Horse Racing Trainer Strategies

The role of the trainer in horse racing is often overshadowed by the owner, jockey and the horse itself. However, skilled trainers are widely respected within the horse racing scene and the very best can make long lasting and lucrative careers for themselves.

The trainer, with his staff of grooms and assistants, create and enact a rigid program of exercise, nutrition and day to day race preparation that culminates with the horse being as ready as possible on race day. Just as all horses are different, so are trainers, and most trainers have settled on their own distinctive training methods after many years of work in the field, often under renowned trainers. Trainers can be somewhat secretive of their techniques, though it is generally recognized that it is the application of the training technique that is just as important as the technique itself.

The very best trainers, when recognized for their prowess, are often inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

The American Racing Manual lists those thoroughbred trainers who have led all others in annual earnings since 1908, and the current leader is Darrell Wayne Lukas of Antigo, Wisconsin with an astonishing 14. Lukas trained Quarter Horses for a decade before finding his true calling as a thoroughbred trainer. Over a 20-year career beginning in 1978 and until his 1999 induction into the NMR Hall of Fame, Lukas trained horses who won 13 Triple Crown races and 18 Breeder’s Cup races. In a unique tribute to Lukas’ abilities as a championship trainer, he was awarded the prestigious Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer four times.

An accurate and intricate portrait of the trainer’s role in preparing horse racing champions can be seen in the highly regarded 2003 film, Seabiscuit. Chris Cooper plays Tom Smith, the man given much of the credit for making Seabiscuit into a memorable champion. The quiet, soft-spoken Smith always preferred to let his results speak for him, and over his stirling career he did just that.