LeRoy Jolley dies at 79

AP Photo
0 Comments

LeRoy Jolley, a Hall of Fame trainer who twice won the Kentucky Derby and was involved in one of thoroughbred racing’s most famous match races that ended in tragedy, has died. He was 79.

He died Monday.

Jolley won the 1975 Kentucky Derby with Foolish Pleasure, who went on to finish second in the Preakness and in the Belmont.

In 1980, Jolley won the Derby with Genuine Risk, only the second filly to win the Run for the Roses and the first in 65 years. In 1976, he trained 2-5 favorite Honest Pleasure to a second-place finish in the Derby, and he finished second in 1979 with General Assembly.

Jolley enjoyed a bit of crossover fame through a Miller Lite beer commercial in 1976 that featured him with Foolish Pleasure and Honest Pleasure.

On July 6, 1975, a match race was run between Foolish Pleasure and unbeaten filly Ruffian at Belmont Park. It was highly anticipated and attracted a crowd of over 50,000 and a huge television audience.

While on the lead, Ruffian broke down, snapping both sesamoid bones in her right front leg. She still tried to run and finish the race, which Foolish Pleasure won unchallenged. Ruffian underwent surgery and when the anesthesia wore off, she thrashed about wildly on the floor as if still running in the race. She had to be euthanized.

Jolley won two Breeders’ Cup races: the 1986 Turf with Manila and the 1990 Juvenile Fillies with Meadow Star.

Training mostly on the New York circuit, he saddled 991 winners in 6,907 career starts and had purse earnings of $35,125,553, according to Equibase.

During the height of his career from 1975-91, Jolley’s earnings often topped $1 million a year. Among his clients was investor Carl Icahn.

Jolley’s major stakes victories included the Travers, Whitney, Wood Memorial, Florida Derby, Metropolitan Handicap, Woodward Stakes, Arlington Million and Blue Grass.

In 1987, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Born Jan. 14, 1938, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Jolley was the son of famed trainer Moody S. Jolley. At age seven, he began cooling off horses after morning workouts for his father and spent summers working in his father’s barn.

Jolley took out his trainer’s license in 1958. His first stakes winner was Ridan, the co-champion 2-year-old male horse of 1961 that was owned by his parents. Riden won the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes in 1962.

He is survived by sons LeRoy Jr., who has trained horses, and Tim, and daughter Laurie.

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

hisa
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
1 Comment

NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”

Fractional interest in Flightline sells for $4.6 million

flightline horse
Silas Walker/Getty Images
1 Comment

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland says a 2.5% fractional interest in Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Flightline has sold for $4.6 million during a special auction before the start of its November Breeding Stock Sale.

Brookdale Farm’s Freddy Seitz signed the ticket for an undisclosed client, the track announced in a release. The sale comes a day after ownership of the 4-year-old son of Tapit retired the unbeaten colt following his record 8\-length victory in Saturday’s $6 million, Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline likely locked up Horse of the Year honors with his fourth Grade 1 victory in six starts by a combined victory margin of 71 lengths – dominance that has drawn comparisons to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.

Flightline will begin his breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but a stud fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the bay colt’s ownership, offered the fractional interest. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “make a big splash” and get more involved in the business.

“With a special horse like (Flightline) all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.

“There has never been a horse that has done what he has done for however many years, back to Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved, and this is kind of what he’s thinking.”