horse trainer

Breen Celebrates Milestone

Trainer Kelly Breen celebrated a milestone Saturday at Monmouth, sending out his 900th winner when Act of Valor (American Freedom) won the day's sixth race. The 2-year-old maiden went off the 6-5 choice and was claimed out of the race by Anthony Margotta. A native of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Breen operated a small stable in the early 90s before going to work as Ben Perkins's assistant, and went back out on his own in 2003. He won the 2011 GI Belmont S. with Ruler on Ice. "It's a great...

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The California Series: John Shirreffs, Part Two

Great expectations don't necessarily begin with lofty intent. Most new licensees start out hungry for that one lionheart of any stripe to announce their arrival. Those trainers who are routinely sent the big weekend warriors learn to acquire a more refined palate, to remodulate their ambitions accordingly. But scant few are fortunate enough to have harnessed the sort of thunderbolt that doesn't just electrify a trainer's career but leaves a patch of scorched earth for posterity. And really, how many ever expect to? In part one, we deconstructed some of...

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'One of the Good Guys': Barry Abrams Dies at 66

A towering presence of California horse racing in both stature and sheer strength of character, trainer, owner and breeder Barry Abrams has died at the age of 66. "He really looked into the soul of a horse," said David Abrams, Barry Abrams's brother. "He had horses run that didn't run for anybody else." Abrams had battled throat cancer for more than 15 years. "He never once complained about what he was going through," said trainer Richard Baltas, Abrams's former assistant. "He helped people who were less fortunate than him and...

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Angel Montano, Longtime Kentucky Trainer, Dies on 80th Birthday

Angel O. Montano Sr., a longtime Kentucky-based trainer, died Oct. 1. The Churchill Downs publicity department confirmed the death, noting in a Twitter posting that his passing coincided with the date of his 80th birthday. Daily Racing Form reported the cause of death as numerous health issues complicated by a recent hospitalization for COVID-19. According to a 2010 profile in the Evansville Courier & Press, Montano arrived in Louisville at age 17, taking a three-day bus ride from his native Mexico City after his contract as a jockey was purchased...

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Not Even a Pandemic Can Push Rice Off Course

ELMONT, N.Y.--Linda Rice is as meticulous as they come in preparing her horses. The conditioner knows every detail about each and every horse in her care and maps out very specific plans for them. But, as organized as Rice is, she is equally as adaptable, as every horse trainer must be, and those qualities have served her well as she prepares Max Player (Honor Code) for a step up to the big leagues in an unconventional edition of the GI Belmont S. Saturday. Max Player's unique journey to the top...

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Contessa Quits Training

Longtime New York trainer Gary Contessa has announced he is ending his training career after 35 years. In a story originally reported by the Paulick Report, he cited the costs incurred by the Department of Labor investigation and his wife's ongoing illness as his reasons for hanging up his hat. Contessa is one of many trainers in New York to be investigated by the DOL over record-keeping and wages issues with backstretch employees. Several conditioners have already been hit with hefty fines by both the state and federal DOL. This...

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Letter to the Editor: A Woman Among Men

It was about 9:15 a.m. on a chilly day at Belmont and as I headed down the aisle towards the back door of Barn 44 for what felt like the 50th time since arriving at 5:15 a.m., a hot walker stopped me in my tracks saying with a laugh, "You two started neck and neck earlier, but now she has 10 lengths on you." The woman he was referring to was top trainer Linda Rice and he couldn't have summed her up much better. A client once compared Rice to...

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2020 Goals: Graham Motion

It's no secret that racing had a tough year in 2019. We asked a cross-section of participants what their number one goal is to make racing better in 2020. (Want to participate? Email [email protected]) In my opinion, the number one priority for racing to achieve in 2020 is to come up with some form of stronger leadership from within the sport. Clearly the idea of a commissioner is a pipe dream; to me the next best thing would be an advisory committee which would have the role of counsel for...

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