When he retired from Thoroughbred training in 2007, Michael Dickinson seemed to leave the game on his terms. He'd had a “great training career” by his own standards and certainly those of others, who dubbed him the “Mad Genius” for exploits such as saddling the first five finishers of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and winning the Breeders' Cup Mile two years apart with the same horse (Da Hoss) and only one prep in between.
Plus, Dickinson wanted to focus on his synthetic track company, Tapeta Footings, so he could give back to all racehorses by providing the safest possible surface.
But the wheels are always turning in the 66-year-old's mind, and eventually the gears shifted back to ideas for better serving the horse in training. After several years of research, he was finally ready last fall to reopen his Maryland farm and get back to the business of trying to win races — on a new set of terms.
We paid him a visit recently to check out his unique operation and learn more about a man who enjoys teetering between common sense and madness.
It was an experience I won't soon forget.
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