Wilma Foley, Long Time Virginia & Kentucky Harness Horsewoman, Passes Away at Age 65 

(WOODSTOCK, VA — 4/20/2023) —- Condolences go out to the family and friends of long-time harness horse owner/trainer Wilma Foley who passed away unexpectedly April 14 at the age of 65.  Ms. Foley was a friend to all in the backstretch at many racetracks and always had a smile on her face.

Ms. Foley had been involved in the sport for decades. She served as Operations Director of Thunder Ridge Raceway — located in her hometown of Prestonsburg, Kentucky in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains — throughout its years as a harness track until it closed in 2015. As a horseperson, Ms. Foley competed there along with her business partner Lawrence Cooper. The two campaigned horses together around the country for 23 years.

In addition to Thunder Ridge, they competed in Virginia — at Colonial Downs in New Kent from 2013-2014, at Oak Ridge Racecourse in Nelson County in 2015, and at Shenandoah Downs and the Shenandoah County Fair since 2016. 

 Lawrence Cooper & Wilma Foley in the winners circle at Shenandoah Downs. 

Among her top horses was Key Word, a Camystic gelding pacer who won four out of five races during the 2019 meet in Woodstock. Freak on a Leash racked up seven wins there between 2021-2023 to complement other scores at Oak Grove and Cooper Downs. Ironically, the 4-year-old gelding pacer won at Shenandoah the day after Ms. Foley passed. She trained Dr. Scott Woogen’s K J Kyra, a 4-year-old trotting mare who won April 1 in Woodstock. She had a pair or runner-up finishes as well with Woogen’s Just a Passenger on April 2 & 8.

Another solid horse was Somuchcooleronline, who she co-owned with Mr. Cooper. The Make It Brief gelding pacer won a pair at Thunder Ridge in 2014 then went on to win three more later that year at Colonial and the Red Mile. He added 13 more victories to his career total over the next three years.

Ms. Foley served on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Harness Horse Association for many years. Her Piscataway competed in the Virginia Breeder’s 2 & 3-Year-old Filly Championship Pace in 2014 and 2015.

A Celebration of Life in Ms. Foley’s honor is being planned in Prestonsburg within the next several weeks but an exact date has yet to be been determined. When available, the notice will be posted at shenandoahdowns.com.