Although it is a piece of furniture he could do without, the rocking chair now belongs to Laffit Pincay.
A few weeks after Bill Shoemaker's farewell Feb. 3, Fernando Toro was given the rocker, symbolic of being the oldest member of the local jockey colony.
But Toro, 49, announced his retirement Thursday afternoon, so the 43-year-old Pincay is the new dean of the group.
"Laffit's not too happy about it," Toro said, laughing.
A veteran of 34 years, the Chilean-born jockey will complete the Santa Anita meeting, which ends April 23, ride in his native land on April 28, then will have his final mount at Hollywood Park on a date to be determined. Most likely, it will be sometime in late May and definitely, it will be a turf race.
Best known for his expertise on the grass, Toro said he had been contemplating retirement for some time but, just recently, decided to end a career during which he has won 3,571 races and earned more than $56.4 million in purses. In this meeting at Santa Anita, he has eight victories in 103 mounts.
"I'm very grateful that I've had a great career," said the father of four and grandfather of two. "My family's very happy with my decision. They worried about me every day. This means I'll have more time to spend with my grandchildren and there's nothing wrong with that."
The top rider in Chile before he came to the United States in 1966, Toro will be honored with a day later this month at the Hipodromo in Santiago. He'll also have a mount in the prestigious Gran Premio.
"I'll spend two-three weeks there with my mother and my family," he said. "Mrs. (Marje) Everett invited me to ride one race at Hollywood Park, but when it will be is up in the air."
Toro said he and wife Lola plan to spend several months traveling, then he plans to get an assistant trainer's license and go to work for longtime friend Richard Mandella.
Santa Anita Notes
Matthew T. Parker, an 8-year-old gelding who ran second to Chief's Crown in the 1984 Norfolk Stakes, collapsed and died after running last in the first race Thursday. Dr. Ray Baran's preliminary report said the cause of death was a lung hemorrhage, but an autopsy is planned. Trained by Sandy Shulman, Matthew T. Parker had been beaten by a combined 89 lengths in his four starts before Thursday's.
Super Ready, a promising 4-year-old son of Super Moment, broke a sesamoid bone in a workout earlier this week, according to trainer Bill Spawr. In his last start, Super Ready had won the San Marino Handicap and was preparing for the San Juan Capistrano April 22. "It happened when he went back to change leads," said Spawr. "We're going to rest him and hope it heals. He'll be out a long time, maybe a year." . . . Charlie Whittingham turns 77 today.