McCarron returns to rough ride Ex-rider fills in as manager, and jockeys get in their kicks Laurel notebook

June 16, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

Gregg McCarron returned to the track yesterday for the first time since retiring as a jockey April 22 and didn't exactly receive a hero's welcome at Laurel Race Course.

He was teased about his weight (up a few pounds to 116), his suit and tie and nearly everything else.

McCarron didn't expect a garden party in his new role as interim manager of the jockey room, but he hoped the guys would cut him a little slack. He still is fighting withdrawal pains from an outstanding 24-year career in which he won 2,403 races and his mounts earned $27,273,949.

When asked about his first day back, McCarron said: "It stinks. It's really, really tough. I've had a false smile on all day." McCarron, 44, is filling in for retired jockey room manager Calvin Myers until track officials can find a replacement for Myers.

"If they get someone tomorrow [today], that's OK," McCarron said. "I hope it's no more than a week. It's a long day [8:30 a.m. to 5:30 or 6 p.m.], and I'm not really all that busy. I just have to make sure all the jockeys are here and they wear the right colors, break up any fights that start and sometimes go down to the weigh-in scale in the winner's circle.

"I miss the mornings at the track," McCarron said. "I love being on horses. But I didn't want to stay around the track and have people saying I was just hanging on. My business was slow, and the fields were small. People were looking for younger riders."

The man who once rode an 18-1 long shot named On The Sly to 5 1/4 -length victory in the $346,800 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park said he doesn't know how long it will take him to get over the end of his jockey career.

"I can't say," he said. "I was happy to get out with my health, and my parents were happy. They've always had some trepidation about my brother Chris [Hall of Fame rider] and I being jockeys."

Since his retirement, Gregg McCarron has been working at his 100-acre farm in Howard County.

"I've been mowing and painting while my wife is working in a greenhouse," he said. "It's not that much fun. Now I know how tough it was for her. Once she learns the greenhouse business, we might put one up here on our farm."

McCarron won the riding title at Laurel in 1979, won six races in one day at Delaware Park in 1974, and was presented with the Federico Tesio Achievement Award in 1988 for his contributions to thoroughbred racing in Maryland.

Klinger shaken up

Rider Omar Klinger was shaken up yesterday by his mount, Chaos Lady, who acted up at the starting gate before the fifth race.

The horse was scratched from the race, and Klinger was taken to the first-aid room at Laurel and later to Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital for X-rays. All tests were negative, and Klinger was released.

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