(from Santa Anita report)
Santa Anita-based horsemen had fond memories of the late former trainer J.E. “Cotton” Tinsley, who will be remembered during a gathering of his friends on Jan. 11 at Arcadia Golf Course at 5 p.m. Tinsley, 81, was found dead Jan. 4.
“I first came to Southern California in 1975 and he was one of the first trainers to put me on horses,” Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye recalled. “We were both Southern boys, so we hit it off right away. He was a great horseman and I was sad to read of his passing. He was quiet and kind and a great person and he’ll be missed.”
“Cotton was a true class act,” said Jon White, who makes Santa Anita’s morning line in addition to providing paddock commentary for the track's simulcast network.
“Cotton was with Fred Hooper for 26 years. When Ivan Parke retired as Hooper's trainer (in 1957), Cotton took over. In ’63, Cotton won the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) for Hooper with Crozier. With Braulio Baeza riding, Crozier won the Big ’Cap easily (by 5 1/2 lengths).
“In the early 1970s, Cotton didn’t want to travel so much. So John Russell became Hooper’s trainer, while Cotton worked his magic as a horseman at Hooper's farm in Florida. One of the yearlings Cotton broke for Hooper in Florida was Susan’s Girl, who won 24 stakes races, more than $1 million and three Eclipse Awards on her way to the Hall of Fame.
"In 1974, Gordon Potter trained a 2-year-old filly by the name of Hot n Nasty for Dan Lasater. At the time, Lasater was the leading owner in the country. Well, it was Cotton who broke Hot n Nasty as a yearling for Lasater at his farm in Florida. After Hot n Nasty won the Hollywood Lassie in 1974 to remain undefeated, she ran second to Ruffian in the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park. Ruffian won the Sorority by 2 1/4 lengths. That's the closest any filly ever finished to Ruffian.
“Cotton Tinsley certainly was respected and liked by trainers, jockeys, jockey agents and the press. Anyone fortunate enough to have known him certainly is going to miss him.”
Said veteran jockey agent Scott McClellan: “He was a great guy, real soft-spoken, but when he told you a horse could run, it could run. When he said you’d better ride this horse, you’d better ride it. He was a very good trainer and a super guy. I’m sorry he disappeared after he retired from training. Nobody really saw him much.”
“We were very good friends,” said former jockey Larry Gilligan. “We used to have parties and barbecued together in our younger days.”
“He was a sweet man,” said agent Richie Silverstein. “He and his wife, Pat, were great people to work for. They were low profile and stayed out of everybody’s way. They won an unbelievable amount of races considering the relatively low number of horses they had. They were professional; they never misled you. There was never any beating around the bush, and they did unbelievably well with what they had.”