09/23/2008 11:00PM

Jones confirms retirement plans


Larry Jones plans to retire following the 2009 Breeders’ Cup after winding down his stable operation over the course of the next year, the trainer said on Wednesday.

Jones said that he made the decision because of the strains of running a racing operation of more than 100 horses. He also cited the public outcry that surrounded him after a filly he trained, Eight Belles, suffered fatal injuries following her second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby this year.

“We’re just kind of tired,” Jones said, in reference to himself and his wife and assistant trainer, Cindy. “There’s no break in this work. It’s seven days a week, sometimes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. After awhile, it’s just enough. I’ve had 10 days of vacation my entire life.”

Jones told his owners several weeks ago that he would continue to train their horses through 2009. Jones said that his stable had grown to 114 horses by the end of last month, and that some owners had already moved approximately 10 horses from his barn in the last week.

Two of Jones’s owners, Rick Porter and Brereton Jones (no relation to Larry), said on Tuesday that the trainer had notified them several weeks ago of his plans to retire. “If we have horses that are Breeders’ Cup-type horses, I will try to stick to my responsibility to the owners, if that’s what they want,” Larry Jones said on Wednesday.

Jones said that he plans to reduce the size of his stable to about 70 horses over the next several months. Currently based at Delaware Park, Jones plans to ship to Fair Grounds in New Orleans when that track begins its meet Nov. 14.

In addition to criticism over Eight Belles’s death, Jones has said that he has been the target of tampering at Delaware Park, citing an incident last year in which a horse in his care was found with a sponge in its nose and a recent positive for the prohibited raceday medication clenbuterol. Jones has said that he did not administer the drug to the horse.

With a smaller racing operation, Jones said, he will be better able to monitor his work staff and practice hands-on horsemanship.

“I’ve become more of a manager than a horse trainer,” he said. “I got into this because I love horses, love working with horses. And I have enough quality people working for me right now that we can manage 60 or 70 horses without me looking over everyone’s shoulder. It’s getting really hard to get employees you can trust.”

Jones said his decision to permanently retire next year may be premature.

“The desire isn’t there right now,” Jones said. “The fire is going out. It hasn’t completely gone out, it’s just dwindling down. Maybe I need something to get that spark back.”