Loyd Gentry, who trained Graustark, Kauai King and Proud
Clarion, the 1967 Kentucky Derby winner who held one of the race’s fastest
times, died July 1, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky of heart failure. He was 87 and lived in Stuart, Florida and
Gentry was born in Covington, Kentucky, on January 19, 1925
and earned the nickname Boo in early childhood while hanging onto the trousers
of his father and uncle Olin. He grew up
in Versailles, Indiana on his grandmother’s farm, attending school during the
winter months and joining his parents on the racetrack during the summer. He came into thoroughbred horse racing
naturally. His father twice rode in the
Kentucky Derby as a jockey before turning to training and was North America’s
leading trainer in 1929. His uncle, Olin
Gentry, managed Col. E.R. Bradley’s farm and was instrumental in breeding 188
stakes winners, twenty champions, and nine classic winners, including six
Kentucky Derby winners.
Loyd Gentry’s thoroughbred training career spanned six
decades and linked him to racing’s most prestigious names and stables. In the 1950s, he was head trainer for Captain
Harry F. Guggenheim’s Cain Hoy Stable.
The Guggenheim years were filled with fanfare, owing to the captain’s
great wealth and political power. During
a nine day period in 1955, Gentry won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland with
Racing Fool, the Derby Trial Stakes with Flying Fury, the Kentucky Oaks with
Lalun, and ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby with Racing Fool. Despite these wins, Gentry missed being at
the center of racing activity and eventually returned to central Kentucky.
His record speaks for itself. He won the Princess Pat in 1960 with Rose
Bower at Arlington Park and the important Matron Stakes at Belmont Park. He ran in the Kentucky Oaks three times,
winning twice with Lalun in 1955 and Hail to Patsy in 1969, and running second
in 1971 with Himalaya. His trainees,
Umbrella Fella and Royal Gunner won a number of two year old races, finishing
2-3 in the Arlington –Washington Futurity in 1966 for Mike Ford. He trained Dinner Partner for Ralph Wilson,
owner of the Buffalo Bills, winning stakes with her. She later became broodmare of the year in
1989 and produced a number of superb winners.
Gentry trained for the stables of John A. Bell III, Leslie
Combs and John Haynes, John W. Galbreath, Louis L. Haggin II, John D. Hertz,
Mike Ford, Ralph Wilson and George S. Humphrey, Secretary-Treasurer of the
United States. He trained Kauai King as
a two year old, breaking his maiden with him before giving up his public stable
to train privately for John Galbreath, turning over Kauai King to his good
friend Henry Forest . Kauai King later
went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 1966. Perhaps the fastest and best known horse
Gentry trained was Graustark, who was undefeated until his last race and whose
popularity was legendary in the media and with fans wherever Graustark went.
Until his death, Gentry continued to breed and train
thoroughbreds in the racing mecca that is a hallmark of central Kentucky.
Gentry served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II
and obtained his training license when the war ended. His first winner was a colt named Big Head at
Tijuana, Mexico in 1946 and his first stakes horse was Tomas winning at Fort
He was preceded in death by his first wife Katherine Clark
Gentry, as well as his only son, Loyd III.
He is survived by his wife Diane M. Curry, cousins Tom Gentry, Olin Gentry,
Kathleen Spears, Anne Eberhardt Keogh and
Daniel Eberhardt of Lexington, Kentucky.