John Farmer grew up in the Lents neighborhood of Portland, Oregon with his three brothers and three sisters. They were raised by full-time homemaker mother, Barbara, a Klamath Tribe member who wrote for the Portland Indian News, and father, Loren, of Black Feet descent and now retired Bureau of Indian Affairs Superintendent.
John wanted to be a professional athlete. As a youngster, he practically lived at Pals Boys Club located on gritty Southeast 92nd Avenue. He excelled in Little League baseball, track and field, and especially Pop Warner football. Proud of his Native American heritage, he was a finalist for the prestigious 1979-1980 Jim Thorpe award named in honor of one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports. While playing nose and offensive guard for Marshall High School’s football team, he was named “Most Aggressive and Best Defensive Player” and also wrote the “John Farmer Sports Almanac” column for the school newspaper.
When John was eleven years old, his mother never knew she would change his life forever when he watched greyhound races with her at Multnomah Greyhound Park in Wood Village, Oregon.
John was smitten by a red fawn legend named P.L. GREER by S.S. GENO X COLONEL VICKEY (a back-to-back Flashy Sir award winner and 2015 Hall of Fame inductee raced by Dick Moran). Young John wrote to Mr. Moran asking permission to visit his farm and soon after, was riding his bicycle 26 miles round trip to Moran’s volunteering to help in the kennel to be close to his canine idol. To facilitate this marathon trek, 7th grade Lents Elementary School teacher and greyhound handicapper John Fappas dismissed Farmer at 1:00 pm every day allowing him to get a jump on kennel duties and schooling races.
In 1977 through 1979, John volunteered to work for Doug Manley Kennel where he honed kennel skills in between athletic events. Following high school graduation in 1984, he turned down a University of Oregon journalism scholarship to work with greyhounds in the John Allen Kennel from 1986 – 1993. Starting as a kennel helper to trainer Frank Sadulski, John received his trainer’s license in 1985 and eventually replaced Sadulski.
His first stake winner trainee was MY CYCLONE by HAIL THE CHEF X WP TOOTS, victor of Multnomah Greyhound Park’s Fawn Warrior Memorial. John was just warming up…
In 1987, he trained MY SUZY Q by TARGET X BONSAI, victor of the 1987 Palm Beach Derby and found a way to the reviewing stand again for the same race in the 1988 edition with MY UNRULY DAN by UNRULY X SUSIE YORK. In 1990, under Farmer’s care, BIG ALE STAR by BJ GENTLEMAN X BEAUTIFUL STAR set a 550 yard Palm Beach track record stopping the clock in 29.24 seconds.
Multnomah Greyhound Park provided a 1991 homecoming venue for one of John’s most memorable victories in the Coors Superstar Invitational with CHESTY MARINE. The son of RK’s WALT WHIZ X EXETER GIRL left in his wake a field that boasted six All-American competitors including win machine, MI DESIGNER by K’s FLAK X PROUD TREAT.
From 1993 through 2013, John trained for a number of kennels before forming Farmer Racing, LLC in 2014 campaigning exclusively at Derby Lane. His oldest son, 23 year old Loren, used to assist in the kennel but now pursues an accounting degree at University of South Florida. John’s youngest son, 22 year old Sean, is his kennel co-owner and assistant trainer, and still finds time to study nursing at Schiller University in Largo, Florida.
Father and sons celebrated HIGHLYCLASSIFIED’s recent December 12, 2015 victory in Derby Lane’s $75,000.00 Holiday Distance Challenge. Hopes were high for the white and brindle son of KIOWA MON MANNY X CANTRELL to perform well at the 550 yards distance in the 2016 Inaugural Stakes on January 2nd, but was shut off in the first turn and finished seventh. Although a fan favorite, HIGHLYCLASSIFIED isn’t nearly as popular with kennel mates. As an ambitious, slightly skiddish alpha male, he must be turned out separately to avoid “stirring the pot” with pack members.
As an avid Seattle Seahawks fan, John Farmer must be looking forward to the return of Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch, hopefully back by Sunday, January 10th when Seattle squares off against the Minnesota Vikings in an attempt to secure a solid path to the Super Bowl Playoffs. An anticipated comeback in progress is that of Farmer Racing charge RCK BLAZEN FAST by red-hot sire DJAYS OCTANE X RCK ZANDRA. Off for four months, John is optimistic this young, red male distance specialist will return to grade A form soon, but it will take time and patience of which Farmer has plenty of. In the meantime, Greyhound Channel anxiously waits for HIGHLYCLASSFIED’s next start at 660 yards to show his best.
On Sunday, regardless of the out come, John Farmer and his roommate, a former professional athlete, will pull for the Seattle Seahawks and share some snacks in front of the television. STARZ JENKO, coached by Farmer to All-American status, a Rural Rube award, and a victory in the 2008 Mardi Gras World Classic, looks forward to watching the 2016 bowl games with his friend.