Ex-Marylander Gillet has ride, will travel For him, 'chase racing is worth Calif. commute

April 13, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Every Friday afternoon, transplanted Marylander Joe Gillet hops on a plane in California and returns home to his roots -- steeplechase racing.

He works horses for Tom Voss on Saturday morning, competes on that week's card, and flies back to the West Coast on Sunday.

"I've already gotten 70,000 frequent-flier miles this spring," said Gillet, a former trainer who dispersed his stock in December to manage the family's auto-shredding business in Long Beach. "I'm a transcontinental amateur rider."

The coast-to-coast odyssey will continue this weekend, with Gillet in Baltimore County to ride Augustin Stable's Southwoods in today's My Lady's Manor at Monkton.

Gillet, 34, has been a fixture on the steeplechase circuit for 17 years, but never has won any of the three "Triple Crown" events -- My Lady's Manor, the Grand National and the Maryland Hunt Cup. He has finished second twice in each race.

So, he has prepped this year by galloping horses in the morning for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel at Hollywood Park and commuting to his home state for victories in lesser events aboard Southwoods and Welter Weight.

"We're looking to upset Saluter [the Manor favorite]," said Gillet. "Southwoods was the Virginia-bred horse of the year, the first time that's happened to a jumper, and I honestly think this horse can win."

Actually, Gillet was the beneficiary of the mount when Sanna Neilson, Southwoods' regular jockey, was injured two weeks ago.

Saluter, a two-time timber horse of the year, is trained and ridden by Jack Fisher, the Governor's Cup Series' leading trainer last year and runner-up nationally to Jonathan Sheppard.

Fisher is already off to a good start, with a victory on To Ridley in the $60,000 Camden Cup.

Meanwhile, Gillet, formerly associated with a mortgage brokering business in Baltimore, is leading an interesting new life that has included a little coyote hunting.

"I never saw a coyote," he said. "but it was still great to be out with a crazed group of fellow horsemen again."

My Lady's Manor

$15,000, 5 year olds and up, 3 miles over timber

Horse ... .. .... Rider .... .... Weight

Joe's O.K. .......Bosley .......... .165

Saluter ... ......Fisher ...... .....165

Belfast Valley ...C.J. Meister .. ...165

Southwoods .......Gillet ..... ..... 165

Paper Hat ........Morris ...... .....165

Proud Dawg ..... .W. Meister ..... ..165

Pub Date: 4/13/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.