nearby Winchester and showed animals at the Shenandoah County since he was ten years old. After the 2014 Shenandoah County Fair, he talked about the harness racing vibe in Woodstock. “It’s always a ton of fun to listen to the crowd here when the field turns for home. The roar is just exhilarating.”