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Lou Hildebrandt, Sr., a thoroughbred jockey for Amsterdam’s Sanford Stud Farm, and Grace Gilbert, a visual artist, went together in their later years.

Lou and Grace were married before. Lou married Betty Sheridan of Amsterdam in 1940. They raised three children.

Originally from Amsterdam, Grace Cermola met a Texan, Clinton Wayne Gilbert, when they were both students at Syracuse University during World War II. Married for 40 years, they raised two sons.

After graduating from high school in Amsterdam in 1936, Lou, who weighed ninety pounds, signed a five-year contract to be trained as a jockey at Sanford Stud Farm near his home, although he had not yet mounted a horse. His mentor was legendary Sanford Racing Hall of Fame coach Hollie Hughes.

Grace’s mother wanted her to study the piano. Their family was musicians. But Grace preferred painting. She completed her university studies in three years, and for 33 years she was an art teacher in a public school.

Lou rode a Sanford horse at Saratoga in 1940 but his mount, Bea-A-Belle, did not win. During World War II, he was a private in an Army horse training unit at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. The captain was polo player Laddie Sanford, co-owner of the Bigelow Sanford mat.

Grace’s husband, Clinton, worked at General Motors in Schenectady after the war. Laid off in 1959, he got a job in Westchester County with the State Thruway Authority. The Gilberts moved to Mamaroneck and Grace taught art in schools in Pelham until her retirement in 1977.

After the war, Lou won important races for the Sanfords, including Monmouth, New Jersey aboard a big horse, Roundview, in 1947. Hildebrandt was injured several times and his favorite mount Roundview was hit with a incapacity by disease.

Lou said, “I discussed the situation with Betty and decided to quit.” Lou had over 480 mounts during his eleven-year racing career at Sanford.

He moved from horse racing to power, working as a mechanic and then car salesman for an Amsterdam dealership for 30 years.

Grace’s husband Clinton retired in 1978 and they moved back to Amsterdam. Clinton loved the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.

For many years, Grace volunteered at the Walter Elwood Museum, teaching art classes and serving on the board. She taught private art classes. She said, “The community needs art.” She said all the wives of doctors in the area take her classes. Grace’s husband, Clinton, died in 1985.

Lou’s wife, Betty, died in 1995. Years later, Lou began keeping Grace company.

They were both graduates in 1936 from Amsterdam High School. They met when Lou brought Grace information about a class reunion.

Grace encouraged Lou to write her 2003 memoir, “Riders Up”. The book was voted book of the year 2011 by Amsterdam Reads. Grace accompanied Lou to public appearances, although she feared horses.

Lou Hildebrandt died on November 25, 2011 at the age of 93. His funeral procession stopped at the site of the Sanford Stud before heading to St. Mary’s Cemetery in Fort Johnson.

Grace Gilbert died at age 98 on January 15, 2017. Grace’s paintings were often inspired by French Impressionists and Dutch masters, with landscapes depicting colorful scenes and still lifes featuring food and flowers. She has traveled a lot abroad.

Many winter landscapes and portraits were inspired by Gilbert’s real surroundings, her friends and family, who posed for her or were painted using photos.

Lou’s son Sam (Louis Hildebrandt, Jr.) was active in Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, which campaigned to preserve some of the farm buildings on Route 30 in the city of Amsterdam. Much of the farm area has been developed for retail.

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