Gregory ready to return to training
September 08, 2014
« Return to News
Jeff Gregory is not ready to close the book on being a catch driver, but he is set to write a new chapter in his harness racing career. Or, maybe more exactly, rewrite a chapter.
Gregory, who has won nearly 6,700 races as a driver, plans to start training horses again. The New York native last trained regularly in the mid-1990s, prior to moving his base to New Jersey. He qualified his first horse, a 2-year-old female trotter named Miss Andover, last week at Harrah's Philadelphia. The filly is owned by Bill Weaver and was trained previously by Noel Daley.
"Noel was kind of looking to put her into a smaller stable, maybe where someone could pay attention to her every day and train her and drive her,” Gregory said. "She's maybe a little nervous filly and might do better with having one guy looking over her. So they brought her to me.
"It's nice to have a Hall of Famer (in owner Bill Weaver) give me the chance to get started again.”
Gregory, who turned 48 years old on Monday, Sept. 8, established his career high for driving wins in 2004, with 581. His career best for purses came in 2010, with $5.73 million. He is a three-time U.S. Trotting Association District 8 Driver of the Year and was the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Rising Star in 2002.
He was sidelined from September until late March because of a broken elbow, but has won 55 of 466 races this year and nearly $1 million in purses. He continues to be one of the top drivers on the New York Sires Stakes and Excelsior series circuits.
"The last couple winters have been a little slower for me catch driving, in part because I got hurt last year with my elbow,” Gregory said. "I'm getting to the point in my career where I'm leaning toward training some younger horses again, like I used to. I'm (48) and running up and down the road all the time, it's nice money, but there are a lot of young guys doing it too.
"I've got this one (filly) for Bill and I have two 2 year olds that are turned out that I'll be bringing back in around December. I've got two or three guys that want to buy yearlings, so I'm hoping to have half-a-dozen horses or so for the winter. We'll go from there. I'm not giving up driving, but I enjoy the horses and I like working with the young horses.”
Gregory has owned a handful of horses with Bill Richardson in recent years, with Linda Toscano handling the training. But Gregory often jogs and works with the horses in the morning.
"She's very excited about me doing this,” said Gregory, who won the 2011 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters with Toscano's Chapter Seven. "She's been helping me out. Whatever I need, I'm welcome to, to help get me started.”
Gregory, who followed his father, Gary, into harness racing and got his biggest win in 2005 with Jonas Czernyson-trained Jalopy in the Hambletonian Oaks, is going to be based at Showplace Farm in central New Jersey.
"I'm looking to start another chapter,” Gregory said. "I'm going to train these horses in the morning and try to stick to (driving at) Yonkers if I can. The New York Sire Stakes has been good to me. I'm hoping some of these horses of my own turn out where I can take them around and race them, hopefully reap the benefits of hard work over the winter.
"Hopefully, we'll catch a good lottery ticket at the sales. Maybe we'll get lucky. I feel I can do a good job with the horses.” (HRC)