Choosing a Trainer

October 11, 2019

A topic I knew was going to be asked at one point but not so soon. Choosing a trainer is the most important decision you have to make… even more important than the horse you bought. I guess you’re asking yourself “Isn’t the horse more important than the trainer?”. 

It’s really important that you get a trainer that knows what to do with your horse. You’re probably thinking I’m talking in riddles. Absolutely not. Choosing a trainer is like picking a doctor. Why do I say that you want one you’re on the same page with?  You’ve heard the expression “bed side manner”. It plays a big part in your relationship going forward. You want someone who always explains things and makes you feel comfortable. Let’s face it things can go wrong…and they will! No one gets absolution. It’s just the nature of the business. 

Remember, you are putting your investment in a trainer’s hands, he or she is now in charge of your horse. So with that being said, you need to ask yourself some serious questions. “Do I want to go to a big name trainer or do I want a smaller trainer who doesn’t have a lot of horses?”. There are pluses and minuses to that question. If you are a person who wants a close relationship with your trainer, I recommend you go to a smaller trainer. Obviously the more horses a trainer has, the less time they have to give you individual attention. 

Next, certain trainers excel in different areas.  Some are great 2 yr old trainers and/or are just good with young horses. Others are better with the made horses, meaning running and already have established their ability. Believe me there is a big difference. 
All horses develop problems as training progresses. Big name trainers can handle them but would rather not . Let’s face it, young horses haven’t faced the rigors of racing. They generally are easier to train once they get into a routine and like what they’re doing. They’re like kids, they like to play with horses, they like to go to the track. It takes a special trainer to understand them because they have trained so many of them. Young horses need to train in company meaning with other horses. It’s always better to train them that way, the more they’re around other horses the quicker they learn their trade. So if that is the route you want, seek them out, there are plenty of them. 

Let’s face it, everyone doesn’t want to start out with a young horse. It’s important that you pick out a trainer that wins! It’s easy with computers and the internet, to look them up. I highly recommend you do that. There are trainers that just know how to win and others, for one reason or another just don’t. That could be because they don’t have good stock or just don’t have enough horses. 
With all that being said… you the owner have to listen to your trainer. They are around your horse everyday. They are going to keep you in the loop when decisions have to be made. Whether you are a new or seasoned owner you always need to listen and make a decision together. 

The last and very important is the day rate!  All trainers have a day rate. Usually the bigger name trainers get bigger day rates. Day rates usually range from $50 to $150 a day. It depends on the track and the trainer what you will have to pay. So, if you do the math, it’s not cheap to own a race horse.  It makes it easier having a trainer you trust that will have you and your horse’s best interest as a priority. So, you can see it’s really important to take your time before you pick a trainer. I could go on and I will in other articles but for now, think about what I said. It’s really important.

See you at the races. 

Questions for JJ? Put them in the comments below or E-Mail him and he will do his best to answer them!

Contributing Authors

JJ Graci

JJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  and attended Villanova University. He has vast experience in horse racing and broadcasting. JJ has been a fixture in...

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