MJC celebrates Leatherbury's 80th birthday
|Leatherbury has been a staple in Maryland
for more than four decades
(Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)
The Maryland Jockey Club celebrated the birthday of
legendary trainer King Leatherbury, who turns 80 on Tuesday, with a
presentation in the winner's circle after the 3RD race on Saturday. All fans attending
Laurel Park Saturday received a complimentary button and free birthday cupcakes.
"It is a little embarrassing but I appreciate the tribute," Leatherbury
Leatherbury has 52 training titles at Laurel Park and
Pimlico Race Course on his resume, winning 24 of 28 meets at Laurel from 1981 to
1996 and winning or sharing 26 of 35 meets at Pimlico from 1974 to 1997. He had
four consecutive 300-win campaigns in the mid-1970s and was the nation's
leading conditioner in 1977 and 1978.
"I got started because my father had horses, a breeder and
owner and I just enjoyed betting on them, really, so I decided to get in the
game," added Leatherbury, who saddled his first winner in 1959 at Sunshine Park.
"I have never really considered this work. I enjoy it, which has probably made
Below on are some stats on the veteran horseman:
became the third trainer in history to win 6,000 races when
Cherokee Sunrise won at Timonium on August 23, 2003
Leatherbury was one of the "Big Four" of
Maryland racing in his heyday along with Buddy Delp, Dick Dutrow and John Tammaro
who dominated the mid-Atlantic circuits during the '70s
star runner Ben's Cat won five stakes races in 2012,
including his third consecutive Maryland Million Turf Sprint, which gave the
trainer his 10th Maryland Million score, one more than Dale Capuano for the top
spot among trainers
Catatonicwon the Grade 1 Hempstead at Belmont Park in 1987
Taking Risks had five stakes wins in 1994 -- the Grade 1 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park
and four black-types races in Maryland (William
Donald Schaefer, Grade 3 Baltimore Breeders' Cup, Jennings Handicap and Maryland
won graded races with Learned Jake, Ameri Valay,
Dynamic Trick and Ah Day
has saddled four Preakness starters -- Indigo Star
(5th, 1978), Thirty Eight Paces (4th, 1981), I Am the Game (4th, 1985) and
Malibu Moonshine (8th, 2005)
"I really enjoyed the days of the Big Four," Leatherbury reminisced. "It was fun
trying to compete with them and it made us all better trainers."
Though he currently ranks fourth on the all-time win list
with 6,373 career winners, Leatherbury is not a member of the Racing Hall of
"I think King was the easiest person to ride for,
especially of the big trainers. He was always so calm and collected -- never really
got over excited. I don't ever remember him in a bad mood, which is unusual
because I know he likes to gamble a bit," said Hall of Fame rider Chris McCarron,
who rode for Leatherbury in the mid-70s.
"I think the individuals involved
in placing the names on the Hall of Fame nomination ballot need to wake up and
examine his record. They don't even have to dig deep on how incredibly successful
this man has been."
The Maryland native is currently battling Mike Trombetta
and Juan Vazquez for second-place in the Laurel Park winter meet standings,
behind Hugh McMahon, with one week remaining in the stand.
Leatherbury indicated Ben's Cat will make his 2013 debut at
Pimlico on April 6 in the Mister Diz Stakes. The son of Parker's Storm Cat will
be looking for his fourth consecutive victory in the Mister Diz.
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