Proud Spell

Proud Spell

Anne M. Eberhardt

Fair Grounds Hall of Fame Inducts Proud Spell

Louisiana trainers Larry Robideaux Jr. and Bret Calhoun also honored March 12.

Two locally based trainers and a locally trained filly, all of whom went on to national prominence, were inducted into the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame on the evening of March 12 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Brereton Jones' Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Proud Spell, who also captured the Alabama Stakes (gr. I), Delaware Oaks (gr. II), and Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), was inducted into the local hall along with retired conditioner Larry Robideaux Jr., and current New Orleans-based trainer W. Bret Calhoun. 

Robideaux, 80, born in Iowa, La., saddled his first horse at Fair Grounds in 1961 and retired in 2012. Calhoun, 49, born in Dallas, Texas, but now a Crescent City resident, is best known nationally for winning two Breeders' Cup races in 2010 with Chamberlain Bridge and Dubai Majesty.

"Proud Spell had such perseverance," trainer Larry Jones said in accepting on behalf of owner/breeder Brereton Jones. "She always gave her all. I've always said you can learn as much about what makes good character from a horse as you can from other people, and Proud Spell was the perfect example of that."

Robideaux, who saddled 1,963 career winners in his career, including a pair of Fair Grounds Oaks winnersBen Castleman's My Charmer in 1972 and John Bell's Honest and True in 1980. He thanked his wife Brenda for putting up with him for 54 years.

"Churchill Downs (Incorporated) is the fifth operator of Fair Grounds since I've been around," said Robideaux, "and when I came around trainers like O. D. Clelland, Hal Bishop, and Marion Van Berg were already here. I consider it a great honor to be joining guys like those in this Hall of Fame and I sincerely want to say 'thank you' to everyone responsible."

Calhoun, with two decades of his own young career behind him and 2,284 lifetime wins, said it was a great honor to become associated with so many great people already in the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame. Specifically, he thanked both of his parents for sticking by him during those first lean years before he started recording 200-plus wins a season.

"I still hear from my parents after every race to give me their opinion of how my horse performed," Calhoun said, "but I also get great help from everyone on my team, guys like 'Peaches' Geier and Tom Morgan. Without all of them, there would be no Calhoun Racing."

In addition, the Fair Grounds Press Box Hall of Fame inducted New Orleans natives Glenn Gremillion, who started with the Fair Grounds television department in 1972; A. J. Paretti, who began his Fair Grounds career as a chart caller in 1991 for Daily Racing Form; and track photographer Lou Hodges Jr., who joined his father in a professional capacity in 1976.