Larry Barrera Ends 11-Year Training Absence

(From track report)
Larry Barrera ended an 11-year hiatus as a trainer when he sent out Aaron and Marie Jones' 3-year-old filly Summerwood to a fifth-place finish in the first race at Hollywood Park Saturday.

Barrera, son of the late Hall of Fame trainer Laz Barrera, discussed his comeback Friday at Hollywood Park, where he is stabled with four of the Jones' horses.

"I've been back for about six months," said Barrera, 43. "I came back to the track with Arbiter, a horse that Gary Rocks and I bought and sold to Craig Lewis.

"I ran into the Joneses, and they asked if I would consider helping them," said Barrera, referring to the Oregon couple for whom his father once trained. "I was racing manager for them for a couple of months with (trainer Eduardo Inda). Eventually they asked if I would take a few horses for them. I said 'sure.' For them, it's a pleasure. They've given so much to the game."

In addition to Summerwood, Barrera picked up a trio of 3-year-olds: Timber Cruiser, Chumaree and the filly Balcovy.

Barrera began training as an 18-year-old in 1978 and continued until 1991, when he saddled Polvorita here for his father.

"When my father passed on in 1991, I took it hard," explained Barrera of his absence. "The game changed a lot, and my father was very upset over a positive (drug test for a horse) before he died. That got me very sour about the game. I left, went to school and got into other ventures."

Barrera enjoyed considerable success as a trainer. "I won my first race on Dec. 28, 1978, at Santa Anita with Rich Cream, who set a world record for seven furlongs (1:19 2/5) when he won the (1980) Triple Bend Handicap here," recalled Barrera. "I was the youngest trainer, 20, to send out a Kentucky Derby starter, Flying Nashua, in 1981. I won the (1980) Milady Handicap here with Image of Reality, who became a great broodmare for Juddmonte Farms and produced Toussaud.

"It feels great to be back," concluded Barrera. "The game has changed a little. But it's basically the same game my dad taught me. It gets into your blood. It's like learning to ride a bike."