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Tell me about owners and trainers?

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  • Tell me about owners and trainers?

    Okay, so if I am an owner looking for a trainer (which I'm not yet, but possibly in the future), how do you find a reputable one? Is it basically word of mouth? And since I know hardly anyone, I'm not sure who's mouth to listen to?
    Also, how involved does a trainer usually let an owner be? Not training practices per se, but visitation, hanging out with said horse, watching everything, etc. If you only want your horse to run on synthetic, would a trainer respect that?
    And finally, how long would a trainer usually have a young horse before he/she had an idea whether it was worth training or not? Thanks for any insight you can give me, Diana
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.

  • #2
    I would just go to your local track and go from barn to barn meeting trainers, and see who you like best. We have owners come by all the time, they usually let us know, so we can make sure their horse is cleaned, or schedule their daily work so they can watch. Some owners do get involved, we have even had them hotwalking before. Of course as an owner you can decide where your horse runs, however this might not sit well with a trainer, especially if you choose Bob Baffert.

    I can take any amount of time to determine the horses suitability, mainly as they change as they grow.


    • #3
      You can start with stats on trainers... just remember, bigger barns that win dont always mean better...(the number of wins can be relavent to how many horses they run). Many smaller outfits do well, and the trainers have a more individualized training regime for their horses. Also, smaller stables will have time to be more involved with an owner.

      If you are interested in your prospective horse only running on a poly track, that is the first thing you should tell a prospective trainer... might as well get that out of the way first.

      If you are starting with a 2 yr old who has never been to the track, it usually takes about 90 days to get them fit for their first race, barring any lameness or mental issues...Hopefully you would find an honest trainer, that doesnt want to waste your money or their time if they really think the horse is a dud, or needs time to grow up some.


      • #4
        A good way to find a trainer is to pick a track you want to run at and look in the Daily Racing Form (DRF) at the trainer standings. Not to say standings are the best indicator of a good trainer, but it's a good starting place. You can call the racing secretary's office and request contact info. for anyone you want to talk to.

        Word of mouth is great, but not everyone wants the same thing. For example, I prefer a smaller barn with more individual attention. But, I have friends that love the bigger trainers. To each his own....

        How involved an owner can be totally depends on the trainer. That's why it pays to go talk to prospective trainers in person. I've had a trainer that would have me wrap legs pre-race and I've interviewed a trainer that would prefer owners not even come to the barn.

        When a trainer first watches a horse go s/he will be able to tell you if there is anything glaringly wrong with it. Beyond that, they need to work it in company to determine what caliber horse it is. But, they still can't tell you if it will be a winner. They should, however, be able to tell you where the horse will likely be competitive and if there is anything that would make success unlikely. Fast works on young horses do not always mean racing talent and vice versa. You should definitely plan on watching a young horse work yourself to see if what the trainer is telling you makes sense with what you see. Even though every trainer will tell you they don't want day money on a horse that has little talent, unless they have a waiting list, a slow horse beats an empty stall.

        Finding a good trainer is one of the hardest aspects of this game. Good luck.


        • #5
          Next to us, a small trainer (has 2 of his own, plus 2 with owners) has a set of owners on the horse they recently claimed. They are an older couple, and cute to watch. Every few days they drive back to the barn with a bag of carrots, give the horsey a pat on the nose and leave smiling. Horse is on his third win, and the owners are very pleased to mostly watch the horse run, no input as to his training. The trainer also gives this and all his horses very individualized attention, with his wife brushing them daily to a gleam and their kids visiting them.

          I'm a different owner, mostly since I'm both married to my trainer (grin) and I have my own horses at home. I will get down and dirty, mucking stalls and walking hots on my weekends and days off, and helping on race days the same. I have two in today, and will only be able to watch probably just one online due to appointments. It bites, but I will know who ate up, who bounced around the shedrow, who was good for the vets, who rolled after their bath, and a full report on the pre and post race, jockey comments, and how they cooled out, etc. For me, that's the level of involvement I enjoy. I try to draw the line at actually suggesting distances or conditioning, as hubby gets on the horses in the morning. As he knows how they are feeling mentally and physically, I'll admit he's in a position to know what to do with them better then I do. He has been doing this since 1976, but we do discuss things sometimes. Sometimes I catch something in a race he misses, or we'll review the tapes together.

          One thing you might want to do is start an equineline account (equineline.com, it's the JC's online records management tool). For $7, you can pull a trainer's full history and pretty much figure out how they are at the business on paper. You'll get the number of starts they have, the win, place, show percentages, their earnings, what type of races their horses ran in, distances, how many first time starters they had (which is what your horse would be, so might as well find someone experianced with that), and a breakdown by year. Hope that helps, or at least helps to get you thinking.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the great responses! I definitely don't mind (and would prefer to) get down and dirty and involved, without stepping over the line to make myself too annoying. My biggest concern is to keep my horse as safe as possible and enjoy the experience.

            Another question, I never understood how claiming a horse works as far as trainers... I'm guessing if you already have a trainer, the horse immediately goes to them? And if you don't it stays with the trainer it already had? Diana
            We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.


            • #7
              Originally posted by DLee View Post

              Another question, I never understood how claiming a horse works as far as trainers... I'm guessing if you already have a trainer, the horse immediately goes to them? And if you don't it stays with the trainer it already had? Diana
              Generally the trainer has to make the claim for you, or at least be listed on the claim, so you would already have the trainer lined up.


              • #8
                Originally posted by DLee View Post
                Thanks for the great responses! I definitely don't mind (and would prefer to) get down and dirty and involved, without stepping over the line to make myself too annoying. My biggest concern is to keep my horse as safe as possible and enjoy the experience.
                If you're willing to "grunt", might I suggest getting a hotwalker's or groom's license? I'm trying to think how you can wiggle into the enviroment if you don't know anyone at all though. Hmm. Maybe someone on the board here will be at a track near you and able to help? Or perhaps if you call the racing office, they might be kind enough to check the bulletin board for any posts of trainers looking for help, and that gets you on the backside, gets you use to the enviroment, and you start to make contacts and connections. You will be expected to have experiance handling thoroughbreds though. The track specific jargon and routines could be picked up along the way.

                Another question, I never understood how claiming a horse works as far as trainers... I'm guessing if you already have a trainer, the horse immediately goes to them? And if you don't it stays with the trainer it already had?
                As I'm not too clear on your question, I hope a general response of what claiming is will suffice. Claiming races put a price tag on all the horses in a race. For example, I have a horse in a $10,000 claimer today. Every other horse in there is in for the full $10,000 price tag. I have an older horse, and hubby wanted to take weight off him. So for the weight allowance (I'm guessing 2 or 3 lbs by the entries list) he put the horse in for a $9,000 tag instead of the $10,000, and put an apprentice rider (another couple of pounds off) on to make 111 lbs instead of the 116 - 122 he would have carried. The horse will run, and more then likely come home to our barn after the race as usual. However, should someone decide they want the horse, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements (too long to list everything) they can "drop" a claim for my horse in the box before the race. The box collects all the claims entered for a race, and there can be no claims to multiple claims on the same horse. At the end of the race, assuming my horse "started" (broke from the gate), and if there was a slip or more on the horse, the new owner will be the person who claimed him. You take your halter off, they put theirs on, and that's that. On occassion, they may ask a question or you might offer a tidbit of information (maybe the horse is alergic to alfafa or something, and you'd hate to have them find out the hard way for the sake of the horse). But really, it's quick, and can be very sad Some owners and trainers will chase back after a horse and claim them back again, even sometimes ping pong back and forth a few times. It's usually related to how attached a person is to the horse.


                • #9
                  ps - you should be able to pick up a copy of the rules of racing in a track's HBPA office. Studying up is always a good thing. Claiming is explained in detail. Up here, we can qualify for an initial claiming slip when you don't already have a horse running, otherwise you claim a horse on virtue of running another horse already during the meet.


                  • #10
                    As an aside - an interesting topical report (the link as found by equidaily.com) that was aired here in Chicago last week regarding a questionable trainer at Arlington Park:

                    Video - Fox News: Shot The Deputy (ridden to victory by Mark Guidry) Trained by Joey Camardo

                    Proof as to why you should always ensure the paperwork is updated and correct


                    • #11
                      Interesting story... wonder if she has checks to prove she bought the horse? And training bills? Seems like it would be easy enough to prove... also about the horse that "didnt" exist... also seems like that would be easy enough to find out about!


                      • #12
                        That guys deserves everything he gets and more. He was charging different owners a full day rate and the horse wasn't running so they went to see the horse and he wasn't there. He had been sent to a tiny farm in Wisconsin about 6 weeks prior. The horse was in horrible shape. One of the many complaints against him.


                        • #13
                          I bought a horse that didn't exist once. I sued the guy and won, so now I have an empty stall and an empty judgement. Apparently that was his M.O. and he had his bases covered. Everything he owned, right down to his underwear was in his wife's name.
                          To the OP, I wanted to address the poly track portion of your question. If you want your horse to run on poly I would think step 1 would be finding a trainer stabled at a poly track. Trainers with the big outfits can pick and chose the tracks that they want to run at based upon what suits each individual horse best, but the rest of us have to run where we stable at. Tracks provide stall space free of charge under the stipulation that you run your horses there. For most trainers it isn't worth fighting over so we stay home. Best of luck to you, I hope you end up with a great one.
                          McDowell Racing Stables

                          Home Away From Home


                          • #14
                            I guess it always pays to follow up and do your homework... We had a client who was paying full training fees on a horse for months in another state... when I went to find this horse for him, I found him starving and lame on the "trainers" farm...


                            • #15

                              you are perfectly situated in Lexington for Polytrack. When Keeneland is closed many local trainers will run at Turfway Park on the Polytrack.
                              If you have a turf horse, there are a few tracks with grass in the area that run while both KD and TP are closed.

                              Keeneland is the only track in the country, which still allows non-licensed visitors to the backside. Go watch the workouts in the mornings and you will see an abundance of trainers and how they handle their charges. It doesn't take long to get a "feel".

                              Also, don't overlook smaller outfits who can pay more attention to each individual horse.

                              Good luck and lots of win photos!
                              \"Horses lend us the wings we lack\"


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks you guys. I'm kind of thinking waaaay ahead I guess as we are expecting a baby in the spring that I was going to put in the sales (yeah right! I k now I will be too attached...) and now I'm thinking maybe WE should see what it can do... it could be fun! I will definitely be going to Keeneland in the mornings! Diana
                                We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.