Area II and the greater eventing community mourn the loss of James Pray Baker Jr., of Southern Pines, NC, who died suddenly at his home on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at age 61.
“Jim” was a beloved member of the eventing family and his presence will be greatly missed. When he wasn’t competing his Thoroughbred gelding, Wings, he was an active volunteer whose friendly, hospitable nature was well known. He was a strong supporter of the Area II Adult Riders Program and a board member at the Carolina Horse Park.
In addition to his adventures in eventing, he was an active member of the Moore County Hounds and also enjoyed playing polo. Off the horse, Jim was an enthusiastic marathon runner and competed in over one hundred triathlons.
Originally from Charlottesville, Va., Jim studied engineering at the University of Virginia and attended the Darden School of Business. He began his career as a commercial real estate broker at the Trammel Crow company and later founded and sold West Chase Development Corporation. Jim was the President of the Lundy Group in Raleigh, N.C. for over 30 years, served as treasurer of Christ Church and was on the board of the North State Bank in Raleigh.
Jim’s longtime friend and professional associate Foy Barksdale said, “Jim taught me many things in the business world, but what always impressed me most about Jim was to see how he could turn off the stresses of the office and business world once in the barn and at home with his animals and wife, Sugar. He always had a smile and humor at events and truly enjoyed and embraced life to its fullest on the back of a horse.”
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for memorial donations to be made to the Carolina Horse Park Foundation.
“Horses are so humbling,” says Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride with a wry laugh.
We are speaking a few days after the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event. She is on her way to go cross-country schooling with her beautiful black horse Favian, before tackling the CCI4*-L at Jersey Fresh.
Her week wasn’t supposed to pan out like this. She and Favian should have been resting on their laurels after completing their first CCI5* at Kentucky. However, they fell on the cross-country, and ticking that five-star box will have to wait for another day. Luckily, they are unharmed, Favian has already “cruised around some easy stuff” on an earlier cross-country schooling outing, and Vizcarrondo Pride is determined to start righting the ship at Jersey Fresh.
The 18th annual Jersey Fresh International (JFI) gets underway this afternoon at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, N.J. The CCI4*-L is the final selection trial for the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this summer so all eyes will be on the stacked field.
This year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L was on April 21-25 and was the first five-star event to take place in the U.S. since 2019. The entry list had the best riders in the world, previous Kentucky champions, Olympic hopefuls, and horses who have been eventing in the U.S. since they were 4 years old.
US Equestrian is seeking applications of employment for their Director of Eventing Sport Management & Administration position.