Jimmy Toner: From the DMZ to the Diana

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Jimmy Toner might keep a low profile, but his horses are easy to spot, especially in the morning. Just look for those bright orange bandages. Long before trainers began equipping their exercise riders with distinctive vests for easy identification during morning training, Toner was wrapping his horses’ legs in those bandages, mirroring the orange “JJT” on his white saddle towels.

It might be the only way the self-effacing Toner brings attention to himself, though the talented fillies in his barn this summer may well put him in the Saratoga spotlight— and not for the first time.

A fixture on the backstretches of New York, Toner got started as a teenager in New Jersey, living on the backstretch during high school summer breaks in the 1950s. He didn’t come from a horse racing family, but he did have a cousin who worked at Garden State Park and Monmouth Park, and sometimes he’d bring young Jimmy along with him to work.

“He was a bartender,” said Toner, sitting in the office of his Belmont Park barn a few days before shipping to Saratoga. “So I got to meet a lot of trainers.”

Continue reading at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary

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