McCarron in the gate as trainer

April 07, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Since he quit riding two years ago, Gregg McCarron has worked as a fund-raiser, a homebuilder and an occasional television horse-racing analyst.

Now, the 46-year-old former jockey, who rode in more than 20,000 races and won 2,403 of them, including the 1977 Jockey Club Gold Cup on long shot On The Sly, is about to embark on a career as a trainer.

McCarron will be the latest in a long string of horsemen, including Johnny Longden and Willie Shoemaker in California, Angel Cordero Jr. in New York and such locals as Vince Bracciale Jr., Luigi Gino and Benny Feliciano to make the transition from jockey to trainer.

"It's something I wanted to do as soon as I quit riding," McCarron said. "But I knew cultivating owners was a big part of the job and, if I wanted to get started on the right foot, I needed good people behind me."

McCarron began working in capacities outside of the horse business for owners Jim Ryan, former CEO of Ryland Homes, and builder Dick Jenkins. He has developed a rapport with both men and they are now sponsoring him in his training career.

Ryan and his son, Jim Jr., will be sending McCarron five horses within the next couple of weeks to train at Laurel Park. Jenkins already has shipped him his mare, Chocolate Deelites, which McCarron is working on his 98-acre farm near Mount Airy.

The first horses McCarron will receive from the Ryans will be several well-bred 2-year-olds who have been wintering in Aiken, S.C., with Maryland horsewoman Suzy Haslup. It's also possible that he'll get Sapor, a stakes-class Maryland-bred.

McCarron passed his trainer's test last week and just now is getting his stalls set up at Laurel. "I probably won't be running anything until June or July, if everything goes all right," he said. "In the meantime, I've been getting my equipment in order and praying that everything comes together."

McCarron's younger brother, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, is still going strong as a rider and currently ranks sixth in the national standings.

Gregg McCarron's 24-year-old son, Matthew, is one of the nation's leading steeplechase jockeys. He was tied for sixth nationally in the 1994 rankings. This weekend, he will ride Eskimo Cove for trainer Jonathan Sheppard in the $100,000 Atlanta Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase Races in Cummings, Ga.

NOTES: Laurel horsewoman Josephine Owens will replace the late Jack Mobberley as a director on the 12-person board of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. . . . Of the nearly 19,000 votes cast Tuesday in a special municipal election in Arlington Heights, Ill., a measure to permit full-scale casino gambling at Arlington International Racecourse passed by 38 votes. The measure now needs approval from the state legislature as well as the governor.

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