Hall of Fame Thoroughbred horse trainer Gary Jones, who operated a split stable between Santa Anita and Hollywood Park for several years, has died at the age of 76, it was announced Monday.
Jones, whose career accomplishments included earning more than $52 million in purses and 1,465 race victories, died Sunday at his Del Mar home following a lengthy illness. His son Marty, also a trainer, told the Thoroughbred Daily News that his father had been in hospice care and died of natural causes.
According to a statement released Monday afternoon by Santa Anita Park, Jones was a trainer “who redefined hands-on horsemanship” and had the speeding tickets to prove it.
“I gotta see ’em go myself,” he once said, when asked why he felt compelled to watch a set or two of his horses train in Inglewood prior to jumping in his car and taking the Harbor Freeway back to Arcadia in time to oversee the training of his Santa Anita-based charges. “I’ve got good people, but I just can’t take somebody else’s word for it. I want to see them myself.”
Born in Long Beach on June 16, 1944, the son of legendary trainer Farrell “Wild Horse” Jones took over his father’s stable in 1974 and trained 104 stakes winners over the next 22 years.
Jones won 15 race meet titles, including four at Santa Anita in Arcadia, where he set a record with 47 wins in 1976, ranks eighth all-time in Winter/Spring wins with 576 victories, and ninth all-time in stakes won with 72.
Notable horses under his training include Turkoman, an Eclipse Award winner named Champion Older Male in 1986, and Best Pal, the winner of the first Pacific Classic at Del Mar in 1991, as well as the Hollywood Gold Cup and Santa Anita Handicap.
Thoroughbred Daily News reported that heart problems led to Jones’ retirement in 1996.
He was elected to the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 2014.
Jones is survived by his wife Joanie and sons Marty and David, a Los Angeles-based attorney.
Funeral services are pending.