Apparently, Hall of Fame trainer LeRoy Jolley is not the retiring type.
“I got bored. I don't play golf anymore and I don't fish, so I went back to doing what I know,” the 78-year-old Jolley said Wednesday morning at Barn 5 at Keeneland.
Jolley, who had no starters in 2013 and 2014, resumed training in 2015 and now has three runners. Two of them are here.
“I was on my way to Saratoga from Ocala (Fla.),” Jolley said of making his first training stop at Keeneland since 2008. “I grew up in Florida and I don't do cold weather well at all. The barn area at Saratoga opens April 15, but it doesn't start to warm up there until about May 10.”
Jolley has had a long association with Keeneland. His father, Moody, won seven stakes here, including a sweep of the Alcibiades, Ashland and Spinster with Doubledogdare in 1955-1956, a feat LeRoy equaled 20 years later with Optimistic Gal.
On Thursday, Jolley will saddle Hot Scot Racing Stable's Marrakech in the ninth race, a $50,000 starter allowance at 1 1/8 miles on the turf with Flavien Prat to ride.
“He has been running a mile and a mile and a sixteenth, but he wants to go farther,” Jolley said about the 3-year-old colt by Eskendereya.
Taking Marrakech to the track Wednesday morning was 72-year-old Hall of Fame jockey Jacinto Vasquez, who won the 1975 Kentucky Derby (G1) on Foolish Pleasure and the 1980 Derby on Genuine Risk for Jolley.
“They should call us the Old-Timer's Stable, Jacinto,” Jolley said with a laugh. “We've got 150 years between us. He galloped for me all winter long … can't get away from him.”
Jolley, who saddled his first winner in 1958 and his first of 51 Keeneland winners in 1961, also has an unraced 2-year-old filly here named Forres Lily, a Florida-bred daughter of Drosselmeyer out of a Will's Way mare.
“She is named for the owner's mother, who lives in Forres, Scotland,” Jolley said. “She seems very quick, which you wouldn't expect from a Drosselmeyer. I wanted to stop here and get her gate approved by Spec before going to Saratoga.”
“Spec” is Keeneland starter Spec Alexander, who goes way back with Jolley.
“Spec galloped for me in 1961 and he galloped Ridan, which was no easy job,” Jolley said of the 1962 Blue Grass winner owned by his mother in partnership and the first of his 10 Keeneland stakes winners. He also won the 1963 Breeders' Futurity with Duel, 1976 Blue Grass (G1) with Honest Pleasure, 1977 Blue Grass with For the Moment, 1987 Elkhorn with Manila and 1989 Palisades with Key Flyer.
Jolley has no plans for a stable expansion; however, should someone inquire about sending him a youngster, he might change his mind.
“Nobody ever turns down a promising 2-year-old,” Jolley said with a twinkle in his eye.
(From the 1961 Fall Meet through the 1996 Fall Meet, Vasquez won 95 races at Keeneland. His eight stakes wins here are the 1983 Alcibiades-G2 on Lucky Lucky Lucky, 1983 Ashland-G2 on Princess Rooney, 1987 Elkhorn on Manila, 1988 Blue Grass on Granacus, 1988 Lexington-G2 on Risen Star, 1988 Spinster-G1 on Hail a Cab, 1988 Thoroughbred Club of America-G3 on Tappiano and 1992 Blue Grass-G2 on Pistols and Roses.)
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