Industry Profile: Leading NY Apprentice Jockey Jamie Torres

Jockey Jaime Torres won 37 races on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) in 2023 to lead all apprentice riders, posting a record of 411-37-50-50 for purse earnings in excess of $2.6 million. Luis Rivera, Jr. won 27 races to finish second in the NYRA apprentice rider standings.

Torres, who was represented locally by Hall of Famer Angel Cordero, Jr., became a journeyman in October and is now based at Fair Grounds Race Course where Liz Morris has his book.

“New York is one of the toughest circuits in the country and there are a lot of experienced jockeys there. I learned so much from them and from Angel Cordero, who was my right hand and teaching me and leading me the whole meet. I feel very blessed to have had all those opportunities and I learned from it a lot. I would love to go back one day,” Torres said.

Torres, a 24-year-old native of Puerto Rico, was late in arriving to the sport but has proven to be a quick study after a visit to Hipodromo Camarero in December 2019.

“No one in my family is related to this sport. I remember one day I was at my mom’s home just changing the channels and I saw the races in Puerto Rico and I had never seen anything like that – only in the movies,” Torres said. “I went to the races the next day – that was December 15, 2019. I saw the races and fell in love with it. I decided then to ask for more information about how to get into it.”

Torres spent six months training as an exercise rider at the jockey school in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida and taking out his exercise rider license to work for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. at Palm Meadows Training Center.

Jockey Jamie Torres“I worked for Saffie Joseph for 10 months and he helped me with everything,” Torres said. “His team taught me how to exercise horses and when I told Saffie I was going to try and get my license, he gave me three horses to break from the gate and get that license. A lot of the horses I exercised for him were winning and doing really good. I really appreciate the opportunity that he gave me.”

Torres secured his first win on September 17, 2022 at Gulfstream Park, guiding Takestwotowiggle to a 13-1 gate-to-wire upset. He began riding at Aqueduct Racetrack in January where he won the bulk of his races on the NYRA circuit, scoring 24 times at the Big A topped by an allowance score in April with the Carlos Martin-trained Lady Milagro, who went on to win the Autumn Days here in November.

Torres, who captured six races at Belmont Park, won seven races at the Saratoga Race Course meet, including a pair of maiden special weights with MyRacehorse’s Seize the Grey for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and with Leslie’s Loot for trainer James Chapman, who co-owns the Fast Anna filly with Stuart Tsujimoto.

“I remember every moment and every win I had in New York, but the first win for D. Wayne Lukas with Seize the Grey was very special. The kind of trainer he is – he’s a legend,” Torres said. “I remember Angel Cordero told me to visit his barn just to introduce me and, for me, that was a moment I will never forget. I didn’t know I was going to ride for him and then one week I saw Seize the Grey was one of my commitments. I thought, ‘Wow. I can’t believe I’m going to ride for him.’

“And then I saw I was going to also ride for MyRacehose and that made me very happy,” continued Torres. “When I first started to know about this sport it was the same year they won the Kentucky Derby with Authentic. For it to end like that with a win, that was very special.”

Torres, who finished second in the Grade 2 Herb Moelis Saratoga Special with the Lukas-trained Market Street, said winning a race in Saratoga is an experience like no other.

“It was the best feeling. The fans give you a lot of support and they make you feel really good. When the kids ask you for a picture or to sign their book, that’s very special,” Torres said.

Torres rode in Kentucky after the Spa meet ended but he reunited with Leslie’s Loot at the Fair Grounds to notch his first career stakes win in the Letellier Memorial on December 23 as part of a lucrative day that also saw Torres win the Richard R. Scherer Memorial with the Michelle Lovell-trained Just Might.

“Wow, what a moment,” Torres recalled. “I remember saying to my father that I was just coming here to do what I love – with no pressure and following instructions. I gave it 100 percent and thank God it finished like that. I really thank James Chapman and Michelle Lovell for the opportunities.”

Torres said the relationships and learning experiences developed in New York have helped shape his career which is on an upward trajectory as he currently sits sixth in the Fair Grounds jockey standings with 14 wins.

“I feel very blessed for everything that is going on in my career. I never thought it was going to be that quick,” Torres said. “Joe Sharp and his owners have really helped me and supported me to achieve all my goals. Tom Morley and Ray Handal are here at Fair Grounds and I feel very blessed when I ride for them. They’re all very nice people and saw me growing up in this business.”

Torres, who said he hopes to return to Saratoga this summer, will look to add to his stakes totals on Saturday at Fair Grounds when he pilots the Lovell-conditioned Redifined in the Nelson J. Menard Memorial as he continues to chase his racing dreams.

“I want to win a meet somewhere and just keep learning and make the most of the opportunities people are giving me. I appreciate all of them. One day, I would like to become one of the best jockeys in the country,” Torres said.

source: NYRA.com

Industry Profile: Jockey Ray Sibille Enters LA Sports Hall of Fame

With the first of his 4,264 winners coming on June 29, 1969 at Evangeline Downs in his native Louisiana, the highlight of jockey Ray Sibille’s 35-year career came on Nov. 5, 1988, when he guided a 5-year-old gelding named Great Communicator to a gutty half length victory over a course softened by rain in the Grade I, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs. While that was undoubtedly the highlight of his career, Sibille experienced a once-in-a-lifetime thrill off the track when it was announced Wednesday that he would be inducted into the prestigious Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as part of its class of 2024 in June.

“You know, to these guys down here, going into the Louisiana Hall of Fame is better than the Saratoga Hall of Fame,” quipped Sibille, who rode full-time in Southern California from 1981 prior to shifting his tack to Northern California in 1992. “I stayed out of trouble, for the most part and now, looking back on my career, it’s a really good feeling knowing that you accomplished a lot and treated people right.

“When I first started out, every young jockey was under contract and you learned the fundamentals of horsemanship. A trainer named Buster Leger had my contract and boy, you had to work. No goin straight home after you galloped some horses. You had to groom ‘em, do the bandages, take care of their feet, do everything. And then, if we were running at night, you ponied horses to the gate.

Jockey Chris Emigh still hoping racing at Arlington can be savedI had an agent named Jimmy Daigrepont. We went to Chicago and right away at Arlington, I was third-leading rider and I thought, ‘Man, this is pretty good.’ We were together there about nine years and he did a great job. I was leading rider a few times at all three tracks, Arlington, Sportsman’s and at Hawthorne.”

In 1981, Sibille followed his lifetime friend, Eddie Delahoussaye, to Southern California in the fall of 1981 with legendary trainer “King” Richard Hazelton.

“Eddie and me were together from the time I was 14. He started riding full time out there in 1978 and I came out with Richard just to ride the Orange County Fair Meet at Los Alamitos,” Sibille recalled. “Well, Richard went back home at the end of the meet and I stayed.”

Indeed he did, becoming a fixture in a Santa Anita/Hollywood Park and Del Mar Jockeys’ Room that at the time, included the likes of Bill Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Eddie Delahoussaye, Chris McCarron, Sandy Hawley, Fernando Toro, Patrick Valenzuela and others.

Regarding his biggest moment on the track, Great Communicator’s win in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Turf, run at a mile and one half over a grass course listed as “good,” Sibille fondly recalls the entire day, including a college football result.

“I didn’t really realize the magnitude of that race until I got the (Breeders’ Cup) ring, that’s when it really sunk in,” said Sibille, who currently works as an association clocker at Evangeline Downs, which is 12 miles from his place of birth and current home in Sunset, LA. “The other thing about that day is, I was in the jocks’ room all day and I was watching LSU and Alabama.

“I went out and rode the race (which went off at 5 p.m. ET) and did all the interviews after the race, with about 20 reporters. Then I got back in jocks’ room just in time to see LSU kick the game-winning field goal. We hadn’t beat Alabama in about 20 years, so that was the icing on the cake.

“And then the most amazing thing about that day was when I walked out of the interview room right behind the paddock at Churchill Downs. When I walked out into the paddock, I said ‘It’s dark!’ And they still had five minutes to the Classic with Alysheba. ‘How they gonna run this race, it’s dark?’ Well, they did, and Alysheba won it.”

Trained by fellow Cajun Thad Ackel, Great Communicator was a Kentucky-bred by Key to the Kingdom. With Sibille up, he had a sensational year throughout 1988, winning not only the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but prior to that the San Luis Obisbo, San Marcos and San Juan Capistrano Handicaps at Santa Anita and the Hollywood Turf Cup across town at Hollywood Park.

So, what in Ray Sibille’s opinion does a jockey need, besides good horses, to have a long, successful career?

“Well, back when we first started, we raced six days a week and took Sundays off,” he said. “So, we’d stay out all night on Saturday and sleep all day Sunday. But I’ll say this, the last 15 years I rode, I worked out a lot and I took care of myself really good…Didn’t drink near as much. And I guess that’s what kept me around for so long…I got a whole lot smarter and if you’re going to have a long career, you gotta make those adjustments.”

A winner of the 2005 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Ray Sibille, who was born Sept. 13, 1952, will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in late June along with several other Louisiana legends including Drew Brees, who quarterbacked the New Orleans Saints to victory in the 2010 Super Bowl.

–Mike Willman, source: SantaAnita.com

New Career in Horse Racing for Trainer Nick Zito

Horse racing is all Nick Zito knows.

“Racing is different,” Zito said. “This game will humble kings.”

The hall-of-fame trainer started in the sport, as he jokes, when he still had black hair. Decades later, Zito has amassed 18 grade one stakes wins, including all three Triple Crown races.

“I’m very grateful to racing,” he said. “I’m very grateful to NYRA. I’m very grateful to all the racetracks around America.”

But after a legendary career as a trainer, Zito is ready for a change. With a new Saratoga racing season underway, he is moving over into… more on the new career for Nick Zito

 

Industry Profile: Jockey Corey Nakatani Enters the Hall

It has been a long time in coming. After several years of falling short in the voting, Corey Nakatani finally got the call this year that he’s been voted into the racing’s Hall of Fame. The induction ceremonies are Friday at Saratoga Springs.

“I just think it’s amazing,” Nakatani says. “Where I started, the guys I learned to ride from, the guys I was competing against. As you know they’re all Hall of Famers. To do as well as I did, obviously you have to put in the three ‘D’s’; determination, desire and don’t take no for an answer.”

Nakatani was one of 10 children in his family growing up in Southern California. His father, Roy, was born during World War II in a Japanese internment camp at Santa Anita. Corey was a champion high school wrestler and, in a strange way, that led him to racing.

Saratoga_NatMuseumofRacing and HallofFame

copyright AGameofSkill.com

“When I was 15-years-old I broke my nose in a wrestling tournament and went to the hospital at Arcadia Methodist (across from Santa Anita racetrack),” Nakatani says. “After they fixed my nose, my dad went to Santa Anita and bet on the horses.”

While dad was playing the ponies, Nakatani wandered out on the track apron and started asking questions.

“I was like, ‘Do those guys make any money?’ and, (trainer) Jack Van Berg was standing nearby,” Nakatani says. “He said, ‘That guy right there is Bill Shoemaker and he’s standing with Charlie Whittingham. They both make about a million dollars a year.’ So that summer I went to the World Jockey Association and learned about horses. Then at the end of the summer I went to work at Tony Matos’ farm, a Thoroughbred breeding farm where they broke babies and stuff.”

Early History

Nakatani worked at the farm for about three months and then went to work at Galway Downs in Temecula for Bob and Cecil Hundley.

This may be a good time to note that Nakatani had never ridden a horse in his life. He was a quick learner and by 1988 he was picking up mounts. One of the first races he ever rode was at Del Mar. He went to Tijuana and rode his first winner that year and by the spring of 1989 Nakatani was riding at Santa Anita.

30-years later, Nakatani had won 3,909 races, 341 graded stakes, 120 Grade I’s and over $234 million in purse money, 12th best among riders at the time of his retirement. He notched 10 Breeders’ Cup wins and his most memorable was, of course, his first.

“I was on Itsallgreektome in New York,” Nakatani recalls. “I got beat by Lester Piggott. When I first started riding Laffitt Pincay was my idol. He, at the time, had the most Breeders’ Cup wins. That was my focus, winning stakes races and getting the young 2-year-olds to get better.”

Nakatani says he attributes his success to staying healthy and hard work.

“Working hard, getting on a lot of horses and helping the trainers put them in the right races,” Nakatani says. “It was an amazing ride, seems like it was just yesterday I was winning all of the major stakes races in California.”

Nakatani won three riding titles at Del Mar in 1994, 1998 and 2004. He ranks sixth all-time in wins at Del Mar with 705 and second in stakes victories with 108. He gives a lot of credit to his agents – Matos, Bob Meldahl and Nick Casado.

As for the best horse he ever rode…Lava Man is the first one he mentions.

“I used to ride a lot of nice horses,” Nakatani noted. “A lot of the time you’re riding against Hall of Famers so you don’t always get the best of the horses you want to ride. I was very fortunate and lucky to win a lot of races I shouldn’t have won.”

Nakatani’s racing career came to an abrupt end at Del Mar in 2018 when he was unseated during a race and suffered a broken neck. He announced his retirement in 2019.

“I had a lot of help along the way,” Nakatani says. “One trainer that comes to mind is Jenine Sahadi; people like that who had a lot of faith in me.”

Source: DMTC.com

Ron Turcotte Looks Back at Secretariat, 50 years later

by Beth Harris for the Associated Press

From the tiny village of Drummond, New Brunswick, jockey Ron Turcotte rose to the top of horse racing, riding Secretariat to a sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1973. Their triumphs ended a 25-year Triple Crown drought. Now 81, Turcotte is the last surviving member of Secretariat’s team as he marks the 50th anniversary of their feat with the Belmont Stakes.

Here are some stories from his life and career, based on a recent interview with The Associated Press:

FROM LUMBERJACK TO JOCKEY

Turcotte is one of 12 children, including five brothers who also became jockeys. He grew up speaking French in Drummond, outside Grand Falls.

He left school at age 14 to work with his father as a lumberjack. He was slight in stature like his dad, who had him work with the draft horses that hauled the logs instead of doing the more dangerous work in the forest.

At 18, Turcotte and a friend headed to Toronto with $50 each in their pockets. He was going to join the roofing trade like his brother, but local carpenters were on strike, so they sought any work they could find.

The friends discovered a restaurant that fed them in exchange for washing dishes. To pay for a room, they picked nightcrawlers until the wee hours.

“We got tired and discouraged,” Turcotte recalled.

On the first Saturday in May 1960, the friends emerged from their attic quarters and found a crowd around the television watching the Kentucky Derby. They were cheering on Victoria Park, which finished third as the first Canadian horse to place in a Triple Crown race.

Turcotte asked a man what the Derby was. “The biggest horse race there is in North America,” he replied.

The man asked if Turcotte had found work yet. Told no, he suggested Turcotte try the local racetrack, Woodbine. The teenager made his way there, but got turned away by a guard for not having an entry pass.

Turcotte was told to try the newer Woodbine track located on the outskirts of Toronto. He hitchhiked there the next day. A trainer driving by picked him up and they were waved through the gate by the guard.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Turcotte made an important connection in 1960 when he met E.P. Taylor, a prominent owner, breeder and businessman regarded as a major force in the development of Canadian racing. He went to Taylor’s farm to learn about thoroughbreds.

The Great Secretariat

The Great Secretariat. Photo by Rich Nilsen

“He handed me the shank and said, ‘Keep turning left,’” Turcotte said of cooling out horses after workouts. “I kept turning left for about 30 minutes.”

What Taylor had yet to discover was that Turcotte had spent five years cutting lumber and driving a team of draft horses. He also knew how to shoe horses.

“I had never sat in a saddle before,” Turcotte said.

To earn a living in the bitter Canadian winters, Turcotte galloped horses on the farm to keep them fit.

By 1962, Turcotte had won his first race. He was off and riding on his way to 3,032 career victories.

CREATING FAMILY

Turcotte married his childhood sweetheart, Gaetane, in 1964. The couple has four daughters: Tina, Anne, Lynn and Tammy. After his career ended prematurely, he returned to his hometown to live on his farm, where each of his daughters had their own horse.

BEFORE SECRETARIAT

In 1971, Turcotte took note of a colt named Riva Ridge. The horse was bumped in his first start and finished well back. He won his next two races before losing again.

Turcotte stopped by trainer Lucien Laurin’s barn and told him, “You have the best 2-year-old in North America.”

Laurin changed jockeys and hired Turcotte for Riva Ridge’s next start. They won despite the colt bolting to the outside after leaving the starting gate.

Turcotte realized the colt was afraid of close quarters after what happened in his first race. He asked Laurin to give him a month with Riva Ridge away from racing, believing he could help the colt overcome his fear.

“He didn’t want to give me 30 days but I insisted,” Turcotte said. “I needed to re-school him.”

Turcotte’s instincts proved correct. Riva Ridge won four straight stakes races in the fall of 1971 and earned honors as that year’s 2-year-old champion. They teamed to win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes the following year.

MEETING THE QUEEN

Turcotte met Queen Elizabeth II in 1970 after riding Fanfreluche to victory in the Manitoba Derby during the province’s 100th birthday. She presented him with the winner’s plate.

The mare was sired by Northern Dancer, the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby in 1964 who went on to become one of the sport’s greatest sires.

“She was a Northern Dancer fan,” Turcotte said of the horse-loving queen, “so she had a lot of questions about Northern Dancer.”

Five years earlier, he had met the Queen Mother.

“My dad and mother were both very impressed,” he said.

MEETING SECRETARIAT

Turcotte stopped by the Laurin’s barn one day to visit Riva Ridge.

Two stalls down, a chestnut colt stuck his head out. “Who’s that pretty boy you have here?” Turcotte asked.

Laurin replied, “He’s too good-looking to be a racehorse.”

Still, the trainer told Turcotte to get on Secretariat and give his opinion.

“It was love at first sight and first ride,” Turcotte said. “He was so nice. He was like an older horse, he was quiet, very intelligent.”

Turcotte was soon getting on Secretariat regularly, teaching him to work in the mornings, increase his speed and learn how to break from the starting gate. The jockey was soon calling his new friend “Big Red,” a nickname that has stuck to this day.

“You’d teach him something one day and he’d come back the next day and he’d do it,” Turcotte said. “Not all horses are that intelligent.”

A MAN AND HIS HORSE

Despite a singular focus on the racetrack, Turcotte described Secretariat as a “very kind and loving horse.”

Still, the colt sometimes had a mind of his own.

One morning, Secretariat suddenly reared up and tossed Turcotte over his head. The jockey landed on his feet, unhurt.

“He looked at me like, ‘What are you doing there?’” Turcotte said. “I walked up to him, grabbed the reins and hopped on him again.”

The jockey would visit Secretariat and also greet other horses in the barn.

“He was a little jealous,” Turcotte said. “If I talked to another horse in the next stall, he’d reach over and grab my jacket and pull me back to him.”

A special bond existed between man and horse.

“One time he pinched me a little and I said, ‘Ouch, you hurt me.’ He put his head down like he was so sad,” Turcotte said. “I said to him, ‘It’s OK, you didn’t hurt me.’ His head popped up and his ears were pricked. He was a ham.”

TAKING A FAMOUS PEEK

After winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Secretariat put away the field early in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, using his long, loping strides to widen the gap to 20 lengths.

At that point, the race was against the clock.

With 70 yards remaining in the 1 1/2-mile race, Turcotte looked to his left at the infield teletimer.

“I knew he was setting records all the way down the lane,” he said. “When you’re alone like that, I could hear the announcer very well.”

Secretariat won by an astonishing 31 lengths and his final time of 2:24 remains a record 50 years later.

A CAREER CUT SHORT

Turcotte’s riding career was cut short on July 13, 1978. He fell from his horse, Flag of Leyte Gulf, in his last race of the day at Belmont Park, the site of his Triple Crown triumph. A horse drifted toward the outside, crowding another. Sensing the danger, Turcotte stood in the saddle and yelled to the riders inside of him. His horse clipped heels and stumbled badly, tossing Turcotte over its head.

Rich Nilsen and Ron Turcotte

Rich Nilsen meeting the great Ron Turcotte at a Saratoga conference

He wasn’t trampled by any horses, but knew he had broken his neck when he couldn’t feel his legs. Later that year, Turcotte sued several parties but the suit was dismissed in 1986 by New York’s highest court, which cited the inherent risks taken by jockeys.

Turcotte spent many years making appearances at racetracks to raise money and awareness on behalf of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which provides help to his fellow injured riders.

In 2015, he broke both legs when the van he was driving flipped after hitting a snowbank in New Brunswick. He requested one blue cast and one white cast, the same colors as Secretariat’s silks. Turcotte and Secretariat are immortalized with a bronze statue in his hometown.

LONE SURVIVOR

Now 81, Turcotte is the last surviving member of Secretariat’s team. The irony isn’t lost on him.

“I thought I’d be the first one to go,” he said, having been a paraplegic since his accident.

Owner Penny Chenery died in 2017 at age 95. Laurin died in 2000.

“He always told me, ’Use your better judgement,’” Turcotte said. “He relied on me for a lot of things. He didn’t always listen.”

Groom Eddie Sweat died in 1998 and exercise rider Charlie Davis followed in 2018.

“Charlie and Eddie were very good horsemen,” he said. “Sweat was beautiful with horses.”

Secretariat died in 1989. He was euthanized after developing laminitis, a painful and debilitating hoof disease.

“When it came to running, he could fly,” Turcotte said. “He was everything. Those memories never leave you.”

___

AP sports:  https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

What Was Life Back in the 70s and 80s for New York Horseplayers?

“Few newcomers to the sport could believe what we dinosaurs actually had to go through just to get a bet in and then try to find the results.  Although it was a very comfortable time in racing with many excellent horses, there were certainly a few bumps in the road if you wanted to gamble. Here’s but a glimpse into the past and what a dedicated New York horseplayer had to endure, as well as the “perks” he received in the 1970s and 80s.

In the area surrounding Ozone Park, the locals would be bustling around on race day anticipating the gates opening at Aqueduct. Some were waiting to get in and others hawking newspapers, racing forms, or selection sheets.  Peter Monaco tells what life was like back in the 70s and 80s for NY horseplayers

Industry Profile: QnA with Jockey Antonio Gallardo

Jim Gazzale of Past The Wire TV interviewed Tampa jockey Antonio Gallardo, who has dominated the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack over the past several years.  Gallardo discusses his recent winning mount in the Florida Oaks and his life as a rider.

Gallardo answers questions such as how long does it take for a jockey to learn the tendencies of a racehorse and how to bring out the best in the horse.

Dr. Z Passes at Age 80. The Obit for William Thomas Ziemba

William Thomas Ziemba was born in a small town in Western Massachusetts and became a world-renowned scholar of quantitative finance, risk control and management science. He died at home in Vancouver. He is survived by his wife, Sandra Schwartz and daughter, Rachel Ziemba…

Known as “Dr. Z,” Bill developed scenarios, models and studied anomalies across any market he could think of – from Jai alai, sports betting, currencies, equities, and horse racing, seeing all as forms of investment where decisions could be studied, optimised and bets appropriately scaled.

Bill’s love of horse racing was sparked at an early age at Saratoga racetrack. His books on racetrack betting were inspiring to many, and he even designed calculators that would help any bettor use his system. More recently, he achieved his dreams of owning race horses and spent more time in Saratoga, NY and in Lexington, Kentucky, the home of some of his favorite horse farms.

More on the life of Horse Racing’s Dr. Z.

Industry Profile: Brookdale Farm’s Fred Seitz

One way or another, it has been quite a journey to Versailles from his native Bronx. But [Fred Seitz] always had the right stuff in his own pedigree: his father had also been a Marine, serving on Iwo Jima; likewise an uncle, lost in a B-25. And when Seitz was five, he was blessed by a transformative change of environment—the family of six having previously squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment in the city—after his father joined the maintenance crew on a New Jersey farm belonging to the social reformer Geraldine Morgan Thompson. It was called Brookdale and, though since swamped by suburban development (for Brookdale University and a county park), Seitz would eventually preserve the name in tribute to the life-changing opportunity he found there. Because the farm, crucially, was divided between agriculture and a training track.

“All of a sudden, we’d left the streets of New York for this little hamlet in the country,” he recalls. “A wonderful place to grow up. And I became fascinated by those horses. There were all these different trainers in there, renting stalls, and the place had a great history going back. Regret had trained there—a Whitney farm was right across the road—and Colin was another that came off the place in the old days. And I was walking hots by the time I was 10. Of course, they gave me the easy horses, but I couldn’t believe they were paying me: I thought it should be the other way round. A dollar per horse! It was a wonderful opportunity to learn, and I was so lucky to be able to find out, so early in life, what I wanted to do with all my ensuing years.”

Read about the legacy of Brookdale Farm’s Fred Seitz from TDN

Life on the Backside of a Racetrack

“There’s a lot to be said about doing what you love to do,” Johnson said. “You’re not exactly doing it out of necessity, you’re doing it out of passion.”

Bob Johnson, 64, was born into the life he found passion for. His father trained race horses and he said his grandfather trained thoroughbreds for the government, way back when, in whichever World War the cavalry needed horses for.

Many of the people cleaning stalls and exercising quarter horses behind the track have their own family history in the sport. Some lineage runs as deep as the bloodlines that define the horses they dedicate their lives to.

Horse Racing picks for Saratoga race track on Saturday, July 30: Put Early Voting on your ballotThat life has given Johnson plenty of memorable days on the race track but even more days spent in the backside of the track, putting in the hours and committing to the lifestyle that leads to the races themselves, and the feeling those moments can bring…

Tyler Gibbs, a trainer from Logan, Utah, is his family’s third-generation in the horse racing industry. He’s worked with horses his whole life, which is common among those who make the tending to and training of horses their life’s work.

He sees a similar sense of community among those who contribute to the ecosystem of the backside. Most — not all — get along well. But they look out for each other nonetheless.

While circuiting tracks across the country during the season, many will cross paths at different tracks or even find themselves traveling a similar schedule throughout the season….

More on Life on the Backside of a Racetrack