Kentucky Derby-Winning Trainer LeRoy Jolley Dies at 80 

LeRoy Jolly Won 1975 and 1980 Kentucky Derby

Trainer LeRoy Jolley had a Hall of Fame career, but on Monday the 80-year old passed away following his race against lung cancer. Jolley got his training license in 1958, and his legendary career included 991 wins with 1975 Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure and the fantastic filly Genuine Risk (1980) among his most notable victories. Genuine Risk became the second Derby winner and first filly to run in all three Triple Crown races. She finished 2nd in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

LeRoy Jolley leading Foolish Pleasure following his 1975 Kentucky Derby win

Jolly won the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Turf (Manila) and 1990 Juvenile Fillies (Meadow Star), and Meadow Star completed an undefeated juvenile season with seven wins.

“My father and my uncle were trainers, so I grew up around the racetrack,” Jolley told The Blood-Horse in 2015. “You think someday I’d love to have a horse good enough to run in this race or that race. And for me, Foolish Pleasure was the horse that won all of those races. He was an outstanding, great horse. He was a great competitor and no matter who you ran him with, he gave it his best and that’s all you can ask of a horse or anybody else.”

Jolly’s father Moody owned Ridan, who LeRoy trained and went on to become co-champion 2-year-old male in 1961. Ridan won the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

Recognized as a personable and professional trainer, Jolley won a total of 15 Grade 1 races and his horses earned more than $35 million in 6907 starts. The Hot Springs, AR native was a regular on the New York racing circuit and some of his additional major stakes wins included the Florida Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, Wood Memorial, Arlington Million, Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes.

Jolly trained three Eclipse champions:

  • Honest Pleasure (1975) 2-year-old champion male
  • What a Summer (1977) champion sprinter
  • Meadow Star (1990) 2-year-old filly

Three of his trainees also were inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame: Manila, Foolish Pleasure and Genuine Risk.

Jolley was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987.

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