Clarke County Horse Breeder, Trainer Named to Virginia Racing Commission

The following piece was written by Mickey Powell of The Winchester Star and appeared February 24.

BERRYVILLE — Horses develop close emotional bonds with humans who show care and concern for them, Jill Gordon-Moore has realized.

“They’re special, beautiful animals” that are extremely smart, she said. “If you treat them honestly, they’ll treat you honestly.”

Jill Gordon-Moore in the winners circle at Colonial Downs.

Gordon-Moore, who runs Corner Farm in Clarke County with her husband, Ned Moore, has been around horses since her childhood. She has spent basically her entire adult life training and breeding them.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin recently appointed her to the Virginia Racing Commission (VRC), which oversees and regulates horse racing statewide. She will attend her first meeting this morning at Colonial Downs in New Kent.

“It wasn’t a political appointment,” Gordon-Moore emphasized. Rather, the commission sought someone who knows about horses and understands how racing affects them, she said.

Her vast knowledge of horses will be crucial to the VRC as it navigates changes to the racing industry, commission officials stated in a news release.

Asked to elaborate during a phone interview, Gordon-Moore said gaming technology generally has taken over horse racing, whereas it used to be a stand-alone industry.

Jill Gordon-Moore (3rd from left) attends her first VRC meeting at Colonial Downs February 27 as a Commissioner.

Also, fewer foals are being born and raised nowadays as horse breeding, like most businesses, has sustained financial hits in recent years, she said.

But she views fewer foals as a positive.

“We can take better care of them from beginning to end,” she explained.

Over the years, “I’ve been down in the trenches and gotten dirty” while caring for horses, Gordon-Moore continued. So it stands to reason that she knows most everything there is to know about them.

Her family had horses while she was growing up in the 1960s. She left college after a year to work at Delaware Park as an exercise rider. It was good money as well as fun, she recalled, and she was around people eager and willing to help her get to know more about horses.

A short time later, Gordon-Moore moved to New York, where she met owner/trainer Mack Miller, who became her mentor. She credits him with introducing her to horse pedigrees and the intricacies of the breeding process.

Gordon-Moore spent roughly a decade galloping horses for Miller in the mornings and working in racing operations and marketing in the afternoons. She also produced television features on trainers and jockeys for legendary racing broadcaster Harvey Pack.

She eventually decided to get involved in thoroughbred breeding. After initially working for Sunset Hill Farm in Maryland, she opened a horse farm in Pennsylvania and then spent seven years working at Audley Farm near Berryville. She and her husband later bought their farm on Cannon Ball Road, which is near Audley, and they’ve operated it for 22 years.

They have five horses, including one currently stabled in Kentucky.

However, they’ve put the farm on the market. Operating a farm is a 24-7 venture, Gordon-Moore said, and they’re ready to downsize.

That will give her considerable time to devote to the VRC, she added.

Gordon-Moore has long enjoyed horse racing. She has attended 17 Belmont Stakes. Her first was in 1973, when Virginia-bred Secretariat set a speed record in all three Triple Crown races.

“Horses are creatures of habit,” so they typically enjoy racing once they start, as long as they’re treated well, she said. And, they seek to win while racing because “they want to do well for you.”

Gordon-Moore has been president of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and a board member of the Virginia Equine Alliance.

As a VRC member, Gordon-Moore will contribute to its mission of promoting and maintaining the integrity, viability, and safety of the sport in Virginia, and ensuring a fair, competitive environment for all participants, according to the release.

“Hopefully,” she said, “I’ll ask the right questions and be able to make sure things are the way they’re supposed to be.”

Gordon-Moore will serve a five-year term, with the possibility of it being renewed for another five years.