Ross Brinson, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup in 1947 with Cover Up and trained in California for more than 65 years, died in the early morning hours June 13 in Lakewood, Calif. He was 101.
His son, Gary Brinson, the head gate starter at Betfair Hollywood Park and Del Mar, said his father had been in declining health for about the past year and died at a convalescent hospital.
Gary's older brother, Clay, was a longtime Northern California trainer and is now based at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. Both brothers were jockeys for a couple of years after learning under their father, who trained in both the northern and southern halves of the state during his long career.
"Me and Clay, we learned about work ethic from my dad," Gary Brinson said. "We weren't even 10 and he had us out there mucking stalls every day at 5 o'clock in the morning. After awhile, we thought we ought to get some pay 'cause we were out there and we wanted to bet on a few horses. So we'd ask him, 'Hey dad, how's about some pay?' He'd tell us, 'Your beans are your pay'."
Born Sept. 27, 1911, in Arkansas, Ross Brinson retired from training in the mid-1990s, his son said.
Cover Up, a six-time stakes winner for owner Z.T. Addington, was the first California-bred to win the Hollywood Gold Cup. A week later, Cover Up won the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park as well.
"That was his favorite," Gary Brinson said of Cover Up. "He'd tell people (Cover Up) won the Gold Cup, set a track record, and five days later, he won the Sunset at a mile and five-eighths. He was very proud of that."
Besides Cover Up, Brinson was probably best known as the trainer of Billy Ball, a three-time stakes winner in Northern California who finished third in the 1983 California Derby (gr. II) at Golden Gate Fields. Billy Ball, owned by Lou Figone and Richard Granzella, won six of nine starts in 1983 before a leg injury ended his career.
Billy Martin, the manager of the Oakland Athletics from 1980-82, was a part owner in the gray colt and frequent drinking partner at the time with his father, Gary Brinson said.
Top stakes winners Brinson trained were Savali, who captured the 1962 Del Mar Oaks; Prince Don B., a multiple stakes winner who earned more than $400,000 in the mid-1980s; and the remarkably durable Six Fifteen, who started 140 times and earned more than $140,000. Others were Little Request, Mill Arellano, and Wheatfield.
Besides his sons, he is survived by three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His wife, Wanda, died in 1986. Services are pending, Gary Brinson said.