Book Tour Highlights Life of Thoroughbred Pioneer Fred Hooper
Award-winning author Bill Heller will be joined by Wanda (Hooper) Quigley for a book tour in Ocala from Oct. 8 through 12 to spotlight the book, “The Extraordinary Life of Fred Hooper.”
The book was unveiled at a book signing at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga in August, and the second leg of the tour kicks off through Ocala with several meet and greets, a lecture, and opportunities to meet Heller and Quigley, the wife of the late Fred Hooper who passed in 2000 at the age of 102.
The book tells the tales of Hooper, a high school dropout who later founds a teaching academy. He was also a teenage daredevil and tradesman who created a road building legacy with no experience and a novice thoroughbred owner who won the Kentucky Derby in his first try with Hoop Jr. in 1945.
Heller has won 11 national awards for his writing including the highest honor bestowed in thoroughbred racing, an Eclipse award in 1997. He was also honored with a Breeders Cup writing award in 1999 and an Equine Protection award in 2015. His 26 previous books include biographies of basketball coach Bill Musselman; Hall of Fame jockeys Ron Turcotte, Randy Romero, and Jose Santos; harness racing Hall of Fame legend Billy Houghton; and a profile of Howard Nolan titled “Politics and Ponies.”
On Oct. 8, at the Del Webb Stone Creek Golf Club, Heller and Quigley will be signing books from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. following a ticketed luncheon featuring Kentucky Derby winning breeder Gail Rice. The book signing is open to the public at the club at 9676 SW 62nd Loop in Ocala.
On Oct. 11, the Master the Possibilities Educational Center at On Top of the World will host a lecture from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. where Heller and Quigley will recount the life of Hooper in Ocala, his innovations in the thoroughbred industry, and Hooper’s life philosophy.
From being the first person to successfully ship horses cross country by plane, to being the first to bring Latin American jockeys to the U.S. racetracks, Hooper was a founder, inventor, visionary, and a loyal man to all those who knew him.
Admission is $6 for On Top of the World communities and $11 for the general public. The proceeds benefit Florida Thoroughbred Charities. To register for course SPE203 visit https://masterthepossibilities.org/. The class meets at Live Oak Hall in the Circle Square Commons at 8415 SW 80th, Suite 2.
On Oct. 11, Equus Inn will host a reception welcoming Heller and Quigley along with artist Alaura Allen who will be displaying her original artwork. The book and art reception kicks off at 6 p.m. where both will be available for book signings and conversation. Equus Inn is located at 3434 SW College Road.
On Oct. 12 at 6:20 p.m., Heller and Quigley will be guests at The Horse Talk Show studios in downtown Ocala for a segment about the history of Hooper Farms in Ocala and its impact to the thoroughbred world. The show will air live on Facebook on The Horse Talk Show page and will re-air at 7 a.m. on Oct. 16 on Sky 97.3.
A portion of the proceeds of the tour benefits Florida Thoroughbred Charities, the charitable arm of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association. The charity funds the Second Chances Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) farm at the Lowell Correctional Institution which gives women a chance to learn equine skills so they can be placed on farms for employment after release. The former racehorses the inmates work with positively change lives. FTC also funds youth education including scholarships and other community programs.