William Webb Carroll Jr. is no stranger to horses, having grown up on a farm with broodmares and babies.
His father, the late William W. Carroll Sr., was the trainer of Thoroughbred racehorse Charlie Boy, who would win for Carroll about 58 times -- one of the highest totals in racing history.
Carroll Jr. grew up doing it all; he went to the races with his father, broke horses for him; he even drove the van.
When Carroll would take off in the van, it was left to his mother to tell the local high school principal where his wayward student was. The senior Carroll died unexpectedly in 1972, leaving his son "the whole world to make a living in," as Webb Jr. puts it.
He tried his hand at different enterprises, from farming to running his own trucking company to managing a farm in Calhoun County.
Failing to find contentment, Carroll Jr. established Webb Carroll Training Center in the early 1980s.
His returned to the horse business due in large measure to legendary trainer Odie Clellend.
Carroll began working at the 2,500 acre farm in St. Matthews belonging to L.B. Wannamaker Seed Company. The farm surrounded property owned by Clelland, a training facilty built by horseman Isaac Prickett in the 1950s. Prickett acquired the land, graded it and put down a clay base. Then he elevated, banked, sloped and ditched the track. After that, he added topsoil.
Clelland had purchased the property from Prickett's widow.
Carroll Jr., in addition to running a breeding farm, began breaking horses for Clelland while working at Wannamaker. He first leased the property from Clelland with an option to buy. He renovated the facility, advertised and worked to develop the facility.
When Clelland passed away in 1986, Carroll Jr. purchased his place, disbanded the breeding farm and went to work full-time breaking and training yearlings.
Although operating on a limited budget, he found money to advertise, building his business slowly by traveling to New England and other venues to search for prospective clients.
Carroll attended sales and races, but perhaps no one was more important to his success than late Maryland trainer Bernard P. "Bernie" Bond.
Bond, who was skilled in bringing along early-maturing 2-year-olds, found a kindred spirit in Carroll. Their joint efforts brought forth the likes of Gala Spinaway, a multiple stakes winner and Maryland-bred champion.
Through the years, the center has had an alumni association of horses that have reached fame and fortune, including the likes of Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner War Emblem and other winners like Oflee Wild, Tale of the Cat and Old Fashioned.
The Training Center is currently on 56 acres in St. Matthews. It features a 7/8-mile irrigated dirt track, a 3/4-mile turf gallop and a 1/2-mile wooded track.
The center also has a rehab and layup program that offers a swim facility, open-air barns, turnouts with grazing, an eight-horse equicizer and equine therapies.