TRAINER RAYMOND, 74, DIES FROM SEPTIC SHOCK; SERVICE FRIDAY

by Mike Henry

Robert A. “Bobby” Raymond, who trained 1,294 winners in a 43-year career, died Sunday at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Fla., from septic shock. He was 74.

According to Raymond’s son Rob, the trainer’s right leg became infected on a visit with wife Kathy to Mobbly Beach Park in Oldsmar on Wednesday when he waded into the water and bacteria entered a small cut on his leg. Despite soreness, Raymond trained his horses Thursday, but when his leg became inflamed and he started shivering Friday morning, he was rushed to the hospital.

His condition gradually worsened over the next two days before he passed away at about 1:30 a.m. on Sunday.

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Bobby and Kathy Raymond outside the Tampa Bay Downs paddock in March

Raymond finished the 2021-2022 Tampa Bay Downs meet in a tie for eighth place in the trainer standings with 17 victories. He was honored in March as the track’s Salt Rock Tavern Trainer of the Month.

“He never stopped fighting. His heart was so big,” Rob Raymond said. “He hardly ever took a minute for himself. He had a great love for the animals and all the people he was involved with. He never had a problem helping someone on the backstretch who was in need.

“He touched so many people, and the outpouring of love and affection we’ve received the last 24 hours has been unbelievable. We’ve had people calling offering condolences from Cuba to Canada,” Rob said.

Raymond, a Woonsocket, R.I., product who owned Bobkat Stable farm in North Smithfield, R.I., with Kathy, began training in 1979 at Suffolk Downs in Boston and made Tampa Bay Downs his winter base during the 2003-2004 season. “When I was a kid, he was off all the time to New York, Finger Lakes, Rockingham Park, Suffolk – whatever track was racing. He was so in tune with the sport,” Rob said.

Before becoming a trainer, Raymond shoed horses and worked on several racetrack starting gate crews.

Raymond trained such fine racehorses as Technically Wicked, who earned $221,195 from 15 wins and 15 seconds; Dreamed a Dream, who earned $221,177 from 10 victories; and Zaino Boyz, who won the 2019 Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

He was perhaps equally as well known for being a mentor to the late Jill Jellison, who rode 1,913 winners before she died in 2015 after battling breast cancer. Raymond, who predicted Jellison would become a jockey when she was 4, hired her to work at his farm after she dropped out of high school.

“We did very good together,” Raymond said after Jellison’s passing. “Every horse she got off of she tried to help (with observations and suggestions). She was tough. She was kind. And she loved her animals.”

Raymond was quick to deflect the credit for his accomplishments from himself to his employees, including assistant Pedro Posadas, exercise rider Alex Mendieta and groom Arturo Dela Cruz. “It’s a team thing,” Raymond said after receiving the Salt Rock Tavern Trainer of the Month Award. “Without these guys I couldn’t do anything.”

Survivors include Kathy, his wife of 48 years; son Rob; and brothers Fred and Paul. A service will be held in remembrance of Raymond at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at Espiritu  Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor, located at 2405 Philippe Pkwy.