Longtime California Trainer Ross Brinson Passes At 101

Longtime California Trainer Ross Brinson Passes At 101

     Longtime California trainer Ross Brinson, who created a quite a buzz in the Bay Area in 1983 with his gray colt Billy Ball, died Thursday morning at a home for the elderly in Lakewood, Calif.  Mr. Brinson was 101. 

     Born in Dardanelle, Arkansas, Brinson was raised in Arizona and rode Quarter Horses in match races as a youth.  His training career began in 1932 when he bought his first thoroughbred at the California State Fair and continued into the mid-1990s.

     Billy Ball, named in honor of fiery baseball manager Billy Martin, grabbed national attention after he won his first four races by a combined 22 lengths.  Owned by Lewis Figone and Richard Granzella, Billy Ball was featured in the April 25, 1983, edition of Sports Illustrated after capturing the Golden Bear Stakes and Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.  Billy Ball suffered his first defeat when he finished third in the California Derby, a loss that knocked him off the Kentucky Derby trail.

     Mr. Brinson’s other top horses were: Cover Up, who within a week’s span in 1947 won the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Sunset Handicap; Savaii, winner of 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.       

     Mr. Brinson is survived by sons Gary and Clay, three grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.  Gary Brinson is the starter at Hollywood Park and Del Mar.  Clay Brinson is a trainer based at Canterbury Downs.

     Services for Mr. Brinson are pending.