The ‘Hart’ of a Champion

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Jeremiah Englehart in the winner’s circle for Forty Under’s Pilgrim victory | Sarah Andrew

By Carly Silver

Jeremiah Englehart’s recent successes are more than 30 years in the making. The 41-year-old conditioner grew up working underneath his father, leading Finger Lakes trainer Chris Englehart. After branching out on his own in the mid-2000s, he has been racking up stakes wins ever since.

Despite the fact that his operation is based in New York, Englehart himself was born in Pennsylvania during a Penn National meet.

“All [six] kids were involved in the horses when they were young. Most still are,” said Chris Englehart.

Jeremiah clarified, “My brother Jeffrey trains; my brother Justin, who’s the youngest, he’s a jock’s agent at Finger Lakes; my brother Jesse and I own some horses together and he doesn’t work in the business anymore but he’s always involved; my sister [Christie], she works at Highland Hospital in Rochester, but she’s always keeping track of my dad and my horses; and Joe is my dad and I’s chief financial officer. He does the payroll; he does all the bookkeeping.”

Jeremiah worked alongside his father from an early age.

“I used to–when I was six, seven years old–go in, put the food in the feed tubs, do the water buckets. I’ve always worked for my dad; I’ve worked probably about 20 years for him,” he recalled.

His mother, Sheila, ran the shedrow, and young Jeremiah shadowed his father.

“But I learned a lot from my dad as far as how he treated every horse individually and how he got to bring the best out of every horse, whether it’s how he trained it or how he took care of it and how he just looked after it in general,” he added.

Englehart graduated from Alfred State College with an associate’s degree in business marketing, then enrolled in Rochester Institute of Technology. The siren song of the racetrack, however, proved irresistible.

“I couldn’t stand being in an office, the office setting, and not being outside and with the horses,” he said. “So I look at what I do–it’s not really work. I enjoy going in; I’m not a real good early riser, but I’ve done it long enough where usually my personal clock wakes me up. I’m having fun doing what I do.”

He made his way back to the track by doing part-time work for his father again.

“Then my brother and I bought a horse and started doing well with the horses that we bought, so then I dropped out of school,” he said.

Chris Englehart didn’t discourage his son, reflecting, “I didn’t think about that and I probably should’ve, but I’m glad it worked out for him anyway.”

Englehart decided to expand his horseman’s education by working for several other leading Finger Lakes trainers, including Mike Ferraro, before a year-long stint as assistant to Ken McPeek. He made his first attempt to open his own shingle 15 years ago, reminiscing, “[When] I first started out on my own, I had one client in 2003, Tom O’Grady. We claimed a horse and I built up a small stable of maybe six, seven horses that just weren’t New York-quality horses and so that lasted probably about two years.”

O’Grady and Englehart later teamed up on 2015 Private Terms S. winner Bridget’s Big Luvy.

After his initial solo foray didn’t succeed, Englehart returned to home base.

“I went back to work for my dad at Finger Lakes just to try to get on my feet and get a better understanding of what I wanted,” he said. “I thought I’d work for him for a long time…[but] it was a lot easier for my dad if he set me up with a couple clients. Richard Nicolai was one of them and I had probably six horses at Finger Lakes. That was in 2007, I believe, and from there, that was when I really started. I’m like, this is what I really gotta do. This is going to be my livelihood; I’ve got to make this work. From there, with those six horses, we came in the next year–we had probably about 15 to 20, and then just grew from there.”

Of Jeremiah’s ups and downs, Chris Englehart said, “He’s a leader. I always knew that that [successful] day would come. It was frustrating for him because he was kind of in my shadow for a long time at Finger Lakes. I just kept telling him, ‘Don’t worry. Your day’s going to come.'”

Several years later, after building on his success at Finger Lakes, Englehart made the downstate trip to Belmont Park.

“In 2011, Elizabeth Dobles and I–she was my first New York assistant–I think we took four horses down to Belmont to stay full-time and I had a client [list, including] Richard Nicolai, Orlando DiRienzo, [which] was very instrumental in helping me get started,” he said. “And Neal Allread was another one that has been with me a long time, and they kind of got me going in New York.”

He continued, “Around 2013, I had maybe 15 to 20 horses at Belmont, and then we kept 50 to 60 at Finger Lakes, so it was starting to get to be a little bit of a bigger operation.”

His biggest win thus far came in 2013, when he trained Ria Antonia to a win via disqualification in the 2013 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, earning the 2-year-old filly divisional championship honors.

Englehart’s passion for the horse and open demeanor have earned him a list of devoted clients, both old and new. Currently, Englehart’s stable contains between 165 to 170 horses. At Belmont alone, he has 60 head, topped by the 75 he keeps at Finger Lakes. For Nicolai, Englehart sent out undefeated juvenile filly Sue’s Fortune, who took the Aug. 11 GII Adirondack S. at Saratoga. For Orlando DiRienzo and Southfield Farm, Englehart conditioned Indy’s Lady, a two-time stakes winner last year. He sent out Neal Allread’s 3-year-old filly Baby Boss to annex the April 21 New York Stallion S. at Aqueduct.

Englehart has adapted to meet the commercial needs of his clientele.

“Just recently–the last four years or so–we started really increasing [our presence at] the yearling and 2-year-old sales,” he said. “I did much more 2-year-old sales than yearling sales in the past, but this year we’re concentrating a little more on the yearlings. I get a lot of help from Travis Durr at Webb Carroll Training Center.”

In addition to helping select prospective purchases, Durr breaks 30 to 40 of Englehart’s young horses per year, while Jim Crupi of Crupi’s New Castle Farm breaks another 20.

Though he works primarily with Durr to select horses, Englehart collaborated with Phil Hager of Taproot Bloodstock to purchase a filly named Majestic Won. Now three years old, the daughter of Majestic Warrior races for August Dawn Farm, the homestead of legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells. “The Big Tuna” and Englehart most recently hit the winner’s circle with 2-year-old Forty Under, who captured the Sept. 29 GIII Pilgrim S. at Belmont Park.

Of his son’s success, Chris Englehart said proudly, “I knew a long time ago that that would happen to him. He’s always been just a really excellent horseman. He’s a lot smarter than I am. He is a winner and has always been that way since he was in high school and played sports.”

Amidst the highs and lows of stakes wins and injuries, Englehart manages to maintain an active home life with wife Robin and their family.

“I’m very lucky. My wife, she handles 99.9% of everything at the house,” he said admiringly.

This past year, the Engleharts moved to Saratoga–simplifying Jeremiah’s travel to both Belmont and Finger Lakes–full-time. “My business was taking more of a swing towards NYRA and I wanted to devote more of my time towards my NYRA horses,” he said.

Saratoga also offers excellent educational and recreational opportunities for his five children: daughter Raelyn, twins C.J. and Anna, and sons Eli and Jax. Unsurprisingly, the next generation of Engleharts–all under 10 years of age–is horse-crazy.

“They all love the horses,” he said. “They always want to go to the track, but it’s not easy sometimes.”

But unlike their dad as a youngster, the youngest Engleharts aren’t all that interested in training. “They all want to follow in José Ortiz’s footsteps,” Jeremiah said with a laugh. “They all want to be jockeys. But they’ll learn in a couple years, it’s just not in their genetics.”

When asked what learned from his father, Englehart replied, “Honesty. I think that was the first thing is that he told me: ‘Just be honest. You’ll learn in this game that there are a lot of people who aren’t. They might have success for a little bit, but everyone always ends up with someone they can trust.’ And I think that’s one reason why I’ve had clients stick with me for as long as they have and why I still attract some. Obviously, you’ve got to be able to know your animal, know each horse and how to put them in the rights spots, but really, honesty, I think, is the one thing that he kind of really hammered home to me.”

Added Chris Englehart, “There’s no question he’s playing with the top dogs now. It’s not a temporary thing with him and he’ll stay there. We’re very proud of him, both my wife and I are, and our whole family is.”

One recent loss epitomizes the father and son’s relationship. “If I have any questions about anything, I can call him and he’s been through it,” Jeremiah said. “He’s been through every situation in the game and this winter, I had a really tough break. I had a horse that Al Gold and I had in partnership, we owned 30% of. His name was Projector. We ran him at Gulfstream and he ran second. He gets beat a nose to one of Todd [Pletcher]’s really nice horses, and after the race, I got people calling to buy him for five, six, seven hundred thousand. Here’s my down payment on my house and then some. And a week after the race, we have to put him down because he got a bad infection in a hind leg and I remember calling my dad and telling him that ‘Man, this is tough.’ It was maybe two or three weeks later. I was over at his house and we were watching races one day and he’s like, ‘I’ve got to hand it to you. I’ve been through just about everything, growing up in the business, and that was about as bad as it could be, and you handled it.’ I just know anything can happen. They’re such fragile animals; they can get sick…you’ve got to be able to roll with the blows. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.”

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