American Field

Ray Batke Remembered

By David Grubb | May 03, 2018

Lake Orion, Mich. — It was with great sadness, and dismay, that I just learned of the passing of Ray Batke of Wooster, Ohio. Ray was a true friend and client for many years. We all called him the “Silver Fox”, as he was white-headed at an early age. I would laugh, and he’d say, “You’ll be grey one day, David.” Ray, that day did happen.

In the early 1970s, Ray had several dogs with me, but his best one, and Ray’s favorite, was Harris Rambling Dan. We won a lot of good trials with Dan, and Ray relished each and every one of them.

I remember one year we went to the Cajun Classic in 1977. When we arrived, a local Cajun showed up and came up to me and said, “Mr. Grubb, I have read about you. You come down here to win this trial?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “That won’t happen. Either Marshall Loftin or George Clark always wins this trial.”

Well, Dan put on a brilliant display of footwork and had three finds, and late in the stake our Red Water Jupiter also had a good race and three finds. They were clearly the top two dogs. As they prepared to read off the winners, the Cajun walked up and I just smiled for I knew we were one and two. Not so, they read off the winners, and George Clark won it. Jupiter was second and Dan got third.

When I called Ray to tell him the outcome, he just laughed and said, “David, the Cajun told you!”

Ray would come down to Selma, Ala., each year and work dogs with me and go to some trials. We had a great time together. Ray ran in the National Amateur Free-for-All at Union Springs, Ala. He loved to work a dog, and especially liked young dogs.

One year at Killdeer Plains in Ohio Ray scouted for me, and we had a great performance with Ch. Allegan Class. Ray overheard one of the judges say that we did not use up enough course, meaning when they called pickup, we were a mile or so short of where they usually picked up.

They called a second series. I told Ray, and our other friend, top trainer Henry Caruso, we would ride much faster this time. We went through there at breakneck speed and covered two one-hour courses in one hour. Henry said his horse gave out at a half hour. Ray just laughed and said, “I thought it was a fox hunt as fast as we went.”

Ray was a great guy and I will long remember the “Silver Fox”. My condolences to Pat.

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