Robert Manfuso
"Big Bad Bob" Manfuso at a 2015 EMC function welcoming Dr. Michael Erskine as the center’s director.

Robert “Bob” Manfuso, a longtime member of Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) Advisory Council and a prominent figure in the thoroughbred industry, died on March 19 of natural causes. He was 82.

Always an advocate for EMC’s equine research and clinical services, Manfuso had been a pivotal contributor to the council since 2006, sharing his unique insight and comprehensive knowledge of thoroughbred breeding and racing.

“Over many years of close interactions with Bob, during council meetings and at social events, he was always generous with his time and knowledge,” said Beverly Steinman, chair of the advisory council. “Bob will be sorely missed, and his support of the Equine Medical Center will always be remembered.”

Formerly part of the ownership group that purchased both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in the mid-1980s, Manfuso helped revive Maryland racing and was instrumental in the establishment of the Maryland Million, a day of races for Maryland-sired horses. Among his extensive record of service to the industry, he was a vice president of the Breeders’ Cup Board of Directors, chairing its Racing and Nominations Committee, and a member of the boards of directors of the Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

As a thoroughbred owner and breeder, Manfuso and his life partner, trainer Katy Voss, enjoyed considerable success on the track and in the sales ring. At their 191-acre breeding and training facility, Chanceland Farm, in West Friendship, Maryland, they bred a number of outstanding horses over the past four decades.

In February, two Chanceland homebreds, Las Setas (trained by Voss) and Cordmaker — both out of homebred mare Tanca — were named 2019 Champion 3-year-old Filly and Champion Older Male, respectively, at the Renaissance Awards, which recognizes excellence in thoroughbred racing and breeding in Maryland. Other notable champions bred by Manfuso and Voss include Cathryn Sophia, winner of the 2016 Longines Kentucky Oaks; International Star, a four-time graded stakes winner; and Belterra, a Grade 2 winner and granddam of Cathryn Sophia.

“Bob will be fondly remembered by us all for the depth and breadth of his knowledge of the thoroughbred industry, his love for and innate relationship with his horses, and his wit and generosity of spirit,” said Michael Erskine, EMC director and Jean Ellen Shehan Professor. “His experience was invaluable to our work here at EMC.”