Joy takes pride in success at his adopted home

August 29, 2004|by LARRY YANOS

After making stops in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, thoroughbred horse trainer Kevin Joy has found a home in Charles Town.

Since arriving at Charles Town Races & Slots in December 2003, the 39-year-old New England native has been reaching the winner's circle with increased regularity and currently leads the trainers standings for the summer meet.

"I've been all over and I like it here. The people are nice and the purses are lucrative," Joy said. "You run a $10,000 claimer at Aqueduct and get $12,000. Here it's $27-28,000."

The successful conditioner spent most of his training career at the Suffolk Downs in Boston, but has also run horses in New York, Philadelphia Park and Penn National before deciding to settle in Charles Town. He has won 700 races.


"I had horses in New York in 2000 and won races at all three racetracks - Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga," Joy said. "Most recently, I had horses stabled at a training center in Mount Holly, N.J., but then I decided to give Penn National a try. I was there for about a month before moving to Charles Town."

Joy, who has 49 horses stabled at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval, lists Zavella Dandy and Southern Dinner as among his favorites.

"I claimed Zavella Dandy for $25,000 and I've won two allowance races in the last month," Joy said. "I claimed Southern Dinner for $3,500 and he's won four of five, the last two starter-allowance races."

Joy uses a variety of jockeys.

"I won four races the first two nights back (the racetrack was closed three weeks for renovations) and there were four different riders," Joy said.

The trainer appreciates the work done on the racetrack.

"They did a nice job with it. It will help the horses," Joy said.

Joy said he will race most of his horses at Charles Town for the rest of the 2004 season, but will ship occasionally to nearby racetracks.

"They have the best purses here in the country for these type horses," Joy said. "I'm very fortunate - great barn and the people have been very nice."

Best getting better

Charles Town Racing Secretary Jimmy Hammond has had no problem filling races and says the renovated racetrack will make the facility even more appealing.

"With our current purse structure, we are attracting owners and trainers from a wide area of the country," Hammond said. "Now, with the banked turns and the improved racing surface, we will be getting even more reponse."

Judging from the initial reaction, Hammond says the Charles Town-based owners and trainers are very pleased with the recent renovation work.

"I've heard many favorable comments since we re-opened on Wednesday evening," Hammond said. "The lighting, the banked turns, the improved racing surface were all needed. With the money spent by Penn National, this has to be the best year-around racing facility anywhere."

Pony Tails

· Gary Stevens, the Hall of Fame rider and co-star in last year's hit movie "Seabiscuit," will be coming back to California early next month afer spending the last five months riding for trainer Andre Fabre in France.

Stevens was to stay in France longer, but the 41-year-old rider said he missed the U.S. too much.

"I'm very homesick," Stevens told the Daily Racing Form. "I don't regret going to France at all. I rode for one of the best horsemen in the world."

Stevens will begin riding at Del Mar on Friday, according to his agent, Craig O'Bryan. He hopes to eventually pick up several mounts in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, racing's $14 million day on Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, Texas.

· Trainer Gary Danelson won the seventh race on Aug. 10 at Assiniboia Downs to record his 1,000th of his career. Travis Hightower rode Brass Ruhler to victory at the Winnipeg, Manitoba, racetrack.

Danelson began training thoroughbreds at Assiniboia Downs in 1959. Two seasons ago, he broke Assiniboia's all-time wins mark of 879 held by the late Don Gray.

· Thoroughbred horse racing fans can now apply for reserved seats for the 2005 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on the computer.

Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Ky., has introduced an online ticket site that allows customers to request reserved seats for the Derby and Kentucky Oaks by filling out an online application form at

All ticket applications must be received by Wednesday. Applications received after Wednesday will not be considered for reserved seats.

Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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