Austin A. Brown, legendary horseman and gentleman, died peacefully May 4th on Hilton Head Island.
In 1943, at the age of 16, Austin Brown received his first amateur jockey’s license. He rode in 14 Iroquois steeplechase races, winning three times and joining the Iroquois Steeplechase Hall of Fame in 2008. He rode in three Maryland Hunt Cups but more importantly he began a career that included positions as an owner, trainer, steward, course designer and industry leader.
Brown steered the successful Carolina Cup Racing Association for many years, supervised construction of the first Atlanta Steeplechase course, and organized the only jump races ever held at Santa Anita and Bay Meadows racetracks in California.
In 1998 Brown helped found the National Steeplechase Museum on Springdale Race Course in Camden, SC. As a testament to his depth in the sport, Brown served on the NSA Board of Directors from 1962 -1972 and was elected again to the Board in 2007. He also served on the Board of the National Steeplechase Foundation.
In addition to his efforts in steeplechasing, Brown worked for Delaware Park racetrack from 1965 -1982 as assistant general manager and eventually executive vice president/general manager. At Delaware, he was a member of the executive committee and promoted simulcast and spurred numerous marketing developments, including the Morning Railbird Club (where Brown narrated morning workouts and interviewed trainers and jockeys) and Ladies Day at The Races.
He considered the National Steeplechase Museum one of his best accomplishments, promoting the concept in 1997 and raising the funds for construction. Austin was honored by the industry in 2007 as the 24th recipient of the F. Ambrose Clark Award. The Clark Award named after F. Ambrose Clark, dominant owner/trainer of the early- to mid-1900s, is given periodically to an individual who promotes, improves and encourages the growth and the welfare of American steeplechasing.
Brown is survived by his wife of 68 years, Sally, and nephew, Roger Brown of Holland, Michigan. Memorials can be made to the National Steeplechase Museum, P.O. Box 2424 Camden, SC 29020. —by Catherine French
Austin A. Brown, a lifelong steeplechase participant who made uncounted contributions to the sport he loved, died Wednesday, May 4, in South Carolina.
In recognition of his lifelong devotion to jump racing, he was honored in 2007 with the F. Ambrose Clark Award, which recognizes those who have done the most to promote, improve, and encourage the growth and welfare of American Steeplechasing.
“The sport has lost one of its most devoted participants,” National Steeplechase Association President Guy J. Torsilieri said. “He was deeply involved in many aspects of our sport for well more than a half-century, and he led with grace and charm.”
Mr. Torsilieri said he had spoken with Mr. Brown shortly after the Carolina Cup in early April. “He was so engaged and enthusiastic about everything that is going on in steeplechase racing,” Mr. Torsilieri said.
“He was a wonderful person. He was wonderful with people, and he was great working with people,” said NSA Chairman Beverly R. Steinman.
One of the projects closest to his heart was the National Steeplechase Museum in Camden, S.C., where he and his wife, Sally, resided for many decades before relocating to Hilton Head Island, S.C. He spearheaded the fund-raising for the museum’s expansion and was its president emeritus.
“He really loved the museum and made it work,” said Ms. Steinman, who currently serves as the museum’s president and chairman of the Carolina Cup Racing Association. “He will be greatly missed.”
Austin Brown participated in the sport as an amateur jockey in the 1940s and 1950s. While always deeply involved in steeplechase racing, he also had extensive experience as a racetrack operator.
He was general manager of Delaware Park from 1971 into the mid-1980s and oversaw the opening of the Birmingham Turf Club in Alabama as its president in 1987. When he was resigned late that year at age 60 to return to Camden, one of the track’s investors said Mr. Brown “has so much integrity I’ve never met a man like him.”
For many years, he headed the committee responsible for nominating members to the NSA Board of Directors.
Funeral services are pending.