Industry Profile: Racehorse Owner Jack Knowlton

From Fairy Tale to Triumph

In 1995 Jack and five pals of his formed Sackatoga Stable. The name was a play on words. A combination of letters from the crew’s hometown of Sackets Harbor along with Jack’s residency in Saratoga Springs creating an amusing name for the enterprise. They chose the staid checkered colors of maroon and gray that matched those of their high school for the stable’s jockey silks.

They liked the name so much that they named their first horse Sackets Six. Little did they know that eight years later lightning would strike them in the form of a three-year-old gelding with the name Funny Cide…

Industry Profile: Perry Ouzts, The 66-Year-Old Jockey Who Won’t Quit

Perry Outz John Engelhardt photo

John Engelhardt photo

Being a jockey is all Perry Ouzts has ever wanted to do. He wasn’t a thrill seeker or a daredevil as a kid. But he grew up in small-town Arkansas with a gaggle of cousins nearby. One of them, Earlie Fires, became a Hall of Fame jockey in 2001. Most of Earlie’s eight brothers also worked in the horse industry.

One day, fifth grade Perry Ouzts sat at his desk. He was the kid whose feet still couldn’t quite touch the floor. His assignment? Write about what you want to do when you grow up.

“Well, this is the first year when my cousin Earlie — when he started riding. This is 1965.” Perry says. “And I got to hear the stories about him and stuff, and I got to thinking, ‘Well, that would be a really cool job,’ because I liked horses already. I was small. And that’s what I wrote about: I wanted to be a jockey…

continue reading about Perry Ouzts

Industry Profile: Jockey Frankie Dettori and his Incredible Year

UK correspondent Edward Sadler has a sit-down interview with superstar jockey Frankie Dettori to look back on his incredible year in the saddle in 2019.

Trainer Bob Baffert’s Key to Success?

Bob Baffert is one of the world’s most successful and prominent horse trainers. The Hall of Fame trainer has coached five Kentucky Derby winners as well as two Triple Crown victors. At the world’s largest horse sale, which takes place every September in Lexington, Kentucky, Baffert told Business Insider […]

The Hall of Fame trainer has coached two Triple Crown winners, Justify and American Pharoah, as well as three other Kentucky Derby winners. Baffert trains horses for owners that include the Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai and the Magnier family of Coolmore farm in Ireland, one of the world’s premier thoroughbred breeding farms. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2009.

Throughout his 40-year thoroughbred training career, Baffert has trained horses that have earned more than $292 million in purse winnings, according to Equibase.

At the Keeneland September yearling sale in Lexington, Kentucky, where buyers from 26 countries dropped more than $360 million on 2,855 one-year-old horses, Baffert told Business Insider that he attributes some of his success to pure luck. But the rest of it comes down to the sheer time he puts into his work, he says.

More about Trainer Bob Baffert’s Key to Success:

The 5 Best Horse Jockeys of All Time

Horse racing is known as the sport of kings… A great jockey can make the difference between a champion and a mere contender. Let’s take a look at […]

# 2 PAT DAY

With 40,298 mounts over a career lasting from 1973-2005, Pat Day’s career total was 8,803 victories (a winning percentage of 21.30%). He saw nearly unparalleled success in the Breeders’ Cup and Triple Crown races.

In fact, at retirement, Day was the leading money-winner in Breeders’ Cup history with $23 million over 12 Breeders’ Cups. He won this race in 1984 on Wild Again, 1990 on Unbridled, 1998 on Awesome Again, and 1999 on Cat Thief. The legendary jockey was also successful at the Triple Crown, winning each race at least once:

Industry Profile: Morning Line Maker Jon White

ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2019)–An unmistakable treasure on the American Racing landscape, the indefatigable Jon White is back for his 11th year as Santa Anita’s highly respected Morning Line Maker as the track opened on Friday, Sept. 27.

A proud native of Spokane, WA, White’s affinity for horse racing traces back to trips with his late father to tracks such as Playfair in Spokane and Yakima Meadows, where his dad worked in their pari-mutuel departments.

Upon graduating from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane (“ESPN’s Neil Everett went there too”), White soon set about a career in racing that has seen him cast in a myriad of roles in a number of different states. (White is also quick to point out that he attended Eastern Washington University, where he noted, the LA Rams’ Cooper Kupp also attended, as did Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd).

Santa Anita San Gabriel

copyright Cheryl Ann Quigley

“I’ve been in racing 45 years now and I’ve been involved in many different aspects,” said White, who is also married to popular racing writer Tracy Gantz, whose stories appear in BloodHorse Magazine and The California Thoroughbred, which is published by the CTBA. “I started out in 1974 as a chart-caller and columnist with Daily Racing Form at Northwest tracks and I got promoted in 1981 to the position of reporter-columnist here at Santa Anita and all the other Southern California tracks.

“The racing during that period of time was incredible, as were the jockeys and trainers that I dealt with on a daily basis. In 1986, they assigned me to be the DRF chart-caller and I worked on this circuit in that positon until 1993.”

In addition to his print career at Daily Racing Form and as a free-lancer for several industry publications, White has also toiled as a racing steward in various locales–Yakima Meadows (1979), Les Bois Park in Boise, ID (1990s) and has been a licensed CHRB steward since 2010. His most recent CHRB assignment put him in the stewards’ stand at this year’s Los Alamitos Summer Thoroughbred Meet in July.

Following the 1993 Del Mar meeting, White hired on with the newly created HRTV, working as an on-air racing personality for some 20 years until taking his current position as Santa Anita’s Morning Line Maker.

With a soft spoken, low key demeanor that belies an intense passion for racing, White’s historical perspective and broad-based knowledge are legendary in racing circles.  Following is a question and answer session with White, who will also be making the official morning line for this year’s two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 1 & 2.

     Q                Who’s your all-time favorite horse?

     A                No question, it’s (Washington-bred) Turbulator.  He didn’t race as a 2-year-old because he became so ill that he very nearly died. He didn’t race as a 3-year-old because he severely injured a knee on a farm. His breeder, owner and trainer, Tom Crawford, then tried to trade the horse for two cows. But due to the injured knee, the swap didn’t take place. Turbulator finally did make it to the races as a 4-year-old in 1969.  He lost his first three starts, but then won seven straight in just nine weeks from six furlongs to two miles at Playfair. In 1970, Turbulator broke three track records, one of those also being a world record. In another of his 1970 victories, he carried 134 pounds. A huge fan favorite, there were Turbulator T-shirts, coffee mugs, campaign buttons and refrigerator magnets, all items I possess to this day, along with two of the shoes he wore when he broke the world record for 6 ½ furlongs.

     Q                Favorite all-time jockey?

     A                Laffit Pincay, Jr., although Bill Shoemaker, Gary Stevens, Eddie Delahoussaye and Joe Baze, Russell’s father, certainly all rank right up there. I’ve said many times that if I ever needed a horse to win a race or I would die, I would pick Laffit to ride the horse. On the last day I was ever at Longacres, in a prime example of Laffit’s sheer strength on horseback, he won the 1986 Longacres Mile by a neck on Skywalker.  I flew back to LA on the plane with Skywalker and his trainer, Michael Whittingham.  Skywalker would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic later that year with Pincay aboard.

     Q                Favorite all-time trainer?

     A                It’s a dead heat between Charlie Whittingham and Laz Barrera. I was very lucky to get to know them both quite well. They were incredible horsemen and wonderful people. I miss them a lot.

     Q                Favorite all-time race?

     A                It’s another dead heat, this time Secretariat’s spectacular 31-length Belmont Stakes victory to sweep the Triple Crown in 1973 and Zenyatta’s sensational win in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, which I saw in person…As I stood in the mass of humanity during Zenyatta’s furious late charge to become the first female Thoroughbred to ever win the Classic, I was so overcome with emotion that I had tears in my eyes.

     Q                You’ve had so many great moments in racing, I know Justify’s Kentucky Derby win last year ranks way up there?

     A                As we all know, Justify didn’t make it to the races until Feb. 18 here at Santa Anita. I managed to get a one hundred dollar future book wager on him at 100 to one to win the Kentucky Derby, so that was pretty incredible. But my biggest score was hitting a Pick Six at Santa Anita that paid $45,981.  It was on Dec. 28, 2003, and I did it on a $120 ticket.

     Q                If you retired tomorrow, what would you do for kicks?

     A                I honestly don’t know. My feeling is I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Industry Profile: QnA with Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith

After over 40 years in the saddle, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith remains at the top of his game. To date, the 54-year-old (as of today — happy birthday, Mike!) jockey has 26 Breeders’ Cup wins, the winner of two Eclipse Awards, and an Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award. Mike has won horse racing’s largest races including two Kentucky Derbies, two Preakness Stakes, and three Belmont Stakes and has piloted some of the best-known Thoroughbreds like Unbridled’s Song, Arrogate, Bodemeister, Zenyatta, Songbird, and 2018 Triple Crown winner, Justify…

4. Who is your favorite horse at the moment?
McKinzie (four-year-old colt, with seven wins out of 12 starts and $2,238,560 in earnings).

5. Which racetrack do you enjoy riding at the most?
In California: Santa Anita and Del Mar. In New York: Belmont and Saratoga. I love Lexington, Kentucky, and Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. All special for different reasons.

Industry Profile: Trainer Linda Rice

From The Blood-Horse Magazine:

Linda Rice was 17 years old, a time when the real world begins to come into view for most teenagers. She and her father, Clyde, had attended a Keeneland sale in Lexington, and were driving back to their farm in Pennsylvania when an accident ahead of them caused a….

She left Penn State after two years and took out her trainer’s license in 1987. Clyde understood and was so supportive he assigned her half a dozen horses or so at the outset. Now viewed as the leading female trainer in the United States, Rice was hardly an overnight success.

“It was very difficult getting started,” Rice said. “My father was my first client and then I grew from there. But it was many years of building the business. It’s taken many years and a lot of hard work.”

If she had an advantage in what continues to be an aspect of the industry populated largely by men, it was her upbringing.

“When you grow up around horses, you learn the behavior of horses, the psychology of the horse,” she said. “It allows you to be very advanced and have many years of experience by the time you start training them.”

Trainer Kevin Patterson is On Fire

Mountaineer racetrack

When Frank Passero, a brash Canadian laying siege to Gulfstream Park, saddled a record 14 straight winners in 1996, the odds of performing that feat stood roughly similar to your shot of getting hit by a meteor. In fact, a theoretical $2 parlay on those victories would have returned a staggering $7 million. Kevin Patterson’s Mountaineer streak stands six short of that, by comparison, and while letting a deuce ride on that cinchy octet would merely make your car payment for the month, those eight MOVED like meteors, most leading at all calls. This ostentatious parade of speed should come as no surprise to followers of the bonafide super-trainer.

“Kevin extracts speed,” said Patterson’s main client, Robert Cole, who as a skilled handicapper and longtime student of the game well comprehends the advantage of shaking loose in front, even tailoring his acquisitions to fit Patterson’s training style. ” I don’t claim closers,” stated the long-successful Cole, who once led the nation in wins and made his considerable fortune in the mortgage business.

With his own best successes, like …

To Churchill via Afghanistan, horse trainer Mark Simms followed his dream

For Simms, the path to the Winner’s Circle at Churchill Downs had gone through various states and countries, through countless predawn drives chasing a dream in his spare time and through, of all places, Afghanistan.

“I really do thank the Lord every morning,” Simms said. “I’m training racehorses. I’m living the dream.”

His alarm clock goes off at 3:30 a.m., with long days facing even longer odds in trying to break into a tough business.

Simms, who recently turned 30, went out on his own in 2017 as a trainer. That move was after a stint assisting Churchill-based trainer Dale Romans that began when Simms was enlisted in the U.S. Army.

He was a soldier, part of a military family, joining ROTC in high school in Virginia and the Army out of college, being stationed all over the place. But even then, it was always about horses. His grandfather, a horse trainer himself, would always tell a story of how Simms learned to walk in a horse barn. Simms grew up on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian Reservation in North Dakota, which had a racetrack, Chippewa Downs.

“As long as I can remember,” Simms said, “all I’ve really wanted to do was train racehorses. … They get in your blood, and it’s really hard to shake them.”

While stationed in Korea at one point, Simms would go to a racetrack on the weekends with a Korean soldier who could translate the program, and they’d figure out horses on which to bet…