Trainer Scott Gelner is a busy man. He is currently running horses at Harrah's Louisiana Downs and on Saturday sends Norman Stables' Taylor's Spirit to Churchill Downs to run in the Grade 2, $200,000 Pocahontas. Shaun Bridgmohan will pilot the Kentucky-bred daughter of Algorithms, who is undefeated in three starts for Gelner. She stretched out successfully in the $60,000 Happy Ticket at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 2 and will have to go an extra sixteenth of a mile Saturday.
“She's a nice filly and has handled everything well so far,” Gelner said.
Gelner will not make the trip to Kentucky as he and his wife, Felicia, will renew their vows on Saturday. They look forward to welcoming family members; many of whom could not make it to Louisiana for their wedding a decade ago.
“They couldn't get here because of the hurricane,” explained Gelner.
He has eight stalls at Churchill Downs; will have 40 at Delta Downs when their fall season begins and 24-30 at Fair Grounds when the New Orleans track opens in November. Plus, Gelner plans to send 12 to Sam Houston Race Park for its 2019 Thoroughbred meet.
“I was at Sam Houston back in 1994 as an assistant to my dad, John Charles Gelner,” he said.
Gelner has a very nice filly named Yes Gorgeous, who was also a stakes winner on Super Derby Day. He owns and trains the 3-year-old filly by Mass Media out of a mare named Isn't She Gorgeous. He purchased Yes Gorgeous for a mere $1,700 at the Louisiana Mixed Sale.
“I trained her mama for a few races,” said Gelner. “She had a few problems, but overcame them with her big heart. When I saw this filly at the sale, I wasn't sure what kind of career she would have.”
But in what has to be one of the most pleasant surprises, Yes Gorgeous has been a treasure for Gelner. Her victory in the $60,000 Elge Rasberry on Sept. 2 was her fourth in 17 starts. She has run second nine times and has already earned $208,455.
“You always dream about a sale purchase fulfilling your expectations,” said Gelner. “This filly is just a blessing from God for me and my family. She has handled everything we have ever asked: turf, dirt, even running against the boys.”
His father, John Charles Gelner, had a productive three-decade career in Texas and Louisiana. Both parents are deceased, and their loss is very difficult for Gelner. When Yes Gorgeous won in the driving rain on Super Derby day, Gelner wept following her victory.
“I really missed both my mom and dad that day,” said Gelner. “I knew they were with me and the rain just felt like their tears of joy.”
Gelner also trains In the Navy, owned by Kendel D. Standlee, who captured his fifth career win on Aug. 4 in the $60,000 Louisiana Turf Cup Classic.
“He's just a great turf horse,” said Gelner. “I am proud of the fact that he has won on each of the Louisiana turf courses.”
Both In The Navy and Yes Gorgeous will be pointed to Fair Grounds.
Gelner acknowledges the support of his owners, including Robbie and Mark Norman, Kendel Standlee, Red Rose Racing and Ty Smith for A.J. Foyt.
“Owners and good help are important to be successful in racing,” stated Gelner.
Gelner is currently the eighth-leading trainer at Harrah's Louisiana Downs. Purses were increased by $2,000 a race, effective Sept. 8 through the end of the meet, and Gelner expressed his appreciation.
“It's a big help,” he stated. “Louisiana Downs has stepped up to help the horsemen. We appreciate their efforts, for sure.”
The growth of Gelner's stable this year has been significant and 2018 is on track to be the most fruitful since he branched out on his own in 2006.
Born in Cameron, Texas, Gelner and his wife, Felicia reside in Lafayette, La., with their three children.
He pauses to reflect on this year and how he will manage his growing operation.
“Quite honestly, I trust in God,” he said. “He has always guided me in the right direction. Faith in God and the love of my family is what keeps me on track.”
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