Pioneering horsewoman Suzie O’Cain passes

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Suzie O’Cain

By Tom Law

Suzie O’Cain, one of the most recognizable faces and unique personalities in the New York Thoroughbred industry, passed away Tuesday in Saratoga Springs after a battle with breast cancer.

A former member of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.’ Board of Directors for more than two decades and one of three Directors Emeriti at the time of her passing, O’Cain and her husband of 40 years, Dr. C. Lynwood “Doc” O’Cain, managed Highcliff Farm in Delanson for 23 years.

“When we were at Highcliff she basically co-managed everything with me,” Doc O’Cain said. “She did all office work, all the advertising, all the stallion promotion, the booking of stallions. She was a big part of the operation and its success.”

Born in Madison, Wisc., and raised in Mississippi, Suzie O’Cain attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford and later graduated from Ohio State University in Columbus with a bachelor’s degree in education.

“We met in Louisiana and were married in Louisiana,” Doc O’Cain said. “She showed Quarter Horses in Louisiana and knew nothing about Thoroughbreds at all. I did some Thoroughbred veterinary work in Louisiana and when we moved up here she got involved in Thoroughbreds.”

The O’Cains moved to the Northeast in 1985 when Doc O’Cain went to work at Everett and Gustave Schoenborn Sr.’s Schoenborn Brothers Farm in Coxsackie, which stood leading New York stallions Cormorant and Talc. He also worked at Gus Schoenborn Jr.’s Contemporary Stallions, which stood Ends Well, Double Negative and others.

The association with Highcliff started in 1989 and during their time with Carl Lizza, the O’Cains were heavily involved in his successful Flying Zee Stable breeding and racing programs. The couple continued their involvement in the Empire State’s breeding and stallion programs after Lizza’s death in July 2011 and managed and marketed stallions under the Saratoga Stallions banner.

Suzie O’Cain served the industry in many capacities, including as a member of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s board of directors from 2003 until this past August. She also served as co-chairwoman of the NYTB’s Political Action Committee and chairwoman of the NYTB’s Media Committee.

O’Cain also founded Find A Cure Stable to campaign horses to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. She also hosted a show called “Suzie’s Corner” that aired on the New York City OTB and Capital OTB networks where she interviewed prominent women in the Thoroughbred industry and was honored in 2003 at the governor’s mansion in Albany during a Women’s History Month reception to recognize Pioneering Women of the Capital Region.

“Suzie was a very unique person, a very smart person,” Doc O’Cain said. “And she had the personality to go with it. She could walk into a room and take it over.”

Plans for a memorial service and/or celebration of life, most likely in August at Saratoga Race Course, are pending. Donations can be made in Suzie’s name to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

One Response to “Pioneering horsewoman Suzie O’Cain passes”

  1. Mary Kopley says:

    Doc- so sad to learn of Suzie’s passing. We all enjoyed so many wonderful times together. The room, party or just an ordinary day lit up when she appeared. Cherish the memories. Much love, Mary

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