Hall of Fame horse trainer Gary Jones dies at 76

Horse Racing

ARCADIA, Calif. — Hall of Fame trainer Gary Jones, who oversaw Hall of Fame horse Best Pal and 1986 older horse of the year Turkoman, has died. He was 76.

Jones died Sunday at his home in Del Mar near San Diego following a lengthy illness, Santa Anita officials said Monday.

As the son of one of California’s all-time training greats, Jones was destined for a life at the racetrack. After an apprenticeship under his father, Farrell “Wild Horse” Jones, the younger Jones took over the family’s Jones Stable in 1974. He took it to new heights, producing 104 stakes winners over the next 22 years.

Jones had 1,465 victories from 7,900 starters and career purse earnings of $52,672,611, according to Equibase. He retired in 1996 and was elected to racing’s Hall of Fame in 2014.

Jones’ son Marty is a trainer in Southern California, and he took over his father’s stable when Gary retired.

He had a pair of seconds and two third-place finishes in the Breeders’ Cup. His only starter in a Triple Crown race was Fali Time, who finished fourth in the 1984 Kentucky Derby.

Jones won 15 training titles on the Southern California circuit, including four at Santa Anita, where he ranks sixth all time in victories with 576 and seventh in stakes victories with 72. He set a record with 47 wins at the Arcadia track in 1976, surpassing the old mark of 44 set by his father.

Jones won 17 stakes at Del Mar, including the inaugural Pacific Classic with Best Pal in 1991.

He operated a split stable between Santa Anita and Hollywood Park for several years and had a bushel basket full of speeding tickets to prove it.

“I’ve got to go see them myself,” he once said, when asked why he felt compelled to watch his horses train in Inglewood before racing to Arcadia in time to oversee the training of his horses there. “I’ve got good people, but I just can’t take somebody’s else’s word for it. I want to see them myself.”

Besides his son, Jones is survived by his wife, Joanie, and his other son, David.

Services were pending.

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