DEL MAR, Calif.— Andy Mathis is a 43-year-old trainer based out of Golden Gate Fields. He loves to come to Del Mar every summer and try his luck. This year it’s been very good.
With only 24 starts, Mathis has seven wins at the meet, good enough to place him seventh in the trainer standings. It has Mathis sitting on cloud nine.
“Better than I could have expected,” Mathis says. “Sometimes you get a little luck and there’s plenty of time you don’t.”
Mathis brought 28 horses to Del Mar at the start of the meet. Some have been claimed and the rest he’ll take back up to Northern California.
“My plan has never been to come down here and stay down here,” Mathis says. “I fully understand people who want to do that. I’m raising my kids in Walnut Creek, they’re in school so that’s my home. I’m not trying to make a new home.”
Mathis comes to Del Mar a week before the meet begins and stays thru the last week of racing.
“We don’t come here for a vacation,” Mathis says. “It’s all work. We run hard and go hard the whole way and whatever happens, happens.”
Mathis first started making the trip south in 2014 and he’s done it every year since, except for the first year of COVID. He got his trainer’s license in 2001 and has been based at Golden Gate Fields since then. He says he first became interested in working in horse racing while he was in college.
“I was going to a community college in San Francisco,” Mathis says, “and I was wrapping that up, figuring I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I had been going to the races at Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows and thought that (horse racing) could be something I’d like to get into. I got a job on the backside with Bill McLean at Golden Gate Fields and kind of fell in love with it.”
For a boy who grew up in Sonoma, California, a town just north of the Bay Area, Del Mar has always held a special charm for him.
“I have a good group of horses, a good group of Cal-breds,” Mathis says. “I like coming down here for the weather and the beach. The whole town, everybody knows there’s a racetrack and it’s a big deal. I think the thing for me is to be a part of that, to be racing in an environment like that. It’s exciting and you want to do good.”
Ironically, Mathis wasn’t even present for his first winner at Del Mar, an Argentina-bred horse named Igor in 2006. Instead, he had sent the horse to Art Sherman to run here.
“They’re all special here,” he offers. “You win a cheap claiming race and it’s exciting because it’s hard to win here. I never assume I’m going to get back in the winner’s circle. You run horses here you think are alive, that they’re going to run well…believe me anytime I win a race here at Del Mar I know it could be a couple years before I get back into the winner’s circle.“
Lately, that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Andy Mathis.
DMTC Press Release
Photo: Andy Mathis (Benoit Photo)