Jock Larry Reynolds mounting comeback at 53
Journeyman Larry Reynolds, a winner of nearly 3,400 career races who returned from a 10-year absence in mid-September, will continue his comeback tour Thursday at Laurel Park.
Reynolds, 53, is named to ride Champagne Please for trainer Anthony Farrior in the opener, a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs on the main track. Post time for the first of nine races is 12:25 p.m.
“He’s ridden a couple for me,” Farrior said. “He came down and worked her and he liked her. He’s an old veteran; he knows what to do.”
Champagne Please, by Maximus Mischief, is owned by Reynolds’ brother-in-law, Tim Freitag, and his sister, Denise. Bred in Kentucky and purchased for $60,000 as a 2-year-old in training at Fasig-Tipton’s post-Preakness (G1) sale in May at Timonium, she will be making her career debut.
“I worked her once. We went fairly easy from the gate,” Reynolds said. “First-timer, you never know how they’re going to handle everything, but she seems like she’s got ability. We’re hoping for a good trip and see what happens.”
It will be the first mount in Maryland for Reynolds since finishing fifth on Busy Listening for trainer Tim Grams Feb. 6, 2013. Six months later, the Williamsport, Md. native retired due to lingering pain in his hip, which he injured and ultimately had replaced following an on-track mishap in 2011.
“I had the spill and broke my hip bad. I came back and rode for a little bit, but there was too much pain, so I had to get it replaced,” Reynolds said. “I did come back and ride for maybe five or six months after the replacement and I think I rushed it. It was hurting too much.”
At the time of his retirement, Reynolds had won 3,368 races and more than $46 million in purse earnings. Though much of his career was spent at Charles Town in West Virginia, where he now lives, Reynolds enjoyed much success and rode some of his biggest winners in Maryland, where his time as an apprentice coincided with that of future Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux.
Five of Reynolds’ eight career graded-stakes wins came at Laurel – the 1998 Barbara Fritchie (G2) with J J’s Dream, 1996 Martha Washington (G3) with Silent Greeting, 1994 and 1996 Carousel (G3) with Miss Slewpy and 1995 Snow Goose Handicap (G3) with Smart ‘N Noble.
Reynolds owns three riding titles in Maryland. He led the fall standings at historic Pimlico Race Course in 1995 with 57 wins and was leading rider at Laurel’s 1993 summer and 1993-94 winter meets with 45 and 135 wins, respectively.
“I have a lot of good memories at Laurel. I rode a lot of good horses,” he said. “I rode for Graham Motion and Hammy Smith. Between Graham Motion and Ronnie Cartwright, they were my big outfit. I love Laurel.”
Reynolds hasn’t been a stranger during his time away from riding. His son, Austin, has ridden at Laurel this summer and fall and has two wins from 44 career mounts.
“When my son was riding I would go down and watch him ride and hang out in the jock’s room,” he said. “I’ve been back I want to say maybe 10 times since I quit riding. A couple times I would go down and watch my sister’s horses run.”
In fact, it was his sister and brother-in-law’s deeper investment in racing starting in 2022 that first sparked Reynolds’ interest in making a return.
“The past year, a friend here at Charles Town, we have a mechanic shop where we’ve been working for three years just messing around with cars, and everything was feeling good,” Reynolds said. “When my sister got horses I told her, ‘I’d love to come back and ride and win a couple races for you.’
“I kept saying that and then one day I went to the [jockeys’] room here at Charles Town for movies and I decided I’m going to ask the trainer that I rode for before, Tim Grams, if I could come out and get on some horses, see how my hip’s holding up and how I feel,” he added. “So I did, and I’ve been riding since.”
Reynolds has two wins, one second and two thirds from 22 mounts this year, returning to be third on Farrior-trained Ragtime Riches Sept. 16 at Charles Town – his first race in 10 years, one month and 13 days. His first win back came six days later when he piloted the Grams-trained Moonlit Shadow to an allowance triumph.
“I want to say it’s a comeback,” he said. “I’m not looking to go out and ride six or seven a day. I think I’m too old for that. If the opportunities are there and I get that many in that day or something, so be it. I am out every morning galloping horses at Charles Town. I’m kind of doing it as a comeback, full-time. We’ll see how it goes.”
Champagne Please is the 5-1 fourth choice on the morning line in a field of nine led by another first-timer, Independence Way, a Sycamore Hall Farm homebred daughter of Constitution trained by Brittany Russell that is the 2-1 program favorite.
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