Report: ‘Super Trainers’ Making It Tougher Than Ever For Smaller, Younger Horsemen To Compete

by | 10.19.2017 | 10:04pm

According to an in-depth report by The Blood-Horse, the modern era of “super trainers” has made it tougher for new or mid-sized operations to compete.

The report indicates “super trainers” (defined as those with more than 400 starts in a given season) won almost a third of total available purses in the United States last year, and 55 percent of graded stakes races.

Complicating the issue is a reduction in the number of single-owner operations. New ownership entities are more often groups, which multiplies the number of people a trainer must coordinate with or meet to get the horse. Other groups are focused on winning classic races and therefore more likely to send a horse to a trainer with a proven track record at that level.

Read more at The Blood-Horse

  • gus stewart

    Here is the definition of the super trainer to many who know the difference. In advance, i dont blame any of them if the leaders in biz, allow it to be used.. attention to word allow. Sorry training techniques not applicable. Now, all meds, and supplements that increase oxygen in blood to give more endurance and speed, steriods given at a time in accordance with guidlines, when not detectable before race time. Im sure a few others ive missed,. This of course cost more money to the owner who trains under these ahhhhhhh super trainers that most owner either cant afford or think it doesnt matter. So 30 yesrs ago when it started and these ahhhhhhh so called average trainers found the fountain of training youth training more winner ahhhh not because of new training methods, became avaiable for owners, who just wanted to win at any cost human or equine. So these super trainers, that the industry allowed to attract bigger deep pocket owners, has now contributed to horse racings decline, hope this helps clarity

    • David Burris

      So, all these “super trainers” in your eyes are just really good at cheating? Nothing to do with having a system that works, superior training ability, and getting all the best horses?

      • gus stewart

        Sure buying the best stock and and open pocket book at sales helps,, and they got into that position from my above comments from many years ago. You call it cheating i didnt, i said within the rules of what is permissible with timing and more expenses in vet bills. Sure training 30 years you get better at timing a stakes horses timing between races and get better in knowing how fit they are after a layoff, but many who also have trained for years dont have these weatlhy owner to afford the higher vet bills, so take 2 allowance horses with equal abilty, trainers both in biz trained stakes horse’s and won stakes. Allowance horse with steroids off layoff and extended blood testing to optimal number will beat other horse probably 75 percent of time.. u cant make money running second or third, only in maiden races..

        • Meydan Rocks

          I wish Aiden O’Brien would weigh in on your take on things. Boy wouldn’t that make for a fascinating discussion?

    • Jim Tully

      That is the hardest post to follow I have ever read. I have no freakin’ idea what you are talking about.

      • gus stewart

        Then u are clueless like many of the posts i have read this morning..i mean training isnt like being a athlete who is just more gifted then another,, jordan kershaw, etc. I am laughing at posts horse training has been going on for what 80 years, the only time 30 35 percent on a yearly basis started was in the late 80s forward. Comments im reading about these trainers is a joke.. of course over years you get better at your craft, and well bred horses and confirmation make a difference,, but dont fool yourself thinking that these guys didnt take advantage of the loose veiw of meds and what i posted to use to thier advantage,,

        • Jim Tully

          What I mean is that your grammar and punctuation are terrible. It is disjointed and thus hard to read and comprehend.

          • gus stewart

            Ok thats true, i dont take much time in posting and checking my grammar, sorry for thinking it was my thoughts on super trainers was the issue.

          • Garrigan

            Actually, just thinking thoughts would be invisible to the rest of us.
            Good communication of those thoughts would go a long way to having us understand and agree with your thoughts.

        • billy

          Fully agree….check the charts speed figures ect….keep in mind only 2 ways to be faster either have higher stride frequency or longer stride length….some horses just jump way off the charts then fall off badly then back up and used up in short time frames…and I don’t wanna hear being in form and out don’t buy it…see horses run track records be broken down 3 months later

          • gus stewart

            Thanks for understanding, u are one of the few

          • billy

            Jacobson ness Navarro Vasquez preciado ect…..yea I see it it’s very blatant too sometimes

        • HowardRoark314

          excuses, excuses, excuses. A bunch of loser trainers are also abusing drugs.

      • Erin Casseday

        I just stated the same thing! LOL

    • Erin Casseday

      Your mumble jumble of words clarifies nothing. That whole paragraph makes no sense.

      • gus stewart

        Your in fantasy land if my mumble jumble on super trainers isnt accurate. Changing shoes, blinkers, variation in training, workout patterns, gelding a horse, these and a few more are utilized by all trainers. But when horses improve by 10 lengths off a claim two weeks later, all those normal training methods wont improve horses to that level. So continue to dream in fantasy land, its probably better then seeing racings negative part

        • Erin Casseday

          Not that. It is the rambling on of your post that makes it hard to decifer. Not trying to be the grammar police, but using actual sentence structure and punctuation would be helpful to those reading it.

  • Jon

    This is the exact reason the industry hated Michael gill. To me its no fun to even watch a race that super trainers that have entries. That’s about every race at every track. Oh wait, i’m wrong I can watch Portland meadows or ??? someone help me…..

    • Dadnatron

      Trainers become ‘super’ because they get the best out of the horses they are given. This causes other’s to give them more and better horses. You might see Pletcher, Baffert, and Brown winning a lot of big races… but it seems like everyone posting on this page is missing the fact that they are losing a ton of races as well. The biggest reason for their success is prior success and HUGE barns. Fill a barn with 150 horses and there is a good chance there is a star or two in it.

      • Jon

        I agree, but if you mention broberg, lake, ness, And a pile more at mid level tracks this crowd immediately say they are just cheaters. They are ‘super’ trainers with the amount of horses they run at track.

        • Dadnatron

          Then perhaps the ‘Super trainer’ definition is the problem. I know there are several small track claiming trainers who run horses back at short intervals and get very high ‘starts’ without a lot of high success. And I ABSOLUTELY believe there are trainers at all tracks who cheat. But I believe smaller tracks and smaller trainers are more likely to cheat. Winning a G1 and then getting pinged for cheating costs the trainer a LOT more than it would a trainer at Presque Isle.

          • Jon

            Agree 100%

      • Jim Tully

        Baffert wouldn’t actually be considered a “super trainer” based on the criterion of 400 starts. He has started 239 runners this year so it looks like he will fall well short of 400.

        • Neigh Sayer

          Actually Jim, Baffert doesn’t run his as often and picks his spots so he has fewer starts per the quantity he has. Don’t know if still true but he is one who’s given an exemption to get more stalls than allowed per trainer. And he has more than a hundred come into the system each year. He does have horses on farms and gets reports and when the best of those are ready they go to the track to his barn. His system is just a bit different not having the assistants with strings at other tracks. I agree it’s a little tighter system.

          • Jim Tully

            Much tighter, Neigh. The top 6 NA trainers in purse winnings and their starts for the year through today:
            1, Brown 665
            2. Pletcher 875
            3. Baffert 239
            4. Assmussen 1,509
            5. Casse 1,049
            6. Maker 860

            Jimmy Jerkens at #14 is the only trainer in the top 20 in purses won who has less starters this year than Baffert.

          • Jon

            Jim do you know if Baffert picks yearlings and two year olds at sales?

          • Neigh Sayer

            And he never misses a sale, never, not one, but rarely travels with a horse unless it’s one of a few very big ones expecting big things.

          • Jim Tully

            Like he answered when asked how we can know when a horse of his will win; “when I put ’em on a plane.”

          • Jon

            I wonder how Baffert would do if he based all his horses in Ny?

          • Jim Tully

            He does great in NY and he isn’t even based there. He might be 3rd behind Pletcher and Brown in NY Graded wins this year just with shipins.

          • Jon

            Good point. I just think the fields are weaker and smaller in ca.

          • Jim Tully

            Depends. CA IS very much like an island in that they don’t get as many horses shipping in as other circuits.

          • Eric

            Hard to know, but he is 68: 21-13-5 since 2013 in NY.

          • jarmstead

            Great info. Eric. Thanks… good to know this.

          • MR.DR.

            please……………….

          • Jim Tully

            Don’t know about yearlings but certainly the 2 yr old sales.

          • Jon

            Ok thanks

          • Neigh Sayer

            He goes to every sale Jim, every one of them, yearlings, 2 year olds in training, mixed, all of them. Many times a horse goes for that big money it’s Baffert standing beside the ticket signer.

          • Jon

            Does he hand pick the horses his clients buy or does someone do it for him?

          • Neigh Sayer

            I’m sure he works with the connections people to make decisions, but he is well known for saying who he wants, and many give him credit for having a good eye.

          • Jim Tully

            People forget he cut his teeth after quarter horses on frugal buys like Silver Charm. He didn’t step in to the TB world with deep pocketed owners. He made his way.

          • Neigh Sayer

            Actually it was his friend Mike Pegram that gave him his start in thoroughbreds and gave him I think a budget of one million to go buy horses for him.

          • Jim Tully

            That ain’t that much, lol. He probably had to spread that $ out.

          • Neigh Sayer

            In the very early 90’s? That’s hardly a bootstrap start.

          • Jim Tully

            No but the horses that originally put him on the TB map were Thirty Slews, Cavonnier and Silver Charm, hardly high priced horses by any means.

            Bottom line is the guy has an eye for horseflesh AND the sixth sense what to do with it.

          • Neigh Sayer

            Of course, he did well for himself and Pegram in the process, but bottom line, he didn’t make his way in the sense you first stated it, he was given a million bucks to buy what he wanted, and did do very well with it.

          • Jim Tully

            Sorta like Trump, lol.

          • jarmstead

            That’s absolutely correct. It was in excess of $1 Million USD (“Mickey D $”) per year for a couple of years. “Mickey D $” was from Pegram’s ownership in about 20 different McDonald’s franchises.

            The “Watson Family” from automobile dealership fame also jumped in at about that same time. Money, timing, luck, and hard work. Baffert cut his teeth at the U of AZ Equine program and dabbled in Quarter horses first.

            He soon learned that “sprinting” paid less than “routing” and learned how to get horses more fit. The rest is history.

          • MR.DR.

            what are you guys talking about…….heck no……….people bring him great horses too……….

          • Eric

            Or, uh, maybe he is standing beside the consignor, and Baffert’s owner is 3000 miles away. If you know what I mean.

          • Neigh Sayer

            Like I said, “the ticket signer”, and it’s not uncommon that when a horse goes for close to or over a million he’s right there.

          • HowardRoark314

            He does so now for Juddmonte, i.e. Arrogate.

          • Jon

            Okay thank you. He sure has a great eye for great ones!

          • Neigh Sayer

            And his horses so far this year average only 2.48 starts per horse.
            Bottom line, even though he has less than 400 starts he is certainly a super trainer, tons come into the system, and the best make his barn which has more stalls than any other trainer. And he just doesn’t start them as often.

          • Jon

            Oh that’s right your still sour over Navarro……

          • Neigh Sayer

            What? What does anything I said have anything to do with Navarro.

          • Jon

            we argued about Navarro before. and you hadn’t replied. so I figured you were mad and not going to reply. you seemed knowledgeable about bafferts barn. that’s why I asked you. thanks. just was curious who picked his horses.

          • Neigh Sayer

            I responded to that question Jon, and I think all your questions as I always would if someone asked. If I missed one let me know, don’t jump to conclusions.

          • jarmstead

            Great information to have. I have always thought that Baffert (in the past 10-12 years) has changed his operation to accommodate his talent pool.

            Just look at what his barn won with Arrogate’s earnings in 2016-17. He then develops the Collected’s, West Coast, etc… as they show/display talent (to Baffert’s eye) that tells him they are ready to compete or ship to compete.

            Baffert has a tremendous amount of political capital that is still un-used from American Pharaoh and Arrogate. He’s not afraid to ship horses when they are ready to run.

          • MR.DR.

            you cant figure out why?……..they are all super horses………..why do you run them less?……..anyone?…………anyone?………beuller?

        • Eric

          Technically, Baffert is stabled at both SA and LRC, and has an assistant at LRC that runs the show there. So he isn’t really putting his hands on all his horses.

          It is kind of shocking to see that Baffert is only going to have 300 starts or so this year given the number of horses that he has.

          • Jim Tully

            Techinically, yes. But his string is all in CA is my point. He isn’t stabled throughout the country as are guys like Maker, Assmussen and Casse.

          • Erin Casseday

            LRC?

          • Eric

            LRC is the track abbreviation for the daytime racing at Los Alamitos Race Course. Baffert’s “A” team is stabled at Santa Anita, and the second string train out of Los Alamitos, under the eye of assistant trainer Mike Marlow.

          • Erin Casseday

            Ok. Most just refer to it as Los Al.

          • jarmstead

            On the SAM at Tucson OTB’s, Los Alamitos day racing is: LOSALDAY (we call it “lose all day”). At night, it’s called: LOSALNITE (which is “lose all night). We are still waiting for them to fix the IRS “Signer” issue.

  • CEOmike

    The development of the “super trainers” are simply the result of economics. The disparity between the high end stake and other races in purses simply means the “rich get richer and the poor poorer”
    North American racing needs two things: A national (including Canada) regulator to set dates and oversee practices and an income equalization plan for tracks.
    All other major sports learned the lesson that if you destroy the smaller operations by the rich chasing the big prizes the sport suffers. Australia learned this lesson and the bet take in a country of 24 million is THREE TIMES that of the US. Horse racing is the second largest sport.
    One thing to do immediately is to require horses to run as an entry if they have the same trainer, this will make owners think twice about putting a second tier horse with a trainer with Grade 1 horses. It would also make Grade 1 owners unhappy with “mega” trainers if they also had to share a purse with a second tier horse.

    • Dadnatron

      I’m not keeping up with your statements above. Are you proposing that all tracks share proceeds and all horses share proceeds? I just am not understanding anything at all about your final paragraph.

    • Neigh Sayer

      One thing I agree with is multiple horses entered by one trainer should be one entry. They make multiples of an owner as one entry and want us to believe it’s for the integrity but that’s a sham. The owner is the last to know if a trainer is being shady about something. They don’t couple the trainers horses because they want more betting interests and this is wrong. Multiple horses by one trainer should be one betting interest and coupled.
      However, I think you’re confused that the purse money is divided among that multiple entry, it is not, the purse money is given properly to the placing of the horse.

      • Erin Casseday

        Arrogate, Collected and West Coast as one betting interest. Would that better the odds or worsen them? Better the odds for the other horses? Interesting!!!

    • brussellky

      “The disparity between the high end stake and other races in purses simply means the “rich get richer and the poor poorer”

      Actually, the disparity if MUCH less in North America than in Europe, the UK in particular. There are many problematic issues being discussed here. This is not one of them.

  • the ferret

    This Blood-Horse article focuses on the wrong determination. A “Super Trainer” is one who wins 25% or more of all their entries. They should be categorized as “Magic Dust” trainers. “Super” denotes some kind of excellence. These despicable trainers cheat constantly and you should start by looking at the top echelon of the sports.

    • Dadnatron

      I don’t think these guys are winning because of cheating. I believe they are winning because they have a very large barn, and they send horses which can’t run away. They charge alot and if the horse isn’t cutting it, they are sent elsewhere quickly. This is why you see these major trainers with early big winners but much less often do they have late bloomers. If they aren’t winning early as a 3yo they are history. The late bloomers are being sent to other trainers who typically have to bring them along with more ‘losing’ races prior to the win.

      Its the difference between 1A schools and 5A schools. The kids aren’t inherently different, but there are a WHOLE LOT more to choose from and therefore more likely to get the positions on the field filled with better players.

      • the ferret

        Don’t dispute your observation. However some of it falls apart when you consider trainers like Jamie Ness, Jorge Navarro, and that women trainer at Penn National Stephany ? who got caught. They keep/kept running lower class animals. Also, I have been creating and maintaining my own “Byers” since I first read his book “Beyer On Speed” in the early 80’s. This does not happen unequivocally every time but just review any horse they claim. Typically the sped number moves up to a time that equates to a 3-4 length faster race than they ran previously. Magic feed or they just like their trainer better? Also take special note what happens to horses that are claimed from their barns. They regress or are laid up. Finally. well not really finally, the Magic Dust horses always seem to re-break in deep stretch.
        Reflect on Bob Baffert’s 2-yo’s in training some years back in California. Nine of them died before they could get to the races. The common ingredient in each animal was heart medicine that speeds up the heart. Coincidence…hardly

      • NY Breeder/Owner

        Regardless of your definition of “super trainer”, how they are created, or how they win, It is imperative for the health of racing to curb their stranglehold. They limit field size, as they control the bulk of runners in the jurisdiction that they are racing. Smaller field sizes directly influence handle negatively. Racing should get with the times. All other professional sports and even collegiant sports require rosters be submitted to the league or NCAA. Those athletes on the roster are the only allowed to play. Racing jurisdiction once controlled the number of horses trainers had with their stall list. The stall list no longer works as mega trainers just rent stall off property to stable additional runners. This could be controlled by a list of designated starters for a meet. If a trainer has 200 horses but is only allowed to start 50 at a meet, owners that have horses further down the depth chart will move their horses to a barn that they could start from. The argument against would be that horses will leave the jurisdiction with their “super trainers”. I don’t see this happening. If for example, you own a horse that can compete in NY for the best purses it’s highly unlikely that you will move you horse to a jurisdiction with lesser purses. It is also unlikely that the mega trainer will endure the cost of operating in multiple jurisdictions.

    • MR.DR.

      you should give us your thoughts on talking about things you dont know………….

  • Barry

    When dealing with a group of owners, designate one owner as the “Contact”. The trainer will primarily deal with the “Contact” and that person will be responsible for communicating with the rest of the group.

  • Bryan Langlois

    Only thing that will reverse this trend is what will never happen (or likely won’t anyway) a national regulator who basically says trainers can only have so many horses at one time in their stable. if you want to argue, “well…what about sick or injured horses”, then fine make some sort of IR list like in other sports where you have to activate or deactivate horses somehow like they do in other pro sports. Again, I know it would never happen for a litany of reasons.
    I guess someone else would have to look at whether these super trainers are winning at a 30% clip because they have that much of a superior animal or if it is a sheer numbers game where because they have more horses of course the law of averages says they should win more.
    Something has to happen, though, or the sport is just heading for an implosion, and it will take a real forward thinker who has the courage to really stand up and make that change, and take the risk with it, to preserve things for the long term.

  • peggy conroy

    Super trainers are often good horsemen with excellent connections and business/political skills giving them the ability to buy at the top and develop their horses at the best facilities with the best of everything. Of course they win. There are many excellent trainers/horsemen (Jerkens, Mott, etc.) that do well on a smaller scale who don’t go thru so many horses to get the big ones. These are, in my opinion, really the super trainers.

    • Meydan Rocks

      “Super trainers are often good horsemen with excellent connections and business/political skills”.

      So very well said! At the very least, two most important skill sets must be mastered. The ability to care for and train a race horse while taking care of the business side of things.

      Business is an art from in and of itself.

      Ask the CEO of GE (we bring good things to life). Some folks can’t even master the business side of ANY thing let alone juggle business with something as seriously complex as caring for and training a race horse.

  • Mike Shaughnessy

    End illegal immigration and we will see a return to many small stables and less conglomerates.

    • Jon

      Please explain why?

      • Guest

        Illegal immigration has nothing to do with it.

        • Jon

          Couldn’t agree more. That’s why I ask for explanation.

      • jarmstead

        I know what you’re thinking… and you’re correct. He won’t come back to state an obviously biased/racist viewpoint. The majority of the people on the backside is a great example for another discussion.

  • Guest

    Speaking from experience like over 40 years in the racing business I can say that super trainers exist because many of the owners don’t give smaller trainers a shot to train horses. They want to go with the big name trainers who have big stables already this is how they grow even bigger. And you then see the smaller outfits get out because they no longer can compete with these big barns. There are plenty of hood trainers that never get a shot of growing their stable due to the reason I stated above. It’s a shame really have seen it time and again in this industry. Speaking the truth here

    • Guest

      Plenty of good trainers correction above

    • Minneola

      From my experience, I have found that some of the owners just like to have bragging rights that they hired one of these super trainers. It’s an ego thing. I’ve heard it, first-hand. There are plenty of trainers with small barns that are very, very good but are not willing to sell their souls just to win a race. They play by the rules but they are, too often, overlooked by those owners. I’d like to see the day that the USADA gets the authority to check horses for PEDs and I hope that they start from the top, especially based on the number of wins as well as percentage of wins. That is where cheating, too often, is rewarded with those wins, while the honest trainers have a very difficult time competing with those cheats. Lance Armstrong was at the pinnacle of his sport (with a lot of top-level wins) and, then, we found why: cheating with performance enhancing drugs. And, the USADA has more abilities to keep up with the newer drugs that are being used in more than just one sport. Those sports borrow from each other.

      • Guest

        You are exactly right in what you said I totally agree with you. You see I am a trainer on the east coast and a woman trainer at that. It is very hard to get horses to train unless you know someone with deep pockets or have horses already. Most of these big trainers with high percentages are doing “something ” what that is I have no idea. I don’t believe in giving horses what they are not allowed. Follow the rules that is what they are for I say! Level the playing field here boys! But that isn’t the case. It’s hard to compete being a clean trainer it’s tough and even more tough being a women..that knows how to train a horse wether the men think we do or not. I beg to differ…..

        • Minneola

          Adversity does make one stronger. It isn’t easy but, in the long run, it is true. Unfortunately, one may not see the rewards in the short term or, even, in their own lives, but it does contribute to helping others that follow you. And, one reward that can never be taken away from you is the knowledge that you did the best you could and you did it honestly. Keep your chin up and know that!

    • HowardRoark314

      B.S. All these current super trainers started out as the small guy. Or, worked as a small guy asst for many years before stealing a few owners. Super trainers are basically horsemen who looked for opportunities and paid their dues, while you are looking to give the little guys excuses.

      • Meydan Rocks

        That’s what I thought. I can’t think of one current super trainer who didn’t come from either a smaller track or was an assistant for at least 7 – 10 years before striking out.

        • HowardRoark314

          Yep. Baffert took several years to amass 100 total starts. Romans began his career 0-59. Pletcher interned under Lukas, Brown under Frankel. I know some tough old hardboots who have always been ‘small’ guys, so I do have some sympathy, but not at the expense of the supertrainers. Yes they wield a lot of political power now, but not at the start of their careers – they were ‘small’ once too.

          • Meydan Rocks

            Yep. Everything is swell until that often dreaded word “business” is attached to it and then whatever lovely endeavor that is lucky or unlucky enough to get hybridized with the business of business goes into a sh*tter of sorts. Sigh.

          • J. Nasium

            That’s probably true. I remember someone telling me about an article that said that George Steinbrenner, and listen I loved the guy, wanted Bill Mott to train some horses for him. Everything was set until Mott told Steinbrenner of his rule of speaking to owners on the phone during a designated time, maybe 10- 11 in the morning ONLY. George said forget it. I also raced a small stable of usually between 8 and 12 horses. At one time 4 were stakes horses (2 Graded) a mix of allowance and 15- 20,000 claimers. I was with my trainer for over 20 years. He had maybe 4 or 5 for other owners at any given time. Not one day passed when someone, usually a friend, would stop by my box and ask me why this guy was training for me and that they could hook me up with one of the top nationally known trainers where supposedly I belonged. Is that a joke? I did nothing but make money and had the time of my life with my guy and still got pressured to leave him. People want the “big” trainer, they want the Turf Club and all that goes with it. Me? Just make sure the money is in my horseman’s account the day after a win….LOLLL

      • Guest

        No excuses here plain hard facts seeing it with my eyes on the backside west coast and east coast alike. Seeing the smaller trainer stay small is due to owners wanting there horses to be with the big outfits. Good in some cases bad in another depending on what kind of owner you are. Want to be with the big trainers and pay top day money well this is the place for you. Want to have a trainer not even know which horse is yours or what it looks like this is the big barn for you. Not all big barns are like this but many are too. Big barns grow smaller trainers well they struggle and I have seen alot quit too. Anyways you can go on and on this is what I see

        • Minneola

          Another aspect of those big barns with super-trainers: If one doesn’t have that high pedigree horse, chances are pretty good that the super-trainer will just pass that horse down to some assistant. You allude to that. And, some (many?) owners don’t know squat about what is going on. Small barns with great trainers will give a lot more attention to each horse. I think of Art Sherman. Had California Chrome gone to another super-trainer in Southern California, would that horse have been overlooked and never been considered as worthy of the Kentucky Derby? Or, would that future champion horse have been relinquished to small allowance races or, even, claiming ones? (I shutter at that thought!)

      • greg

        smaller trainers (1 of whom I gave a start to) are at a HUGE disadvantage, here are a few reasons: Top riders won’t ride for you, if you need a horse to train in company the bigger barns won’t help, you don’t have the $$$ to get the better quality feed, or people, the racing office will not write a race you need. Those are just a few reasons, but think if you as an owner had 2-3 horses with a smaller outfit and your horse needed any of the above, what would you do??

        • Luke

          Can see your point of view but this is totally not true. Have seen many good small trainers feed very good feed, and many can get their horses to the track in the morning to train. Just don’t agree with this aspect that they all have no money that is a perception you have made. Many small barns I have been in run well horses get what they need. Been in this a long time seen many barns.

    • greg

      This is also why the cheaters are able to prosper, they win illegally and are rewarded with horses from owners who only care about winning at whatever way necessary. In fact I just saw that somebody with a public syndicate that races from coast to coast had a horse with one of the biggest cheaters on the West Coast even though he/she publically laments said trainers, I will admit I was very surprised, and disappointed, but until a deep pocketed owner with many horses stops rewarding bad behaviour it will continue.

  • WT61

    You don’t need to be a good horseman to be a “super trainer.” You need 1) A large number of horses in training so statistically you look good. The more horses you have the better chance you have to win. It’s the same with stallions. The more foals they have, the more chances they have for winners. And 2) Clients with big pocketbooks that can buy the best stock. Not implying that the million dollar horses are the best because they more often than not fail, but that the clients can afford the most astute agents that can find the best horses. Finally 3) A “super trainer” is a good politician. If they ever leave the track they should run for office.

    • MR.DR.

      what a goofball………….

  • Lukas started the trend by racing in divisions around the country. Others tried it, but they failed to make an impact at the highest level. At the time Lukas came into prominence, tracks with the best racing put a limit on the number of stalls any one trainer could have. This rule was flaunted across the country by trainers who took a second or third barn that was operated on by a son of daughter. The late Jimmy Kilroe, who is arguably the last great director of racing in North America, was mindful of the pitfalls of such practices and did all he could to foster the idea of giving small trainers a chance and nurturing them. He would give a few stalls to some of the most unlikely veterans–old men that hadn’t won a race since Lindy traversed the Atlantic. But he was fiercely loyal and fair to all trainers and he would not stand for those who flaunted the rules. As time passed and the rules slackened, tracks began to totally cater to the bigger trainers and now the whole thing has gotten out of hand. From the perspective of somebody with a public syndicate that races from coast to coast, I find it increasingly difficult to maintain horses with smaller trainers, because the super trainers control the jockeys. Bobby Frankel started the pressure tactics with jockey sand it has spiraled out of control. Today we live in an environment where the top trainers call the shots at some tracks and one notorious trainer reportedly has successfully placed enough pressure at the highest level of the game to successfully alter the distances of a major race. The biggest victims of this trend are the young trainers who find it nearly impossible to begin their careers because of the difficulty in attracting owners. This is very bad for the development of the sport in the long run–should there even be such a thing.

    • Jon

      Well said!

      • I would put him in the same category as Oscar Barrera.

        • Jon

          Agree! Thanks

    • JustJoe

      Don’t forget Jack Van Berg. He was highly successful running at multiple tracks and became the first trainer ever to win 5,000 races.

      • I didn’t forget. I referenced him but not by name.

    • Neigh Sayer

      The point you made about the jockey’s and getting tied up to the big trainers is very true and a contributing factor.

    • MR.DR.

      breaking news………the field sizes are tiny………..there IS ROOM…………….everything is a “problem” with you…………the best get the best……if a trainer is young and great……..they can make it…..

    • Guest

      I agree with you on some aspects not all. I have been in this sport a very long time I was born into it and my father was a trainer for 50 years. I have had the opportunity of growing up on the backside since I was born. My father trained on the west coast for years. Anyways I agree with you on the track politics as the tracks do cater to big stables yes that is true. The jockey thing I don’t agree with so much. You see jockeys are much the same as trainers there are many talented ones but not all get a chance to ride the better horses. Much like small trainers never get the top quality horses. In my opinion riding a good quality rider that is not a top rider can help you they are hungry they want to win! I like riding a rider that tries that has talent not necessarily the “top” rider. You can’t get them anyways all the time.

      • Hamish

        Jock agents are the wheeler-dealers working in conjunction with the best % trainers, or a trainer that is known to have a horse “ready” to race. For starters, why doesn’t the program at the track and whatever source of PP’s one uses, publish what agents work for which jocks, particularly those agents representing more than one jockey? This should not be a secret known only to the racetrack “insiders.”

        • Guest

          Not sure good point. The only way you would know what agents represent what jockeys in the program are by the current condition book. And even at that jockeys may have a couple agents during the meet. You see agents and jockeys hire and fire like the wind changing direction. Some long standing agents with jockeys yes that’s true but lots of jockeys do change agents

          • Hamish

            Why can’t we all know who arranged the jockey to ride a certain horse in a certain race? At the moment entries are drawn, the jock was represented by an agent, who was it? If the current condition book is old news relative to what agent represents what jockey, then make what’s in the program or PP’s the accurate choice.

    • Harry Yost

      In 1973 the CHRB authorized splitting of entries. Only Pres Jenuine, then GM of Western Harness, stepped up and voiced disapproval. He pointed to the fact it would give a negative perception as trainers split entries, winning with the longer price. In some races now we have trainers with 2,3 & 4 entries controlling small fields. When this rule was implemented it was only for Stakes, Handicaps, and Graded races. Now you can take bottom level claimers and one trainer can enter multiple entries to fill fields. This rule, more than anything else in my opinion, has caused the demise of the small barn and given young trainers multiple hurdles to overcome as “super-barns” control the entry box and a decreasing owner base.

    • Tinky

      Bingo, though of course the situation is even more insidious than that.

      Among other problems that have been created due to the concentration of horses into a few barns is that the condition book, which – believe it or not – used to be written with the development of the horse in mind, has been largely displaced by a Chinese menu (including the “extra races”) of hybrid races used solely (and often desperately) to fill the next day’s card.

      Is it any surprise, when seven of the nine 1x runners that would be suited by a mile or longer hail from three barns, that such races rarely go? Or that three-year-olds must face older horses and multiple winners rather than taking the incremental steps up that used to be standard?

      Etc.

    • Concerned Observer

      Analyse any business in decline and you will find a large number of seemingly small decisions that in the long run have had a major and detrimental impact on the survival of the business. Horse racing (in my opinion) delegates too many decisions to one dimensional lower managers that have hurt the business. Individually these are not fatal, but add them up and it is death by a thousand cuts.

      This discussion is a good example. Little trainers bring in most new owners, the mega trainers just land them after someone else hooked them. Stall policy is a factor, letting the mega trainers control the condition book is another, and reducing race distances makes the program of 7 of 8 races, all boring 6 furlongs events is another. Too many little bad decisions, result in a very bad ending.

    • G. Rarick

      There’s an argument to be made, of course, that the big trainers got that way because they were sharp and good and won races. True. But what began as a virtuous circle becomes a vicious one, because the super-trainers get so big they can only deal with big owners, and everyone else gets squeezed out. Small trainers have to come up with the goods to stay alive, but it has become increasingly impossible with the playing field so skewed. We hang on and try to do our best, hoping the big break comes. It if doesn’t, we go the way of the dodo, and none of the big guys will cry about that. Small owners should stick with small trainers, because at least we know what color their horse is because we actually train it, not just phone it in.

  • Helen Shelley

    My experience in California is that this state milks the whole industry dry their Cash Cow is leaving cost of insurance in California by every County tax on claims tax on out-of-state owners tax on everything that they can tax and then tax on top of that

  • MR.DR.

    just say “thank you”……………

  • marlboro2x2

    This article demonstrates what we all already know- the game has been and will continue to be dominated by chad, todd and bob

  • Nathan Drake

    Is there any aspect of life that this postmodern neo-marxism hasn’t seeped into yet?

  • Nathan Drake

    What’s the point of the article other than to state the obvious?

    Are we also now gonna start complaining and rewriting rules because HOF jockeys get better mounts than an 18 yr old bug? Jeeeze people……your hidden affinity for Marxism is showing.

  • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    Well then if there are so called Super Trainers, I would like to see a Super Track then!

  • Richard Holmes

    When the same small group of trainers get almost all the good horses, it’s bad for the bettors and it’s bad for business. In practically half the races I look at, one of these super trainers has a 4-5 shot that looks like the horse to beat. I don’t want to bet a race like that, unless I think I have come up with a horse that has a reasonable chance to beat the favorite. In many of these races I can’t come up with a horse to beat the favorite, so I skip the race. It’s too bad they can’t come up with some type of rules that prevent the super trainers from getting all the good horses. In other sports they have salary caps. I’m not sure what they could do in horseracing.

  • Michael Castellano

    What has happened to racing has happened to other industries. As it is without unified leadership at the higher levels, and basically decentralized, money ( i.e. profits ) is the driving force and in the end makes most decisions in its short term pursuit. Its pursuit trumps rational planning for the good of the sport and long term mutual strategies. Rules, policies, and regulations are tied to the same dependence on expedience and short term profits. Racing will surely destroy itself if it keeps up in this manner. And in its current form is perpetually unable to grapple with both its decline and its myriad of problems.

    • jarmstead

      Excellent observations, Michael. The whole point of this sport is that it is truly vertically integrated from Breeding/Sales of a $1.5 M Foal… right on down to what doesn’t sell at the Sales. These horses end up in $3500 O.C. races at Turf Paradise.

  • Victoria Keith

    I feel bad for the Blood-Horse and the authors of this story. They did the work and paid the bills to write this story, so why aren’t we all discussing it at the BH site instead? The clicks are important to their advertisers and revenue stream.

    • billy

      Well me personally I don’t believe the bloodhorse allows me to speak freely within reason and I don’t agree with that

  • Neigh Sayer

    What? We weren’t talking about payoffs, I mentioned distribution of purse money which is exactly for the spot they finish regardless of coupling. You have started an entirely different conversation.

    • brussellky

      “Multiple horses by one trainer should be one betting interest and coupled.”

      Those were your words and my response was 100% on point. How you can state, after saying that, that I am trying to start a different conversation is truly bizarre.

      • Neigh Sayer

        Because it had nothing to do with payoffs, there was no conversation about payoffs, however I did address that to your reply.

        • brussellky

          Coupling for betting purposes has EVERYTHING do with payoffs.

          • Neigh Sayer

            But that wasn’t the point I was making and you know that, it had to do with…..never mind you know what it had to do with. But if you want to bring it up and discuss which we already did, that’s fine. Carry on fella.

          • brussellky

            If you didn’t want a reply on that SPECIFIC statement, you should not have made it and stuck to the other subject matter. That is your fault. Don’t accuse others of straying off point when you receive an on point reply to something you wish you had not said because you (apparently) strayed off your own point.

          • Neigh Sayer

            No, you made it about something else, which is fine and which I then responded to after you brought it up, which I thought was over and done long ago and yet you’re still talking.
            My point, which you seemed to miss by a mile and rather then talked about something else in a derogatory manner, was that if the powers to be couple owners horses for the integrity of the sport, then they are being disingenuous at best to then allow trainers entries go uncoupled. As I said and as I pointed out which you continue to ignore is the owner has the least to do with anything unscrupulous so they are not being honest when if it’s about integrity then they should absolutely couple trainers entries, but they don’t because they want more betting interests. Wow, I’m exhausted trying to get you to understand something I thought was simple but you refuse to understand or even try because you want to yell at me about payoffs. So, I’m done but you fella are welcome to carry on as much as you want.

          • brussellky

            I did not miss what you state is your overriding point. I am against all couplings. Another poster’s reply to your post dealt solely with odds changes resulting from your proposal. You obviously failed to make your point clear by bringing up things you now wish to minimize. Blaming others for that shortcoming diminishes you.

          • Neigh Sayer

            LOL, I didn’t blame anyone for anything, unfortunately you chose to be derogatory about something I didn’t say, and now you choose to insult me, have at it tiger.

          • brussellky

            How do you deny saying something there is a written record of? Wow!!!!!

          • Neigh Sayer

            Wow, after a lengthy explanation of what I said which I thought anyone with a brain would understand you still don’t understand. And you’re still talking about it? Kind of sad.

          • brussellky

            Any 3rd party reading our string can easily identify the reasonable person and the narcissistic nut. I’ll leave it at that. Good night.

          • Neigh Sayer

            And you’re still talking? It is interesting that after my explanation of what you didn’t understand that you then said I wasn’t clear as an excuse yet when you read it again you did understand it. Oh well. Thankfully this is finally over, no need to be embarrassed.

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