He's not Jolley sort, even with a superstar in tow

October 24, 1990|By Jack Mann | Jack Mann,Evening Sun Staff

ELMONT,N.Y. — ELMONT, N.Y. -- "You better leave," LeRoy Jolley Jr. told a reporter. "You're making him nervous."

LeRoy Jolley Sr. has never needed much stimulus to become uptight, but he has one. He is the trainer of Meadow Star, the 2-year-old filly who is the superstar of this Breeders' Cup if it has one.

Meadow Star is also a light in the tunnel for perhaps thousands of single-parent families and abused children in the New York area. Owner Carl Icahn, who runs TWA among other things, has decreed that all Meadow Star's winnings go to the Children's Rescue Fund he founded.

Considering the $542,830 she has accumulated in winning her first six races, Alysheba's record $6,679,242 may be only a Triple Crown or so away.

And Meadow Star will be nominated for the Triple Crown "if all goes well," Jolley Sr. said when her ideal workout had tranquilized him.

At 7:30 a.m. yesterday, Jolley had gone to the main track to see what effect the gentle rain had wrought. "I seldom work a horse in the mud if I don't have to," Jolley understated. He abhors mud.

Meadow Star has not raced on anything but fast tracks and Jolley was "not sure" if she'd ever gotten her feet wet. At 8:38 young LeRoy, who is 29 now, poked his booted toe into the track surface and vanned back to Barn 26 with his report.

At 8:55, with Jose Santos up, Meadow Star went out to work to her trainer's prescription: A minute (for five-eighths of a mile) and out six furlongs (in :13).

She worked that way for the Frizette on Oct. 6 and won by 14 lengths. But Jolley believes the Spinaway, at Saratoga, was her best so far. "She won by only two lengths," he said, "but those were good horses behind her."

Meadow Star could be "any price," as the smart guys say, on Saturday. She was 7-10 in the Spinaway, 1-5 in the Matron and 1-10 in the Frizette. Behind her in that one was Flawlessly, who had won the Gardenia spectacularly for Dick Dutrow.

In 1980 Jolley trained Genuine Risk, the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby in 65 years. That was "a different situation," he explained. One thing different was that owners Bert and Diana Firestone had to out-vote their trainer to send Genuine Risk to Louisville.

"Genuine Risk was more delicate," Jolley said. "She was unbeaten up to the Wood [the final Derby prep], but she got beat. She gave so much of herself that she needed time to recover.

"This filly is a little more durable. She recovers in less time."

And Meadow Star has the "mentality" and the "attitude" to be a champion, Jolley said. But he is not "comfortable" with all her attributes, he said in answer to a question.

"This is not a business in which you're supposed to be comfortable. They're bringing every good filly in North America to run against her. She may be as good as she seems, but you still have to get the job done. I worry about every race."

Jolley got the jobs done with Foolish Pleasure and Honest Pleasure, Derby winners; What A Summer, champion sprinter, Optimistic Gal, Manila.

He wasn't even "comfortable" with his grass champion, Manila, who won the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf in 1986. "He was the best horse I've had, so far," Jolley said.

He has had his slumps, too, one of them induced when owner Peter Brant, in characteristic petulance, picked up his marbles and went to D. Wayne Lukas, across the path from Jolley's Belmont barn.

"Things weren't as bad as they looked," Jolley said yesterday. "We still had 20 horses." Things were bad. Jolley was a humiliating 0-for-39 at Saratoga last year.

But Carl Icahn had arrived. Icahn, the lawyer-cantor's son, left medical school to become a financier. His entrance into racing in 1985, at 49, included the purchase of Miss Oceana for $3 million, then a record for a mare in foal.

Icahn's Foxfield breeding operation comprises 40 broodmares and shares in stallions Ogygian, Private Terms and Gulch, the '88 sprint champion. His "limited" racing string consists of 10 horses with Jolley. They include Really Quick, the stakes-winning second-stringer to Meadow Star, and an unraced filly named Arbitrage Honey who will be a good one, Jolley said, when she gets over her minor troubles.

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