Former Virginia Thoroughbred Association Executive Director Glenn Petty Passes Away

We are very saddened to report that former VTA Executive Director, Glenn Petty, passed away on May 11. Over the years, Mr. Petty served three separate terms as Executive Director of the VTA. He was instrumental in getting pari-mutuel legislation passed in the 1990’s which ultimately led to Colonial Downs ‘ opening in 1997. Mr. Petty was involved in promoting many other racing & breeding initiatives which were helpful to horsemen in Virginia and are still in use today. Through his countless efforts, Mr. Petty left the VTA and the local racing industry at a point where growth was possible to get to where it is now — thriving with an even brighter future.

Our condolences go out to Mr. Petty’s family and friends. Here is his obituary that appeared

Glenn Douglas Petty, 65, of Warrenton, passed away May 11, 2022, at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, after complications of the treatment of lymphoma.

A service and celebration of his life will be held at Saint James’ Episcopal Church, where he was a member, at 73 Culpeper Street, Warrenton, on Friday, May 20, at 2 p.m., with The Rev. Benjamin Maas officiating.

Glenn was born in Patagonia, Arizona, to Col. Floyd Ernest Petty and Mary Ann Petty. His father’s career in the U.S. Army had Glenn’s early years spent in Arizona, Germany, New Jersey and Fairfax, Virginia. The family settled in Markham, in 1966, on Gibraltar Farm. Glenn joined his older sister Gail in horseback riding and show jumping, guided by his mother’s involvement in the sport. For Glenn, it led to a lifelong love of the horse industry.

He graduated from Fauquier High School in 1975 and from James Madison University in 1980 with a degree in journalism. After serving as horse sports editor of the Fauquier Times Democrat, Glenn continued to follow his passion serving many impactful roles in the Virginia thoroughbred industry. In his decades long career, he spearheaded the Virginia Thoroughbred Association with three separate terms as Executive Director, playing an integral role in the industry’s efforts to bring parimutuel wagering to the Commonwealth and the formation of the Virginia Breeders Fund.

He also served as a senior advisor to the Maryland Jockey Club during the development and opening years of Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent, Virginia. Prior to his work at the VTA, Glenn played a key role at EMO Insurance with Ernie Oare, serving as Operations Director where he was instrumental in the formation of racing, breeding and pinhooking partnerships and the formation and operation of EMO horse and farm insurance. He also worked in partnership with Tyson Gilpin for many years at the Stallion Service Bureau as a bloodstock advisor. In addition to these roles, Glenn served as Interim Executive Director of the Virginia Horse Center, a job he dearly loved, and served as a member, and later chair, of the Virginia Horse Industry Board, appointed by former Governor Mark Warner. Though a 2014 diagnosis of CNS lymphoma impacted his work in the equine industry, he was a horseracing fan throughout his life. Along with his wife and children, Glenn watched Rich Strike win the Kentucky Derby in his hospital room, where his enthusiasm showed despite how poorly he felt.

Glenn’s biggest love was his family, and fatherhood was his greatest joy. He delighted in all the love his children brought into his life, and they will greatly miss him. Glenn cheered them on through youth football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and riding lessons, and later in high school games, plays, art shows and more. He made great salsa and homemade pizza, planned fun family vacations, and was a wonderful example of a caring and encouraging father.

Glenn’s life was rich with friendships, which he valued tremendously. He loved to fish, golf and ski – especially with friends on golf trips to Pinehurst, ski trips to Park City and Seven Springs, and fishing on the Shenandoah River or any convenient river or ocean. After playing basketball and football in high school, he continued with rec volleyball and basketball for several years. Glenn was a huge supporter of the Washington Commanders, the Washington Nationals, the JMU Dukes, and the UNC Tarheels (he liked to say he married into a nest of Tarheels). Glenn also loved to listen to Tony Kornheiser’s podcast, and he would fully endorse Dan Snyder selling the team. A writer at heart, he entertained friends and family for years with his Today’s ACC Headlines blog, which specialized in misspelling the name of a coach whose name begins with the letter “K” (and shall not be written here). He saw lots of live music over the years and loved Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, and Jerry Jeff Walker, to name a few. Glenn found his time on a mission trip to Haiti very meaningful, and he was an active member of the Warrenton Rotary Club for several years, along with other local charitable efforts.

Survivors include his wife, Amy Thomas Petty; his daughter, Anna Galina Petty; his son, William “Toly” Petty; his brother, Joel Petty and his wife Yana, nephews David and Pasha, and niece Donna. Glenn is also survived by Amy’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Robert Thomas, of Ramseur, North Carolina, who loved him like a son. He was predeceased by his parents and much-loved sister Gail Petty Williams.

Glenn’s family thanks staff at UVA Medical Center for care over the past eight years, especially Dr. David Schiff, Dr. Guillermo Solorzano and Amanda Lane. They also thank the many family, friends and neighbors who have shown love through countless visits and acts of kindness.

In lieu of flowers, those choosing to donate in his memory can do so to Saint James’ Episcopal Church, Fauquier County SPCA, or a therapeutic riding or thoroughbred retirement nonprofit in your area.