By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport

SCENE & HEARD: Whenever owner/trainer Patty Leaney visits the winner’s circle at Hastings there always seems to be an extra little ripple of delight among her peers. The words “good for you, Patty” are whispered softly throughout the grounds.

It hasn’t been an easy ride for Leaney who fell in love with horses when she was a little girl growing up in Langley. This is one time the familiar yarn about being born into a family of horse people does not apply.

“On the contrary,” she says. “Neither my sister or two brothers had any interest in horses. But I had a taste of show riding when I was just eight years old and as I got older, I had to figure out a way to make some money in order to continue to be around horses. That’s how I wound up at Hastings.”

Patty was fortunate enough as a teenager to become an exercise rider for Hall of Fame trainer Frank Barroby, the man she still considers the best in the trade after working with him for almost 20 years.

She acquired her own trainers licence after a short stint as a jockey in the early 1990’s. “I wasn’t very successful riding but sure enjoyed it,” Patty says.

A back injury combined with suffering the effects of a concussion convinced Leaney to get into training full-time. She worked for owners Kay and Sue Ohashi in a warm and loving relationship. When Mr. Ohashi succumbed to cancer, Patty purchased from Mrs. Ohashi the two horses she owns today: Heartset and Southern Casanova.

Last Friday Patty made two trips to the winner’s circle, the first as trainer for Sue Ohashi’s Crackdown and the second as owner/trainer for Heartset. The ladies’ go-to jockey Skyler White Shield was aboard both winners.

Raising three daughters (Hayley, Jaymie & Kory) and making ends meet while in the racing business has been difficult for Leaney. “I’ll admit it hasn’t been easy,” she says. “But you won’t hear me complaining. I love what I do.”

Jaymie is the only one of the three daughters who has shown an interest in following in her mom’s footsteps. They work together out of Barn K, the same location where it all began for Patty some 30 years ago.