A Tough Game

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 24, 2008 in General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

When the thoroughbred racing game forces good solid trainers to retire, it is a sure sign things are a changing. That is exactly what is happening. It is happening to a man we have been discussing recently here on WinningPonies.com. His name is Larry Jones…..

From a small time trainer in Henderson, Kentucky to the big leagues, one thing has been a constant. Larry Jones is a class act. During these times of change and introspection, one of the good guys of racing will be hanging up his tack after 25 years.

Assisted by his wife Cindy, they have personified the good side of the game. Hard work, honest ideals, and love for their horses has carried them far. This past year has been a good year and bad year according to Jones. After celebrating the Kentucky Oaks win with Proud Spell, he came back the next day to have one of the best fillies in the country die in the Kentucky Derby. That is a swing of emotions that no human being could weather.

The media scrutiny, the constant negative press, mail from angry fans just takes it toll on one of the best. I know that steel rusts, and Superman has kryptonite. I guess that everyone has a point when they want to hang it up. Maybe it was having ten days off in 25 years; maybe it was this horrific year; maybe it could have demanding owners that wanted this small time outfit to run like the big outfits. Either one, or all could have been factors. But after the Breeders’ Cup 2009, Larry Jones wants to be out of the game.

He wants to phase out his operation. He will still see his babies through next year’s Triple Crown, but he would like to retire after the Breeders’ Cup. This can be a tough game. One minute your on top, and the next minute your the odd man out. For a man who came from humble beginnings, to the white Stetson wearing quiet trainer on the big stage, he has remained a constant. I guess he doesn’t want to pay the price that some have paid to be the center stage man. He didn’t want to be a manager, he just wanted to train his horses.

The good news is that after he retires and takes a well deserved break, someday he might return on a much smaller scale. In the meantime, we are seeing the end of an era. One of the last small guys who made it to the big leagues. It must be an incredible price to pay, and most will never know. So the next time you see Larry Jones in the paddock saddling one of his runners, in his trademark white Stetson, know this is the end of an era. The good guys do walk off into the sunset.