Good Guys Do Win….

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 14, 2008 in News | No Comments >>

The Turf Publicists of America help to promote the sport of Thoroughbred racing, but on May 3, the Sport of Kings’ found a great ambassador in someone who shared his thoughts on one of the sport’s worst moments.

One day after walking to the winner’s circle to celebrate Proud Spell’s win in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), trainer Larry Jones found himself walking up to the Churchill Downs press box, not to discuss Eight Belles’s runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), but her death.

Jones was patient with the media not only that day, but also throughout the year as the glaring spotlight of the national media fixed on Thoroughbred racing.

“He became racing’s spokesman and its chief defender for all its problems,” wrote Tom Pedulla in USA Today.

For his contributions to Thoroughbred racing, Jones received the Turf Publicists of America’s Big Sport of Turfdom Award on Tuesday, at the Symposium on Racing and Gaming.

Ever humble, Jones deflected the praise of the award to those who had peppered him with questions.

“There is a big difference between sports writers who cover racing and turf writers,” Jones said. “There were a lot of things misrepresented but not by the true professional writers.

“I’m deeply touched by this award. I know some previous winners and consider them my heroes, and now I’m happy to consider them friends.”

“What Larry Jones did on Derby day was legendary,” Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote in an e-mail to TPA President Eric Wing. “He was the epitome of grace under pressure and cemented his reputation as one of the game’s class acts.”

Jones said earlier this year that he would scale back his operation leading up to a semi-retirement after the 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. He has trained the Derby runner-up in two consecutive years, and he is an early participant on this year’s Triple Crown trail with Remsen Stakes (G2) winner Old Fashioned.