For a Hall of Fame trainer, Leroy Jolley couldn’t keep any lower
profile on the Saratoga backstretch. With just two stalls in
trainer Steve Margolis’ barn, Jolley isn’t exactly in town to make a big impact;
he shows up every morning and has a good feeling about his 2-year-old First
Samurai filly, Lady Samuri, who was
nominated to the Adirondack but ran poorly in
“I missed a couple years here and
there, but I’ve been coming here since I was here with my parents,” said Jolley,
fit and strong at 74, on Saturday morning.
Jolley took out his training
license in 1958 and earned his fame training the likes of Ridan , Kentucky Derby-winning filly Genuine Risk,
champion Foolish Pleasure, the great 2-year-old star filly Meadow Star, Honest
Pleasure and What a Summer, among others.
He also trained two Whitney
Handicap winners, Nearly on Time in 1977 and Track Barron in 1985, and has some
good memories of the race, particularly when Nearly on Time upset the great
“With Nearly on Time, it was
very, very sloppy and Forego was an overpowering favorite, but he couldn’t run
in the mud because he was so big,” Jolley said.
Jolley also said the best Test
winner he ever saw was Go For Wand, who won the great sprint for 3-year-old
fillies in 1990.
“She had been off a couple months
and faced 12 and carried 124 pounds and went seven furlongs in 1:21,” Jolley
said, recalling the race like it was yesterday.
Asked where he lives, Jolley
said, “Wherever my horses are. We come up here (to Saratoga ) in May and stay
until November. It’s a very good place to train. The Oklahoma is probably the
finest, safest training track in the country.”
Near the end of a long, breezy
conversation Jolley was told he was just 10 wins away from 1,000 for his career.
He cocked an eyebrow.
“Really?” he said. “I hope I make