03/13/2007 11:00PM

Farrell Jones, California trainer, dead at 84


Farrell Jones, considered one of the great trainers in Western racing, died on Monday night. He was 84.

Jones won 11 training titles at Del Mar, 8 at Santa Anita's main winter meeting, 5 at Hollywood Park, and 4 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting in a career that ended in 1974, when, at age 51, Jones had a heart attack. Despite having stopped training 33 years ago, Jones is still 13th on the all-time wins list at Santa Anita with 413 victories. He is one of only seven trainers to have won four races in a day at Santa Anita, a feat he accomplished on Jan. 5, 1962.

Jones was the first of three generations of Jones boys who trained in Southern California. His son Gary was a successful trainer before retiring, and his grandson Marty is fashioning a successful career, too.

Farrell Warren Jones, nicknamed "Wild Horse," was a native of Idaho who was respected for his horsemanship but was feared, even by those closest to him, for his gruff demeanor.

"He was a tough guy," Gary Jones said from his home in Del Mar, Calif., on Wednesday. "He was a great horse trainer. But he wasn't great with people."

Jones began his career in racing as a rider on the bush circuit of Idaho at age 9. He rode his first recognized winner at the old Tanforan racetrack in the San Francisco Bay Area, and during the late 1930's occasionally exercised Seabiscuit. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Jones trained Quarter Horses in California for nine years for Frank Vessels, the founder of Los Alamitos.

Jones switched to Thoroughbreds in 1955. In 20 years, he won 1,776 races. After his heart attack, his son Gary took over his stable. The elder Jones subsequently retired, and opened a training center and lay-up facility in Hemet, Calif. Some of the better-known horses who went through that facility included Alphabatim, Forest Camp, and Kostroma.

According to Gary Jones, Farrell will be buried in Malad City, Idaho, on Friday.

"He wanted to be buried next to his mom," Gary Jones said.

No services are planned in Southern California.

"He kept to himself. He was kind of a loner," Gary Jones said.