03/27/2009 12:00AM

Troilo calling it a career as jockey


Bill Troilo's goals as a jockey included riding in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. He never achieved either, but those goals were secondary in the overall scheme of things.

"I found that with hard work and determination, I was able to carve out a good career," said Troilo.

On Thursday afternoon, closing day of the winter-spring meet at Turfway Park, Troilo will pull on the white jockey's pants for the last time. Troubled with a bum knee, Troilo, 48, is retiring after winning more than 2,500 races.

"My last knee surgery was three years ago," he said. "Since then, I've had 17 injections, the last one being [March 19], and it hasn't given me much relief at all. I'm looking at a possible knee replacement and wouldn't come back for at least six months. I don't know if I have the drive to go through all that's required to come back, so now's the time."

In his final years of riding, Troilo competed almost exclusively on the Kentucky circuit. In the 1990s, the Philadelphia native was a 10-time leading rider at River Downs in Cincinnati.

Troilo, whose wife, Mary, is the longtime simulcast director at Turfway, said he will look to remain in racing as an official.

"I'm going to stewards' school in November, and I'll try to work my way up," he said. Otherwise, he has held a realtor's license since 2003, "although that's kind of a tough business right now."

In a fitting bookend to his career, Troilo won the first graded stakes of his career in November at Churchill Downs when he dead-heated for win in the Grade 3 River City Handicap aboard Karelian, trained by Rusty Arnold. His first job on the racetrack was with Arnold in 1979, and he rode his first winner in 1982.

"People still ride me today that rode me as 10-pound bug, and that's something I'm very proud of," said Troilo. "I've been fortunate. The industry has been great to me. I can't imagine having done anything else. As with any athlete, I think the hardest part is going to be adjusting to not being an athlete. But it's been a great run."

Through Thursday, Troilo had 2,512 wins and mount earnings of nearly $27.5 million from 20,258 starters. Turfway will honor Troilo after he rides his final career mount Thursday.

Keeneland around the corner

With Turfway ending Thursday, the 15-day Keeneland spring meet begins the following afternoon - and fields already are taking shape for a couple of key races.

The most important race on opening weekend is the Grade 1, $400,000 Ashland Stakes on Saturday. Stardom Bound, the reigning divisional champion, heads a prospective field of at least seven 3-year-old fillies, with the other probables being Boleyn, Dream Empress, Hooh Why, Nan, Third Dawn, and What a Pear.

The meet highlight, the Blue Grass Stakes, comes up the following Saturday. At least eight 3-year-olds are under consideration for the $750,000 Blue Grass: Charitable Man, General Quarters, Giant Oak, Hold Me Back, Mafaaz, Patena, Take the Points, and Terrain.

The Keeneland meet runs through April 24, with April 12, Easter Sunday, joining Mondays and Tuesdays as dark days.

Barbaro statue on Churchill grounds

At Churchill Downs in Louisville, the Barbaro memorial sculpture was delivered last week, well in advance of its scheduled April 26 unveiling. With the iconic colt's owners and breeders, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, in attendance, the statue will be dedicated just outside the Kentucky Derby Museum. The opening of an exhibit, "Barbaro: The Heart of a Winner," will coincide with the dedication.

Churchill will host a breakfast preceding the ceremonies in the museum. More information is available at .

Perfect Drift settles in

Perfect Drift, the popular gelding who was third in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and earned more than $4.7 million in seven years of competition, has taken up residence in the stable behind the Derby Museum. For years, Phantom on Tour, sixth in the 1997 Derby, has lived behind the museum.

The museum will rotate the two horses, with Perfect Drift moving during the winter months to the Kansas City, Mo., farm of his breeder-owner, Dr. William Reed, while Phantom on Tour will live at Upson Downs Farm just outside of Louisville when Perfect Drift is on duty, so to speak.

"One of our most popular experiences for tourists is the chance to see a live racehorse," said Lynn Ashton, executive director for the museum.