Work in Sports
'Complete horrified shock'
Friends react to apparent suicide of trainer Gregson
Posted: Monday June 05, 2000 09:49 PM
SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Eddie Gregson, who saddled 1982 Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol, has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The body of Gregson, 61, was found by his wife Sunday night in his office, police Sgt. Mark Miller said Monday.
"There is no suspicion of foul play," Miller said.
Gregson, who lived in Pasadena, went to his office in the evening after saddling two horses earlier Sunday at Hollywood Park.
"When he didn't come home and didn't answer the phone, she went to check on him. He was found by her at 9:45 p.m.," Miller said.
Miller said police consider it a suicide. He said Mrs. Gregson told them her husband had been facing personal problems unrelated to his training.
"She knew he had been depressed and unhappy for some time," he said.
Gato Del Sol, a 21-1 long shot in the 1982 Kentucky Derby, provided Gregson with his biggest victory. He also trained Super Diamond, winner of the 1986 Hollywood Gold Cup, who retired in 1989 as the third richest California-bred thoroughbred.
News of Gregson's death stunned the Southern California racing community.
"Everybody at the track is in complete horrified shock," trainer Jenine Sahadi said Monday. "He was a father figure to a lot of people and that's why it's so unexpected. He was always laughing and loved to tell stories and loved to hear stories."
Sahadi said she joked with Gregson on Sunday after he saddled one of his horses. Crows, a 3-year-old, finished third, beaten by two heads in the fourth race. Street Cat, a 2-year-old filly racing for the first time, was seventh in the sixth race.
"I know you get depressed when you lose, but it's got to be something else," said Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, a longtime friend.
"He's a real good guy, an honest person and very intelligent," Frankel said. "He's a very good trainer. The horses came first with him."
Sahadi, who saddled her first Kentucky Derby starter last month, said Gregson had been particularly kind to her husband, trainer Ben Cecil.
"He did whatever he could to help him," she said.
"He tried with younger people to make them believe in racing. He wanted everybody to respect racing and respect the animals. He wasn't afraid to speak out about things that he thought were wrong," Sahadi said.
Gregson had 13 victories from 79 starts and earnings of $433,909 last year, with Controlled being his lone stakes winner in the Boo La Boo at Santa Anita.
Among Gregson's other major stakes wins were the 1995 Hollywood Turf Cup with Royal Chariot, the 1989 San Antonio Handicap with Super Diamond and the 1978 Santa Barbara Handicap with Kittyluck.
In recent years, Gregson had served as an officer of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and was the current president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers Association.
Born Aug. 7, 1938, Gregson grew up on his family's ranch and breeding farm in Ventura County. He graduated from Stanford University before taking out his trainer's license in 1969 with a string of horses from Noble Threewitt's stable. Gregson began his own stable in Southern California in 1974.
Gregson also dabbled in acting, working under contract to Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox. He appeared in the 1958 war film "The Naked and the Dead" with Cliff Robertson and Raymond Massey.
He is survived by his wife, Gail, and two children.