Hats Off to Larry

The morning of the Kentucky Derby, in a corner of Barn 43, all was right with the world. Larry and Cindy Jones were still beaming over the impressive victory of Proud Spell in the previous day’s Kentucky Oaks. Their African Gray parrot, Buddy, was whistling up a storm outside his cage in the office. Proud Spell was having her picture taken with several visitors. And in the next stall, Eight Belles was awaiting her chance at history in the Run for the Roses.

Some seven hours later, the Jones’ world came crashing down when Eight Belles, after finishing a gallant second to Big Brown, shattered both her front ankles while pulling up and had to be euthanized on the track.

The joy of Proud Spell’s magnificent victory had been short-lived, dimmed by the shadows of Eight Belles’ tragic death.

Larry Jones never could have imagined that a Kentucky Oaks victory and a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby would become a prelude to a nightmare.

The firestorm that followed hit Jones as if he had been kicked in the gut by one of his horses. Volatile protests by PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) were directed not only at Thoroughbred racing, but at Jones, his jockey Gabriel Saez, and owner Rick Porter. Then came the demonstrations and the volumes of hate mail, followed by PETA’s attempt to have animal cruelty charges filed against Jones. Proud Spell’s Kentucky Oaks had quickly become a distant memory. “It seems like decades ago,” Jones said at the time. “Our enjoyment lasted only one day.”

A month later, one of Jones’ horses, Stones River, was found to have an excess amount of the bronchodilator clenbuterol in his system. Jones was convinced the horse had been tampered with, due to the timing of it and the fact that he was the only one in the barn who administered clenbuterol. Then, two of Jones’ horses, including his pony, Pal, were let out of their stalls and were found wandering about near the barn. Pal had been poisoned with a toxic agent that caused severe blisters in his mouth and on his tongue. A recently fired employee was suspected in the incident.

The once cheery, good-humored world of Larry Jones was now spiraling downward into the darkness of hatred, revenge, and ignorance. The year that had started with great promise quickly was unraveling and there seemed no way to stop it.

Jones had relied heavily on his faith after Eight Belles’ death and its aftermath, as he tried to get his life back to some sense of normalcy.

“Nothing has ever hurt me more,” he said at the time. “This is the greatest tragedy of my life.”

It reached a point where he became reluctant to open his mail, not wanting to subject himself to the cruel and hateful things people were writing.

Jones reappeared on the national scene on June 28, saddling Proud Spell in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) and Solar Flare in the Suburban Handicap (gr. I). At the end of the day, it was apparent Jones’ bad luck was not over.

Proud Spell had a disastrous trip, getting shut off on the inside and hitting the rail, then racing erratically down the stretch. She managed to finish second behind the up-and-coming star Music Note, but as a final indignity, was disqualified and placed third, returning with several cuts near her coronet band. Solar Flare appeared to have the Suburban won in deep stretch, but let the longshot Frost Giant, whom he had passed, come back and beat him by a half-length.

After the race, Jones sat on the back of his pickup truck outside the detention barn. When someone commented, “Rough day,” Jones, with a smile on his face, replied, “The Derby was rough. I got two horses walkin’ around in that barn over there, and that’s the most important thing to me right now.”

With his priorities in order and his ordeal behind him, Jones set his sights on the second half of the year. On July 12, Proud Spell won the Delaware Oaks (gr. II). Two weeks later, his latest acquisition, Kodiak Kowboy, won the grade II Amsterdam at Saratoga. Even Stones River got in the act by winning the Nick Shuk Memorial at Delaware Park on Aug. 2, the same day Shytoe Lafeet won the West Virginia Senate President’s Stakes at Mountaineer Park.

A week later, Maren’s Meadows upset the Monmouth Oaks (gr. III) with a wire-to-wire performance. Then came Jones’ most important weekend, in which he sent out Proud Spell against Music Note in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I), a race he considered a championship showdown. Down in New Jersey the same day, Cindy saddled the promising 4-year-old Honest Man in the $300,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth to determine the colt’s status in the older horse division.

First, it was Honest Man’s turn, as he drew clear of the favorite, Grasshopper, to win the Iselin by 2 3/4 lengths, earning himself a possible berth in the Sept. 27 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II).

Then it was the Alabama and possibly Proud Spell’s last chance to stamp herself as the leading 3-year-old filly in the country. When Music Note followed up her Mother Goose victory with a resounding 11-length romp in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) in a sharp 2:01 3/5 for the 1 1/4 miles, she became the new darling of the 3-year-old filly division.

Proud Spell, having run the only dull race of her career in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) over the Polytrack at Keeneland, did not have the Breeders’ Cup on her schedule, making the Alabama a must win. Music Note, coming off her spectacular victory at 10 furlongs, was made the 2-5 favorite in the five-horse field, coupled with stablemate Little Belle, who had beaten Proud Spell in the Ashland and was second behind Music Note in the CCA Oaks coming off a layoff. Proud Spell was next in the wagering at 9-5.

All week, the Godolphin brain trust had discussed whether to run Music Note in the Alabama or wait for the Travers (gr. I) the following week and try her against the colts. It wasn’t until the morning of the Alabama that they decided to stick with the fillies rather than run against 11 colts in the Travers.

It was the decision Jones had been hoping for. “I needed her to run in this race, where they could hook heads,” Jones said. “If they had voted for champion the day before the race, heck, Music Note would have gotten it, based mostly on one race. Proud Spell winning the Kentucky Oaks and beating Indian Blessing in the Fair Grounds Oaks was history; it meant nothing. So for Proud Spell’s sake, we needed to take Music Note on.”

Before the race, Jones gave Saez explicit instructions: “Do not let Music Note in front. I don’t care if you have to ride her all the way to the barn area, down Nelson Avenue, or what, she don’t get in front.”

Proud Spell had never been passed in the stretch. “When she puts that eyeball on you, you’re pretty much at her mercy,” Jones said. “She somehow can find it in herself to stay in front.”

What followed was one of the great battles in memory, the kind of which champions are made. 

Following a sluggish half in :50 3/5 and three-quarters in a snail-like 1:14 3/5, Proud Spell moved up to challenge Little Belle, whose lethargic pace did nothing to help Music Note, who was last in the five-horse field. With Proud Spell dogging her the whole way, Little Belle’s tactics made her stablemate’s job a lot tougher. Through a fourth quarter around the far turn in a sharp :24 1/5, Proud Spell cruised up to challenged Little Belle, while Music Note had to be pushed along by Javier Castellano in order to close the gap.

Both fillies went by Little Belle turning for home and the battle everyone had wanted to see was on. When Music Note moved alongside Proud Spell, Saez, after a pair of right-handed whips, switched to his left hand in order to let Proud Spell move out and look her opponent in the eye, as Jones had wanted. Once she did, she dug in and refused to let Music Note by. Saez, switched back to his right hand and gave Proud Spell several smacks over the shoulder. Proud Spell began to inch away, and although the margin was only a head, the issue was never in doubt in the final yards.

It was a shame either filly had to get beat. This was Music Note’s first time around two turns and her first gut-check. But in the end, it was the tenacious, battle-tested Proud Spell who prevailed.

“Hopefully, that will settle the Eclipse Award,” Jones said. “I just can’t see them settling it on an artificial surface and using that as the one-race measure. That’s why they have dirt horses and they have turf horses. And now you need a third kind of horse. I know we’re not looking to go to the Breeders’ Cup with Proud Spell.

“She wasn’t comfortable on the Polytrack at Keeneland. We work over the Tapeta track here at Fair Hill, and while it’s good for her to train on it, she still works slow, and had a slow work over it for the Alabama, considering the effort she put into it.”

After a tumultuous two months, Jones has been able to regroup and steer himself back on course. That familiar broad smile and the “good ‘ol boy” quips have returned. 

“Everything is going extremely well now; we’ve been very blessed,” he said. “It’s been one whale of a roller coaster ride, to be honest with you, but at least we’re back on the upside now.”



Leave a Comment:


Love Miss Proud Spell!!  Congratulations to Larry & his team---glad to see them back on a positive streak!

18 Aug 2008 10:37 AM

Glad to see Mr. Jones back on track with a super filly! If he ever needs to know, horsemen all over N.A. are with him 100%.

18 Aug 2008 10:41 AM

Larry Jones deserves all the accolades he receives.  I'm certain he will be criticized for avoiding the BC at Santa Anita, but when you're trying to win an Eclipse award with a filly who has shown she doesn't particularly relish a synthetic surface and she has the prospect of hooking an older filly like Zenyatta who loves it....well, it's really a no-brainer.  Good luck to Larry!

18 Aug 2008 10:55 AM

Wanda, just curious if you ever brought up the question to your husband about the question I had asked :

Wanda, since you brought up the fact "My husband is the race operations foreman here" , I have a question for either you or he. I have wondered and looking for someone's opinion. I have to trust your judgement on this one. Would it make a difference if any of the following were incorporated into the racing surface .......

" shredded coconut hulls" ,  " shredded bamboo " or " pulverized / crushed nut shells ". Also, how about the addition of perlite?

18 Aug 2008 11:03 AM

Steve, Thanks for the great POSITIVE blog. Larry is one of the good guys. Like Frank Lyons said this weekend, he and Larry were both born with a wooden spoon in their mouths. Lucky them, I was born with NO spoon in mine. I know first hand and recently how unfair misinformed attacks can be. I always root for the underdog and anyone who, like Larry and myself worked our way up thru the world to become a somebody, couldn't be cheering harder for Larry and his outfit.

18 Aug 2008 11:04 AM

Great to see Larry smiling again.  Good luck to he and Cindy the rest of the year!

18 Aug 2008 11:13 AM

Anyone care to set up a collection fund for Santa Anita to put in dirt? The BC will be a bust and seriously damage the interest of the races if things remain as planned. How many top horses will be at home? Can't say I have any interest in watching.

18 Aug 2008 11:26 AM
starred chestnut

I love Larry's demeanor and attitude when he hit the spotlight with Hard Spun last year. I was apalled that anyone pointed a finger at him with Eight Belles....

but I am curious to know if anything has been clarified about the the incident. I know that she was steroid-free, but what else has the autopsy brought about? There is one shot of her in the derby when they all were turning and she turned her head sharply to the outside. I thought she took a bad step there and was surprised to see her take off after Big Brown.  I am just surprised things haven't been examined or publicized more closely, especially with all the criticism of her inbreeding to Mr. Prospecter, etc. Chelokee took an obvious bad step the day before the derby and no one was all over his breeding....

18 Aug 2008 11:43 AM

UCLinden: Can't answer that one, I'll ask the better half. We are in western Canada so coconut trees are pretty scarce!

18 Aug 2008 11:47 AM

Not trying to be Debbie Downer, but how did this race settle the 3 YO filly title when they stand at 1-1?

That said, I'd have no problem with Proud Spell winning the title; She's very good, and it would be nice for Larry.

18 Aug 2008 12:01 PM

Proud Spell is awesome!  And so is Larry Jones..  After this past year, he might be the easiest person in this sport to root for.. Best of luck the rest of the way!

18 Aug 2008 12:08 PM

Here, here.  You're a class act, Mr. Jones.

18 Aug 2008 12:28 PM


18 Aug 2008 12:29 PM
The Deacon

Congrats to Larry Jones and his team, I thought he handled he did a great job with Hard Spun last year when many folks doubted him. The Alabama Stakes proves to me that there is still great racing and great stretch duels out there and that we do not need synthetic surfaces to convolute this once great sport. We should ban all drugs, clean up the diluted breeding, and take the emphasis off speed. Bring back more long distance races. The Alabama was a wonderful race to watch, it reminded me of yesterdays thrilling stetch duels.

Larry Jones has done a brilliant job with Proud Spell. He is no more to blame for Eight Belles, then Jacinto Vasquez was to Ruffian. Bad things sometimes just happen...............

18 Aug 2008 12:50 PM

I didn't realize that Larry Jones hurt this bad after the Eight Belles tragedy, I'm happy he relied on his faith to pull him through this ordeal. He will probably never enter another filly in the KD again which is sad if he has another one like EB. PETA is cruel and inhuman for jumping on his back like that, this man does not deserve that kind of treatment.

18 Aug 2008 1:17 PM

Steve, Thanks for the article. Larry is like so many of the trainers who are beat up every day. He's a hardworking, honest man and anyone who loves racing, loves him and those like him.

Clay, I think Larry has more courage than to let a bunch of mean spirited people stop him from doing what he or any of his horses do best. As far as PETA, it's hard to believe those and the ones like them have any empathy for horses when they show the kind of inhumanity they do to their fellow man.

18 Aug 2008 1:38 PM

Thanks Steve for another thorough and insightful article. Happy to say that I always learn something new while being entertained at the same time.

18 Aug 2008 2:08 PM

Wow, this piece really drew me in, nice job Steve. That duel was indeed great and exciting.

Its good to see Proud Spell win, I  love that horse and I really like Larry Jones, so that is great for his family as well.

18 Aug 2008 2:24 PM

Also, the Del Shannon reference is quite welcome.

18 Aug 2008 2:38 PM

Larry Jones is a total class act! I wish all trainers could be like him! I shook his hand after the race (along with scads of others), & you could see he was deeply touched. Just love that Proud Spell!

18 Aug 2008 2:49 PM

It's awesome to see Larry and the crew winning all these races instead of being the center of PETA's rein of terror and disrespect.

18 Aug 2008 3:23 PM

Anyone who knows horses, knows Larry and Cindy Jones care about theirs.  I was at the Alabama and very pleased to see Proud Spell win.  It is a shame that such a great race didn't have more competitors.  Larry and Cindy, keep up the great work.  

18 Aug 2008 3:33 PM

Larry Jones has been a favorite of nine for some time, as my family hails from the Henderson, Ky area.  

One of the things that I see that  certainly his BIG horses; Hard Spun, Eight Belles and Proud Spell had in common to a marked degree, was their sheer determination-win or lose-when the race is on the line.  It tells me that they are happy, content, well prepared and conditioned horses, who enjoy what they are doing.

Proud Spell deserves her Eclipse award and it would be really cool if the next Triple Crown winner came out of Larry and Cindy's barn!

18 Aug 2008 4:00 PM

Glad to hear Larry and his crew are doing better. They didn't deserve to have all that pain and scorn inflicted on them.  I've always loved Proud Spell and I loved her race. I hope to see her as a four year old.

18 Aug 2008 4:16 PM

Great to see that nice guys-I'm being inclusive there-do finish first.  It's obvious again that Larry cares for his horses, in his decision not to make the trip to an unknown surface.  We lost one of the greats today in Genuine Risk; this story reminds us the champs keep coming.

18 Aug 2008 4:37 PM

Congratulations Larry and Cindy Jones on your beautiful victory with Proud Spell in the Alabama.  I hope she brings you the Eclipse 3-year-old champion honor.  I fell in love with Hard Spun last year when I first saw him on TV winning the Lane's End, I knew he was special.  I have been an admirer of yours (and of Hard Spun) ever since.  I was present to enjoy your victory with Buy the Barrel in the Allaire DuPonte Distaff.  I saw you walking Buy the Barrel around the paddock but I was too shy to say hello.  I wish I had!  Continued great luck, Helen.

18 Aug 2008 5:03 PM

There is no doubt Larry loves these horses. He was clearly devastated when Eight Belles lost her life. Proud Spell is a sensational filly! Great Job Larry..

Steve: I just finished reading your book Dr. Fager..... LOVED IT! I'm on to the the next one. Many thanks for sending those books to me! When I am reading your writing, whether a book or an article or a blog, I am front and center and have the best seat in the house!

18 Aug 2008 5:15 PM

Ahh, but the next line of the Del Shannon hit is "He broke your heart" Maybe it alluded to the post race feelings of Team Music Note.

It certainly could allude to what Eight Belles kept doing to my wallet at Oaklawn last winter and spring.

Look forward to seeing the Jones stable in action there next year.

18 Aug 2008 6:17 PM

Larry's wife is a big part of that show too...Long Live The Dirt!!!

18 Aug 2008 6:17 PM

    Great to see Mr. Jones doing well again.  He's truly a class act.  It's great that he didn't let PETA and their baseless claims and publicity stunts get the best of him.  He deserves all the accolades and results he is getting.

    Tiznowbaby, I can see your point but, I think Larry is right.  Unless Music Note can win out and that would mean winning her next prep and then defeating Zenyatta, Ginger Punch and Hystericalady in the Distaff, even though Proud Spell and Music Note are 1-1 against each other, the Eclipse voters would use the last time they met as their measuring stick, especially since it was the only time the two met around two turns.  I think a win in the Distaff against the previously mentioned tough mares would give the edge to Music Note, but I can't see her winning that race so the edge goes to Proud Spell right now.  Things can always change though.

    I hope both fillies continue racing at age 4.  Having great fillies like these two continue racing would only help bolster the filly and mare division as the strongest in racing these days.  It would make the Distaff (or Lady's Classic if you prefer) the best race to watch at the Breeders Cup again next year.  

18 Aug 2008 6:36 PM
Johnny B.

Congrats Larry and Cindy,

Proud Spell is the champion three year old filly. She has the heart of a champion. I loved the battle in the Alabama at Ole Saratoga. I bet on Proud Spell and Honest Man. Larry, you are a great horseman my friend.

18 Aug 2008 8:48 PM

Steve are you giving away books? Put me on the list.

18 Aug 2008 9:18 PM
Track Bum

In the past I was not a fan of Larry Jones' good-ol-boy comments.  As they say you can better judge a man's character during times of trouble.  Mr. Jones handled the unjustified abuse heaped upon him with class and dignity.  I am converted and will forever more be a fan of Jones and his barn.

18 Aug 2008 9:41 PM

Curlin, we do have some great fillies don't we. I'm getting a bigger kick out of watching the females run since our top males are in the breeding shed. This is the way its going to be though, and thats alright with me. Larry Jones just has a way with fillies and owners know this. But he will never run another filly in the Kentucky Derby even if he's pressured to do it. Maybe no other filly from now on will run in the Kentucky Derby because of too much negativity from activists and the unlearned.

Proud Spell is one 'ell of a filly. I only bet on Music Note because of the ontrack handicappers comments. Man I hate those guys, just give me the scratches and quit trying to change my mind!

18 Aug 2008 9:55 PM
Dreamer's Mom

Totally off subject, but if Mr Jones is reading this I am wondering what happened to Ferragamo?  If he's needing a new home, we have lots of lovely mares for him!  

Back to the task at hand.  While I disagreed with running Eight Belles in the Derby, I cheered loudly for Proud Spell because I want to win that race some day.  Watching a tough filly run is a thing of beauty!

18 Aug 2008 9:56 PM

What a feel good story! It's always heartwarming when the good guys, in this case Larry Jones, come out on top.  Hard work and the determination to keep a positive outlook in the face of adversity has had a tremendous impact on his life. Continued success!

18 Aug 2008 10:17 PM

What is all this talk about not running a filly in the derby ever again??? If we don't see it again, it will be because of peta and activists. Not because filly's don't deserve to be in the race. Some truly great and talented filly's can run with the boys and I hope that never changes.

Wanda: I got the books from Steve during the trivia contests. Not because I knew the answers but because I asked for the sympathy prize ; )

18 Aug 2008 10:34 PM

More excellent writing Steve!  I'm thrilled to see good things happening for Mr and Mrs Jones. They seem to really love their horses and surely didn't deserve the awful treatment that was received.  Right on target JordanA about PETA!  What a group huh?  Concerned about horse abuse (without knowing the facts) but not concerned when they are abusers of humans!  

18 Aug 2008 10:40 PM


I have a feeling you are putting together a piece on Genuine Risk. I hope you are. I can't wait to read it. RIP GR.

18 Aug 2008 10:45 PM

Dreamer's Mom, Eight Belles beat 18 colts on derby day, and no doubt she was the best filly in the nation. After all, Larry did start EB in the derby instead of Proud Spell. The horse we honor today is Genuine Risk, derby winner of 1980. A trainer won't start a filly in the derby unless he thinks she belongs, and EB did. Breakdowns are an unfortunate event in our sport no matter what the surface. I do believe there will be good come out of that tragic event, commissioners are already seeing to that.

18 Aug 2008 11:14 PM


Beg, borrow or buy the books. Steve was kind enough to offer to replace mine when they wear out, but I didn't want to be greedy. I'm lucky enough that I have the whole Legends series in hardback and a few of my favorites in paperback duplicates courtesy of a favorite aunt who remembered when I could barely afford to buy the LA Times to read about horse racing and thought Christmas had come early when I could buy the Form (DRF) I think it was 1.50 or $2 then. Tales From the Triple Crown is another great one. And no folks, this isn't a comped advertisement.

18 Aug 2008 11:16 PM

Class,integrity and beauty for Eight Belles,Proud Spell and all involved.Thank you for sharing!

18 Aug 2008 11:17 PM


Wonderful to see coverage of such a first class, Grade A guy as Larry Jones.

I'm appalled that people would actually send that man hate mail after the tragedy of Eight Belles - but I guess lunatics are everywhere.  Question:  can you offer an address we could write him to show that there are far more people supporting him and his team?  If not - would you at least forward our collective comments to him from this blog?

Question two:  did they ever nail the SOB who did that to Jones' pony and the race horse in his stable?  I'm hoping they did - but hadn't heard definitive info.

Question three:  do you think that the Alabama really settled the three-year-old filly championship?  What if Music Note runs big at BC?  If she does run, I mean?

Thanks again - a wonderful blog and a truly deserving, first class gentleman!

18 Aug 2008 11:18 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm away all this week and will try to respond to as many as I can when I return. Quickly, for now, Larry can probably be reached by addressing your mail to c/o Fair Hill Training Center, Fair Hill, Md. Dont have the zip. I'll check to see if there's a better address, but that should work.

19 Aug 2008 12:28 AM

Cgriff, yes, it was a disgruntled employee. Supposedly unrelated but who knows. They also suspected a frame in the drug positive. Lovely people who will stop at nothing.

19 Aug 2008 12:55 AM

Me again, Karen2 actually one of the series in the Legends books is Genuine Risk, not Steve but still good. They still have the Hardcover edition for sale on Exclusively Equine. Read the Ladies of Racing, Steve on LS.

No Steve I'm not auditioning for a job as your publicist.

19 Aug 2008 1:08 AM

Larry Jones always has wonderful horses with grit and determination. Hard Spun was my favorite of the wonderful 2007 group.  He gave his all every race of the Triple Crown even though, after the Derby, he couldn't win it.  Hard Spun took everything in stride, never gave up and behaved like a gentleman.  And so does Larry Jones. Through all his troubles he has remained a gentleman.  I believe his horses reflect the man.

19 Aug 2008 8:43 AM

Another BC defection (Proud Spell) Maybe the decision to race on a to-be-built surface for the next two years was a another BC bad move blunder.Some horses don't like the land-fill tracks, some high profile trainers don't either,and most importantly neither do the bettors that keep this sport alive.  

19 Aug 2008 9:36 AM

Steve, as always, your writing is captivating and wonderful to read.  Thank you so much for devoting this column to such a great subject!  Last year's triple crown races made me a fan of Larry Jones as I learned about him then due to Hard Spun's phenomenal run, but I've become a bigger fan of him as I've learned more.  Thank you for sharing your insight with us and thank you to Larry Jones and family for keeping going in spite of all the tragedy and the wickedness of some people.  The Alabama was a race to remember - go Proud Spell!!


19 Aug 2008 9:43 AM

Wonderful,insightful writing, Steve.

I saw Eight Belles working with the colts during Derby week. She belonged.

I am deeply sorry for the pain that the PETA charges brought to the Jones family, whom were already hurting from EB's loss.

For a bunch of folks who represent themselves as humane...their attacks were inhuman and cruel.

19 Aug 2008 9:46 AM

Bradgm: Have you read Jim Squires book? Another one I have that's signed by the author is The Greatest Show On Turf by Perry Lefko. Published in 1996 it's a history of the Breeders Cup. He's Canadian eh?

19 Aug 2008 10:40 AM

Karen2, You are exactly right, it would be a travesty if they didn't run a filly in the derby again. I believe there is at least 1 filly a year that deserves the shot. But like you said, PETA will make sure that doesn't happen again. This of coarse is just my opinion but if you think about it, what trainer is going to have the nerve to do it? Maybe when all this blows over, 20 years possibly, we can once again have the hope a filly can contend in the biggest race of the year.

19 Aug 2008 10:56 AM
TouchStone Farms

Wanda must have been sleeping during the running of the "Kentucky Oaks" It took Proud Spell nearly falling on her head out of the gate for Music Note to beat her how you would consider them even? When it came down to "gut check time" Proud Spell riveted home who owns the eclipse. Further to the Alabama- Godolphin thought they would use the entry to run Proud Spell off her feet so Music Note would be fresh for the stretch run.....only it didn't work! I've trained for over thirty years and haven't seen a champion more deserving than Proud Spell. Great job Larry!


19 Aug 2008 11:28 AM

Once again, Steve, great article that captures what a lot of us think about Larry Jones and his team. He's a quality guy who even when beat fairly takes it graciously and respects opponents.

I only wish he had been allowed to have Hard Spun one more year. You know that like his 3-yr old season Larry would not race him in a mere 3 or 4 races like a wilting flower.

19 Aug 2008 12:14 PM


I wouldn't know where to write you, but I know Steve does.

While PETA may get its members to write hate mail, know that there are thousands of us out there who truly sympathized with you over your loss of Eight Belles - how heart breaking to lose someone you knew and loved so well.

Even if it was a 'bad' employee, that someone would hurt horses or let them out sounds like PETA.  They did this to a mink farm, and of course what free minks do to each other is pretty bloody.  This is not an organization that has any influence with people of reason.

I know you are a trainer of concern and good repute.  I hope everything keeps going your way while your heart heals.

19 Aug 2008 12:33 PM

TouchStone Farms: Please go back and read stuff again. I never made any comment about Proud Spell vs Music Note. All I said was that I'm glad Mr. Jones has a super filly after the tragic spring he had.

19 Aug 2008 2:06 PM


Thanks for bringing my suspicions to life in your blog entry.  I remembered the PETA incident with the mink farm, but couldn't recall clearly the details to the point that I felt comfortable voicing my suspicions regarding what happened to Jones' horses and the frame up on the positive.

As you can see - I'm no fan of PETA.  There is a difference between those who fight rationally for positive change and those who - desperate for attention or lacking fulfillment in their lives - lock on to some sort of cause and agitate without purpose.

ASPCA is an effective organization for positive change.  PETA is an agitant - one that is many times made ridiculous by its own warped agenda and terroristic tactics.

I certainly wouldn't put it past them to hurt and endanger animals to "save" them.  

19 Aug 2008 2:19 PM


I think you underestimate how brave people in horse racing are and how much they believe in the horses they run. The racing industry is like all of those with the pioneer spirit, you get hurt, beat down get back up etc. If they don't run a deserving filly then they may as well stop running any of them because that will give the radicals the impetus they need to stop it all, racing would be giving up and the radicals will have won.  The game is based on taking a chance with a superb animal. If a filly comes along like a Winning Colors my bet is she'll be run and like Dan Fogelberg's song says

"And it's run for the roses

As fast as you can

Your fate is delivered

Your moment's at hand

It's the chance of a lifetime

In a lifetime of chance"


Someone in a comment on another blog wrote that there is a huge difference between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights. You want to read a great article on Animal Welfare by racetrackers, read the NYRA story on the 'ponys' on the track, including Funny Cide.

19 Aug 2008 3:22 PM

Clay, 5 trainers names popped into my head before I finished reading your sentence and about the same number of owners as to who would run a filly that fits. I know for a fact that Larry isn’t the first to be attacked and won’t be the last. Maybe not to the same extreme or maybe the others aren’t as gentle in spirit as Larry and Cindy seem to be. Not saying the others are callous but maybe a few more bad experiences and everyone handles things differently, including the people who write about the incidents. You know it’s  'In for a penny, in for a pound' and run horses is what they do. A robust, sound filly, why not?  I’ll take a Genuine Risk, Winning Colors any day.

Wanda,  “Horse of A Different Color” absolutely,  also love his articles in the NY Times. His BB before the Belmont, I think you’ll like it. The other one, can’t remember. My house has a library in it, but it’s starting to look like a Library with bedrooms and a kitchen and I’m trying to cut back my book buying.

19 Aug 2008 4:56 PM
Dreamer's Mom

All I meant about not running Eight Belles in the Derby is that I, as a trainer, would not have done it.  Maybe some Friday night allowance race against the boys, but I just don't like to run my girls against the boys.  No harm, no foul, just the way I train.  I'd rather walk across the street and take the money and I think Eight Belles and Proud Spell could have gone one and two in the Oaks.  I have no doubt Eight Belles had tons of talent, it's just not how I train.  

19 Aug 2008 5:09 PM
The Colonel

I feel terrible for wanting Music Note to win the Alabama as I'm generally a big fan of A.P. Indy but kudos to Proud Spell for helping to shut up all the detractors! The one thing more awful than having a horse never return to the barn is having people accuse you of running that horse to his/her death, especially when these people don't know what they're talking about.

It's a shame that so many people are loathe to care about the next two years of the Breeder's Cup because of the decision for Santa Anita and its synth track to host it. I'm not fond of it, too, especially with the reception for the California contenders for the Triple Crown, but I always find myself defending it. Weird.

I hope Proud Spell and Music Note keep running the rest of the year before we decide who wins the championship. I feel it's too early to have it all set in stone.

19 Aug 2008 9:28 PM
Secretariat's Secretary

Steve you are awesome!

Larry, everyone involved in our industry knows what a great horseman you are. In the end, all the ignorance will fade away, and everybody will continue to remember and respect you for what you are. A class act ethical man!

19 Aug 2008 9:55 PM

Bighorsefan & Bradgm-

Thanks for giving me a little more confidence. Horse trainers are a tough group and I didn't keep this in mind. Someone does need to step to the forefront next year, enter a filly, and put this incident to bed. But when he or she does the media and activists will respond with "remember what happened to the last filly that ran". A lot of controversy here. If that filly happens to break down its going to be a circus. It will make the EB tragedy seem like a walk in the park. I guess we will see which trainer has the most mettle in deciding to run a filly for the roses.

20 Aug 2008 9:30 AM
Bryce Be Quick

Larry has been a most-welcomed addition to the scene at Fair Hill, MD, where he now has his barn and operation based.

What a "Filly Specialist" you are--just what do you whisper in their ear to make 'em think it was THEIR idea to do whatever needs doing?

Need more like you in the game, My Friend.

20 Aug 2008 10:43 AM

Congratulations, Larry & Cindy,

Proud Spell raced a terric race on Saturday and everyone was pulling for her.

Eight Belles was watching over her and running with her.

Bless all of you.

20 Aug 2008 12:50 PM

Dreamer's Mom, good that you'll stick to your guns, whatever works for you. Of course I'm often reminded by the fairer sex that girls mature faster than boys (some of us never grow up). Seems like the same holds true in the equines. How many times have the 2 year olds beaten the boys times in comparable races (like BC Uuv and Juv Fillies). Winning Colors was bigger and more put together than the boys. I say they catch up but think about females vs males as youngsters how many boys are actually scared of girls until about age 7, a lot more than will admit. I've asked trainers that I know and most said they would do it. We know some of the big trainers back East too, but maybe that's a subject Steve could address with some of them. That would be an interesting first hand account, straight from the horses (trainers) mouth. As for the IF, well as my friend Jordy said IF I Win the lottery I'll buy a super filly run her in the Derby IF she fits and I know just the trainer I'd give her to. And Clay, you think if a colt breaks down in the Derby and has to be put down on the track there won't be a similar outcry? That's the way it works, the higher the profile the bigger the involvement. Dreamers Mom will run her filly against the boys in a Fri nite allowance race, why? If the filly breaks down she still does, only difference is the radicals don't have an audience so they won't be around.

20 Aug 2008 3:08 PM
Bryce Be Quick

Steve and All-

Larry Jones is in the newly built Rick Porter barn-- Parlo VI at Fair Hill, as follows:

Larry Jones

Fair Hill Training Center

464 Training Center Drive

Parlo VI

Elkton, MD 21921

20 Aug 2008 7:42 PM

Steve: Outstanding writing as always and thanks for sending out such public support of Larry, he deserves this pat on the back and an attaboy from the industry after enduring such a tough year with dignity and grace.

Larry: I am happy that your fortunes are turning for the better.  No one should have to lose a horse and suffer the indignities that you did at the hands of PETA.  I wish that someone would sue the snot out of them and hold them accountable for the damage their actions caused!

20 Aug 2008 10:28 PM

Why do I like Larry so much? I didn't like his whining about Street Sense. Being a huge A.P. Indy fan I was rooting for Music Note. By how about the little Proud Spell!!! She's kind of what Larry Jones is all about -- just like Hard Spun who won over my heart in 07.

I certainly wanted to write Larry after the Eight Belles tragedy. What a supercharged, hypocritical society!!! Larry's another breath of fresh air that the industry needed. He's a total outcross to some of our other great characters like Zito and Lucas.

I lived through "fires" in my career like Larry was subjected to after the Derby. Me and tens of thousands of others were there with you Larry.

21 Aug 2008 12:50 PM

Jim, I agree, Larry is sure one of the good guys in our industry. He said he idolized Lukas and sought his advice about running Eight Belles as well as asking LeRoy Jolley for his advice the two who won the Derby with Fillies. Zito, refuses to get into the fray with Dutrow, yet in his own brand of humor puts him in his place.

Jerkens, Mott, Matz, Tagg join with the others as stalwarts of the industry. Each have their own unique qualities, way of speaking but my perception is that none of these gentlemen would knowingly do anything to harm racing and Larry Jones ranks right there with them.

21 Aug 2008 9:12 PM
Bryce Be Quick


realize your list not meant to be all-inclusive by any means, but since you have mention Matz, one of Larry's fellow Fair Hill-based trainers, let me quickly add a second--  H. Graham Motion and his team at Herringswell Stable-- you won't find anything even remotely performance-enhancing in Motion's medicine cabinet-- he's a hay, oats and water guy bar none.

He is a superlative horsemen with the game in his genes-- his Dad with a distinguished career as a blood stock agent and a longtime Tattersalls rep, his Mom rode in England and an assistant trainer on both sides of the Atlantic, before opening her tack shop down in Middleburg, VA. The wonderful job Herringswell does helping to keep Better Talk Now sound and on the track a testimony to their no-nonsense "horse first" training approach.

22 Aug 2008 11:47 AM


Of course. I'm sure you noticed they are more the older trainers and I even excluded a few of those.

Graham is still one of the younger crowd, and I left those off as well as some of the wonderful female trainers like Carla Gaines, Helen Pitts and Linda Rice. Steve would send me poison pen letters (emails) if I mentioned all of them. Just a follow thru on Jim, the more iconic trainers, Derby winners, giant killer, Cigar more those who are spokespersons and what they would or wouldn't say to embarrass the industry.

22 Aug 2008 6:39 PM
Dreamer's Mom

I believe I said "maybe" I would run against the boys in a Friday night allowance race.  To date, I have not. The difference in that race and the Derby is all the stress involved BEFORE the race.  Barn personnel may think it's business as usual, but it isn't and the horses pick up on that pretty quickly.  I just won't add more stress than necessary.  

22 Aug 2008 8:43 PM

Dreamers Mom,

I'm not knocking the way you do things. I just know all my trainer friends want that horse they can run in the BIG races. Of course it's like every field, if we didn't have the horses running at the smaller tracks and in the lower level races it would be so elitist no one would have much interest. My POINT is the people that targeted Larry would be very unlikely to target people who aren't in the limelight. As for me, the big races would be my DREAM. Your handle is kind of a misnomer because Dreamer was the filly who ran in the Classic, fought bias etc. With a handle like that I figured you'd be shooting for the stars. Of course like I said in my previous post one has to have the Filly/colt that fits.

23 Aug 2008 11:44 AM

I read Dreamers Mom’s comment and was trying to assimilate it. I can’t.  As a trainer I’m just boggled that someone who says they are a race horse trainer says she wouldn’t run a horse that fits in a big race. If I had a Winning Colors in my barn and told the owner I didn’t want to ‘stress her out’ by running her in the Derby or even the Oaks (which is not quite as crazy as Derby day, but close to), that filly would be out of my barn so fast I wouldn’t know what happened and shoot, I’d take her away from me too, and go get a job at something guaranteed not to be stressful or risky. That’s what horse racing is, that is the whole premise it is built on taking a risk for reward.  I do not know one single trainer who would not run a horse, mare, colt or filly in a race that they SHOULD be in. If the animal is healthy, sound, happy, fits the conditions and has the turn of foot to run in the race it’s a disservice to the horse and everyone involved NOT to run the horse.  Yes there’s a chance of injury, that chance always exists. But I could try to avoid the dangers of  being around the race horses by staying in bed with my head covered up and a plane could crash into the house and kill me. I’m not saying run an animal where they are way out of their league, you have more trainers pressured into that than you’d ever have pressured into keeping a qualified animal out of a race.

23 Aug 2008 11:14 PM
Bryce Be Quick

katsab-- actually, Matz was still show jumping when Motion broke into the game. As I recall, Matz opened for business with a 3-horse stable in just 1998, whereas Motion dates to at least the mid-80's, having worked with Jonathan Sheppard before heading out on his own circa-1991.

Agree with you completely re: Helen Pitts-- wonderful horsewoman who like Motion, seemingly comes by it via the family genes, growing up Northern Baltimore County (Monkton) and the hunt country. Sure laid a great foundation for Curlin. Wish he was still with her-- such is the nature of the game and what happens at times when a horse changes ownership hands.

24 Aug 2008 10:31 AM

Whatamidoing:I'm with you totally on that one. I thought it, but got busy and didn't log on.I had a 3 year old filly long ago and ran her against the boys. She kicked butt and was 2/5 off the track record with the rider never cocking the stick.I guess what everyones saying is that given the chance we all would have taken the shot if we trained Eight Belles.

Hey say hi to my friend Atthebarn2. The home boys got to keep in touch.

24 Aug 2008 6:16 PM

Yes I know that about Mike Matz, but face it, being an older person myself of course I'm talking about the older trainers as in age. There are many good young trainers, I don't know near as much about Motion and really only know more about Mike because of Barbaro and how well he handled the public side of that. That is what I am trying to talk about as it relates to Larry and how he handled the situation he was in after being viciously attacked. Most of the others have dealt with similar situations. I'm not even referring to the locale the trainer is from. I guess more than anything is the level of public recognition the trainers that I named have with the general public or casual fan, not just the horse racing industry.

24 Aug 2008 7:32 PM

Wanda have had a few decent ones myself, what a rush and source of pride. I bet Dallas would tell you right about now that his colt got roughed up pretty good. Will give a shout out, a lot are pulling up stakes and moving on to Turfway, Belmont wherever, I'm sure you know the routine.

25 Aug 2008 1:54 PM

Thanks for the comeback Whatamidoing.Yup I vagely remember packing up and heading down the road. But I got to tell you never on the east coast of either country.That was one rough race wasn't it? Caught it on Woodbine Live.Thanks again for the imfo and insights. I live it thru all the comments you all are so kind to provide me with.Take care and drive safe.

25 Aug 2008 2:09 PM

Thanks for the comeback Whatamidoing.Yup I vagely remember packing up and heading down the road. But I got to tell you never on the east coast of either country.That was one rough race wasn't it? Caught it on Woodbine Live.Thanks again for the imfo and insights. I live it thru all the comments you all are so kind to provide me with.Take care and drive safe.

25 Aug 2008 2:11 PM

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