10/23/2009 12:00AM

Payoff long time coming for Gold


MIAMI - Trainer Stanley Gold made $75 a week as a hotwalker when he first came on the racetrack in 1971. Last Saturday, Gold earned $24,000 for the one minute and 46 seconds it took his charge Jackson Bend to complete a sweep of the 2009 Florida Stallion Stakes with a victory in Calder's

Gold's life has certainly come a long way since he left his position as a public auditor for the firm of Arthur Young and Co. and took a job walking hots for trainer Doug Small Sr. at Monmouth Park nearly 40 years ago.

"When I became a groom I got a raise to $110," Gold, 62, recalled earlier this week. "That was for rubbing three horses. I bounced around New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania for a while before I ended up first with Billy Croll and then his father, Jimmy. I was with Jimmy for three years. Mr. Prospector was the star of the barn and I got to rub Regal and Royal. We also had Royal and Regal, Restless Jet and Herecomesthebride, whose groom at the time was Ron Spatz."

Gold took out his assistant trainer's license when Croll sent him to Atlantic City in 1977. Gold went out on his own the following season, spending eight years training horses in Chicago before finally making his way down to Florida in the mid-1980s.

"I started running into people on the racetrack who were tan when I was freezing cold, and realized there was racing in Florida," Gold said with a chuckle.

Gold maintained a small stable and had modest success until 1990, when he began what would be a 16-year hiatus from training. He went back out on his own again in 2006, working primarily for Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farm, the owner and breeder of Jackson Bend.

Jackson Bend, a son of Hear No Evil, ran his record to 5-for-6 in the In Reality. His first stakes victory came in the the Frank Gomez at Calder in July, when he defeated D' Funnybone, who has since gone on to win the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 2 Futurity and is among the favorites for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Jackson Bend will not run in the Breeders' Cup, according to Gold.

Prior to Saturday, Gold's biggest claim to fame was training Jacks or Better stakes-winning homebreds Bayou's Lassie and Honey Honey Honey. Bayou's Lassie gave Gold his first and only graded stakes win when capturing the Grade 3 Frances Genter Stakes in December 2006. That capped a streak of six victories in eight starts over an eight-month span for Bayou's Lassie that also included wins in the Judy's Red Shoes and Calder Oaks.

As was the case with Bayou's Lassie, who typically registered victories having gone six to eight weeks between starts, Gold proved patience can be a virtue with his handling of Jackson Bend leading up to the In Reality. Jackson Bend followed up the victory over D' Funnybone in the Frank Gomez by capturing the opening two legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder. Gold then opted to train the colt into the 1 1/16-mile In Reality, bypassing a chance to give him a two-turn prep three weeks earlier in the Foolish Pleasure.

"I just didn't want to bring him back that close," explained Gold. "I've always believed you didn't need to run in one race to get a horse ready for another. That's what training is all about."

What Gold did do was give Jackson Bend a series of long gallops and just three workouts in the seven weeks between starts. The final two of those works came at a mile over the deep and tiring Calder racetrack, the last of which went in a sparkling 1:41.20 two weeks before the In Reality.

"The track is deep and it takes more out of them, so it helps them get ready quicker," Gold said.

That deep track may also have saved Jackson Bend from injury when he stumbled badly under Jeffrey Sanchez leaving the gate at the start of the In Reality. Jackson Bend picked himself back up from the unlucky beginning, quickly moved into contention, then after making the lead withstood challenges from both Bim Bam and Thank U Philippe before drawing away to his fifth straight and most impressive win.

"There was such an up and down of emotions during that race and it all happened so fast," Gold said. "At first, when he stumbled like that, I was concerned that something could have happened to the horse and he might be hurt. The deep racetrack probably saved us there. He actually had both knees and his nose on the ground and it was fortunate that Jeffrey was able to even stay aboard."

Gold said he was amazed but also concerned at how fast Jackson Bend recovered from the incident and got back into the race.

"Usually when a horse rushes up like that, the tank goes on empty at the end, and in the back of your mind you always expect something like that to take its toll," said Gold. "Bim Bam and Thank U Philippe are very good horses and had perfect trips. They both took runs at him, but somehow he always seems to get another gear at the end."

Down in the winner's circle immediately after the race, Gold humbly accepted all the accolades he received for expertly guiding Jackson Bend to his victory in the In Reality and sweep of the Stallion series, and handled the media as if he'd been through the process hundreds of times before. The one-time $75-a-week hotwalker had finally made it all the way to the top.