Fabio Arguello Jr. knew the ins and outs of race riding long before he began his career. His father, Fabio Arguello Sr., rode in Colombia and the United States for 25 years, ending his career in the 1980s. Arguello Jr. exercised horses for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. at Calder for five years before deciding to build his own career as a jockey. He began his apprentice year in 1990, riding at Calder, Tampa Bay Downs, the New York tracks, and Turfway Park. He concentrates now on the Kentucky circuit.
Arguello was the leading rider for three consecutive fall meets at Turfway beginning in 1991 and that year set a record that stood until 2003 for most wins in a holiday meet. He was the leading rider at Churchill Downs in the spring of 1992, a year in which he won 12 stakes at eight different tracks, including the G1 Kentucky Oaks aboard Luv Me Luv Me Not. The filly also gave him his first stakes win, the 1991 Gowell at Turfway. Among Arguello's other memorable mounts is multiple G1 winner Hollywood Wildcat, 1993's champion three-year-old female. Altogether he counts six graded wins among his 34 stakes victories.
Riding accidents in December 1994 and January 1995 and the deaths of his father and grandfather in 1995 kept Arguello out of racing for almost three years. He returned to riding in 1997. Through mid-August 2010, he had more than 1,163 wins and purse earnings of more than $21.5 million.
Named general manager in November 2012, Daniel "Chip" Bach joined Turfway Park in 1999 to inaugurate the position of director of human resources and safety and was promoted to director of operations in 2006.
One of his early contributions in his original role was development of Turfway Park's customer service program, the Turfway Service Challenge. During his tenure as director of operations he oversaw Turfway's accreditation by the NTRA's Safety and Integrity Alliance and developed the track's unique certified organic composting program.
A 1986 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, Bach first worked as a consultant for Digital Equipment Company in New Hampshire and rose quickly through the ranks to become an area manager for corporate security. He moved to ENTEX Information Systems in Mason, Ohio, in 1994 as director of corporate security. In 1996 he was invited to help develop and manage the company’s training division, and in 1998 his ENTEX team was recognized by Ohio Governor George Voinovich with the Ohio Workplace Excellence Award as one of the best training groups in the state.
Bach grew up in Woodford County, Kentucky. He and his wife, Kendra, live in Anderson Township, Ohio, with their twins, Nicholas and Emma.
Bill Connelly grew up among racehorses, learning the business from his father, trainer Robert Connelly. When Bill was 13, the family moved to Kentucky from Texas to focus on the Kentucky circuit.
Connelly worked primarily for his father before opening his own stable in 1980. He hit the 1,000-win milestone on July 17, 2009, at Ellis Park, a total that includes 27 career blacktype scores. Through August 2010, his trainees had earned more than $13.3 million.
Consistent with his longtime success at Turfway, Connelly finished fourth in both the 2009 Fall and 2010 Winter/Spring meets and fifth in the 2009 Holiday Meet. Among his wins at Turfway are the 1994 My Charmer Stakes, 1995 Likely Exchange Stakes, and 2010 Turfway Prevue Stakes. Notable among his recent trainees are Patchen Prince and The White Fox, both bred and raced by Patchen Wilkes Farm and registered as white Thoroughbreds by The Jockey Club.
Director of Sales & Marketing
Jack Gordon joined Turfway Park as director of sales and marketing in April 2005 after two years as corporate sales manager for Belterra Casino and Resort in Indiana. Before his tenure at Belterra he spent five years as convention sales manager for the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau and three years as sales department manager for Argosy Casino and Hotel. He is credentialed by the Convention Industry Council as a Certified Meeting Planner and is a board member and past president of the Ohio Chapter of Meeting Professionals International.
As director of sales and marketing, Gordon is responsible for partner/sponsor relationships, customer relationship marketing including FasTrack Rewards, group sales, promotions, and advertising.
A graduate of South Dakota State University, Gordon grew up in Rapid City. He lives in Florence with his wife, Laura, and two young children, Jackson and Abigail.
Alejandro Contreras had ridden horses for fun as a youngster in his native Mexico but had no thoughts of a career in racing until he came to the United States in 2000 with his father, who was looking for work. His dad returned home shortly thereafter, but Contreras stayed and at 16 began working at the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, first as a hotwalker and then as a groom. His career on the backside took him to the barns of Dale Romans, Steve Asmussen, and Greg Fox.
At the suggestion of a friend, Contreras started galloping in 2003, found he enjoyed it, and set his sights on being a jockey. He took out his jockey's license in August 2011 and had his first winner later that month. He finished third among riders for Turfway's 2011 fall meet as a seven-pound apprentice.
Director of Human Resources
Kim Day joined Turfway Park as the track's human resources generalist in 2000 and was promoted to director of human resources in 2006. A graduate of Thomas More College, she began her career in human resource management in 1993, working for Mazak Corporation and ZF Sachs, both in Florence, Kentucky, and Western-Southern Life in Cincinnati before coming to Turfway.
Active in her community, Day has served as a team captain for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Total Resource Campaign since 2001 and is a member of Turfway's team for the Chamber's BEST program, which partners area businesses with local schools. She also leads Turfway's United Way and Fine Arts Fund campaigns.
Day lives in Burlington, Kentucky, with her husband, Shawn.
When Ben Creed finished atop the standings for Turfway's 2009 Holiday Meet, he earned the distinction of being the first graduate of the North American Racing Academy (NARA) to win a leading rider title at any track.
After graduating from high school, Creed knew he wanted to go to college but wasn't sure what he wanted to study. He worked in construction a couple of years and then signed on with UPS at the Louisville airport, starting a still-undefined college career at Jefferson County Community College through the UPS Earn and Learn program.
Creed had no background in racing and had never considered it as a career. Before entering the academy, his only experience with horses was riding Quarter Horses around his grandparents' Spencer County cattle farm. Given his stature, though, people often told him he should ride races, so one day in 2006 he decided to Google a new jockey school he'd vaguely heard was supposed to open in Lexington. The search turned up NARA, founded by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron. Creed was accepted and graduated from NARA's two-year program in May 2009, a member of the academy's second graduating class.
Creed began riding at River Downs in late May 2009, landed a few mounts at Churchill Downs, and then went to Indiana Downs, where he won his first race. He moved on to Ellis Park that summer and to Turfway in the fall. He finished ninth among Turfway riders in the 2009 Fall Meet, won the Holiday Meet, and was fourth in the 2010 Winter/Spring Meet.
Through August 2010 Creed counted nearly 150 wins and $1.7 million in earnings. He has three stakes wins, the first coming in the 2009 Indiana Futurity at Hoosier Park and the next two, the Cincinnati Trophy and Wintergreen, coming at Turfway in early 2010.
Director of Communications
Sherry Pinson joined Turfway in 2003 as media relations coordinator and was named director of communications in 2006, expanding her role to include the track's social media outreach. A graduate of Anderson University in Indiana, she previously worked for music publishing, book publishing, and computer consulting firms in marketing, copywriting, and design roles. She established a freelance writing and editing business in 1998, serving regional, national, and international clients in a variety of industries.
Dale Romans grew up at Churchill Downs working for his father, the late trainer Jerry Romans. He took out his first trainer's license at age 18, a decade after he chose training as a career. Romans also worked briefly for Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens.
Romans' first win came at Turfway in 1987 with Miss Mindy, a filly he bought for $1,500. He also scored his first blacktype at Turfway, saddling Morning Punch in the 1991 Florence Stakes. He earned his first graded stakes in 1996 Fall Highweight Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct with Victor Avenue.
Romans has 18 stakes wins at Turfway, including the Kentucky Cup Classic (G2) with Roses in May in 2004. After finishing second in that year's Breeders' Cup Classic behind Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, Roses in May won the 2005 Dubai World Cup (G1). Romans also trained 2004 Eclipse Award turf champion Kitten's Joy, who that year piled up six stakes wins including two G1 races before running second to Better Talk Now in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1).
In addition to Roses in May, Romans' other Turfway stakes winners include Half Heaven, who won four Turfway stakes in one year, December 2006 to December 2007, and Vow to Wager, winner of the 2010 John Battaglia Memorial.
Romans owns one Turfway training title, a three-way tie with Bernie Flint and Greg Foley in the 2003 Holiday Meet. He also holds titles from Keeneland and Churchill Downs; at the latter he was second behind Steve Asmussen for the 2009 fall meet and the 2010 spring meet.
Among Romans' current or recent standout trainees are G1 winners Paddy O'Prado, Swift Temper, and Thorn Song; multiple G1-placed First Dude; multiple graded winners Quiet Temper and Sassy Image; and 2009 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Tapitsfly. Paddy O'Prado and First Dude are on target to contend in the 2010 Breeders' Cup.
Through mid-October 2010, Romans had nearly 1,400 wins, among them 137 stakes including 54 graded events, and purse earnings of $60.5 million.
Romans, who trained 2006 Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Sharp Humor, was one of six trainers whose paths to that year's Derby were chronicled in the documentary The First Saturday in May.
Director of Racing/Racing Secretary
Promoted to director of racing and racing secretary in 2013, Tyler Picklesimer was hired by Turfway in 1994 as a placing judge and from 2002 served as the track's assistant racing secretary. He has additionally served Turfway as an alternate association steward, clocker, and paddock judge.
Picklesimer also is an association steward at Ellis Park and has served in the same capacity at Keeneland and The Red Mile. He continues to fill various roles at Keeneland and at Churchill Downs, including alternate association steward, paddock judge, placing judge, and stakes coordinator.
Since 2008 Picklesimer has also been the director of racing and racing secretary for the Thoroughbred meet at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va. He also serves on various committees of the Virginia Racing Commission.
From 1997 to 2000 he worked as the horse identifier at River Downs and since 1998 has been a tattoo technician for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. Since 2010 he has served on the Horse Identification and Microchip Committee of the North American Racing Secretaries Association.
Overlapping the early years of his career in racing, Picklesimer previously was director of security and ushers at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati.
The son of Kentucky trainer Thomas Drury Sr., Tom Drury Jr. grew up around racing. He wanted to be a jockey but when he realized he would grow too big, he set his sights on becoming a trainer instead. In addition to the knowledge he gained from his father, the younger Drury galloped horses for Frank Brothers and worked on Brothers's farm.
Drury took out his trainer’s license in Kentucky at age 18, and at the time was the youngest licensed trainer in the state. He keeps 30 to 40 horses in training and is based at Skylight Training Center in Goshen, Kentucky. Drury trains primarily for clients, though he does own a small part of a few horses. He generally stays close to the Kentucky circuit, with forays to River Downs in Ohio and the Indiana tracks, and ships elsewhere for stakes. He particularly credits clients Dr. David Richardson and Betsy Lavin as major influences as he has built his career. "I'm glad to have reached a point in my career where people are interested in what I'm doing," he said.
Among memorable horses Drury has worked with are Grade 1 winner and millionaire Madcap Escapade, trained by Brothers; Drury's own trainee Junior College, a multiple stakes winner; and his current star Timeless Fashion, who has five stakes wins for clients R-Cher Family Farms and Judy Miller, including three at Turfway: the 2009 Dust Commander and Prairie Bayou and the 2010 Tejano Run.
Drury tied for third among Turfway trainers during the 2009 Holiday Meet with 6 wins from 15 starters, a 40 percent win percentage and seventh among trainers during the 2010 Winter/Spring Meet with 8 wins, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds from just 29 starters.
Russell County, Kentucky
Larry Holt grew up riding horses, including some his uncle raced on the fair circuit. He had ambitions to become a jockey—Eddie Arcaro and Willie Shoemaker were his heroes—but he literally outgrew that dream and in 1972 took out his trainer's license. He never worked for anyone else but instead added a horse here and there on his own, starting with his uncle's string. His first win came in 1973 with a horse owned by his father-in-law. He earned his first stakes with Cattle Kate in the 1976 Banquet Bell Stakes at Thistledown. Among Holt's top horses have been Lackadaisical Lady, a filly that earned more than $100,000 "the hard way," and the stakes-winning filly Demitryst.
Today Holt maintains a mostly public stable and races primarily in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. He operates his own training center, Holt Stables in Russell County, Kentucky, where he also breaks his own and clients' yearlings.
As proud as he is of his horses, Holt is equally proud of his assistants who have gone on to successful careers of their own, including Joe Cain, Vince White, and Kevin Fletcher.
Through August 2010, Holt counts $5.3 million in purse earnings and more than 660 wins, including three stakes.
Garden City, Michigan
Mike Maker first learned the art and science of training from his father, George Maker, who trained at Detroit Race Course and Hazel Park in Michigan. He bought his first horse at age 13 with money he earned walking hots for his dad and delivering newspapers, and the horse won the first time he raced. The younger Maker eventually was his dad's assistant before going out on his own in 1991.
In 1993 Maker landed a job with trainer D. Wayne Lukas, working with the stable's string at Churchill Downs under Dallas Stewart, then an assistant to Lukas. When Stewart went out on his own in 1997, Maker took over as head of the Louisville operation. He left the Lukas stable in 2003 to again open his own stable. Maker's first "big horse" was Freefourinternet, who won the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) in 2004 to give the trainer his first graded win and his first Breeders' Cup Classic competitor.
After a few more solid years, Maker found breakout success beginning in 2008. From September 2008 to April 2009, he swept all three meets that comprise Turfway's racing year, giving him four consecutive leading trainer titles at the track. In the fall of 2008 he earned his first Keeneland title and amassed 31 wins at Churchill Downs to not only earn his first title there but also break the fall meet record, crushing the previous mark of 20. His success has been powered in large measure by the prolific stable of Ken and Sarah Ramsey, his primary clients.
In 2009, Maker won the Kentucky Cup Classic (G2) at Turfway with the Ramseys' Furthest Land, who went on that year to give trainer and owners their first Breeders' Cup win, the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita.
Maker's success continued in 2010, with his second Lane's End Stakes (G2) at Turfway with Dean's Kitten, the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland with Stately Victor, the Claiming Crown Jewel with Headache, and the Claiming Crown Emerald with Inca King.
Maker finished second in Turfway's trainer standings in the 2009 Fall and Holiday meets and the 2010 Winter/Spring Meet, posting respective win ratios of 48 percent, 25 percent, and 31 percent. Through September 2010, he counted more than 600 wins, including 37 stakes, and purse earnings of $15.8 million. Counting the aforementioned 2009 Kentucky Cup Classic and 2010 Lane's End, Maker has 11 stakes wins at Turfway, including the 2006 Lane’s End with With a City.
Website: Mike Maker Racing Stables
Dawn Martin got her start in racing in 1980 when she rode Quarter Horse races in Brazoria, Texas. She took out her Thoroughbred trainer's license in 2000 after learning the game from trainers Don Kerrone and Gerry Hammond. Martin is based at Fairmount Park, where she keeps 50 horses in training on average, about 75 percent of them her own. Martin's son, Chase Carter, is her assistant trainer. Major clients include Dennis Behrmann.
Among memorable horses she had a hand in training are multiple Grade 1 winner Benny the Bull and multiple stakes winner Cobra Lady.
Martin enters her runners primarily at Turfway, Ellis, Hawthorne, Fairmount, and the Indiana tracks. She tied for fourth among Turfway trainers in the 2010 Winter/Spring Meet and was among the meet's leading owners, campaigning alone and in partnership with Behrman.
Martin's career path veered from racing for about 15 years, when she worked in construction engineering and project management.
The son of former jockey David McKee, John McKee grew up in Hamersville, Ohio, a hamlet east of Cincinnati. He began riding in 2002 at River Downs and finished the meet as leading rider, in the process breaking Steve Cauthen's 1976 track record for most wins by an apprentice. He next moved to Kentucky, where in the fall he was Turfway's leading rider and second among riders at Churchill Downs. McKee finished 2002 as a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the year's outstanding apprentice. In 2004 he added leading rider titles at Oaklawn and the Churchill Downs fall meet.
Returning to Turfway, McKee was leading rider for the 2007 Holiday Meet and on March 30, 2008, posted his 1,000th career win. Through mid-August 2010 he had 54 stakes victories and purse earnings of more than $30 million. He earned the first of his 11 graded stakes wins in the 2003 Firecracker Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs.
Among standouts who won graded stakes with McKee in the irons are Greater Good (2004 Kentucky Cup Juvenile, 2004 Kentucky Jockey Club, and 2005 Rebel); Grand Reward (2005 Oaklawn Handicap); Lawyer Ron (2006 Risen Star, 2006 Rebel, and 2006 Arkansas Derby); and Lady Joanne (2006 Golden Rod).
Besides the 2004 Kentucky Cup Juvenile, McKee has nine other Turfway stakes wins: the 2004 Kentucky Cup Sprint and 2005 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies; the Marfa in 2005 and 2006, the 2006 Holiday Inaugural, the 2009 Gowell, and the 2010 Likely Exchange, Battaglia Memorial, and Queen.
McKee was sidelined in May 2010 when he broke both bones in his lower left leg in a spill at Indiana Downs. He returned to race riding the last three days of the 2010 Ellis Park meet.
Fort Chaffee, Arkansas
Kenny McPeek grew up in Lexington, where he played football for Tates Creek High School and in 1984 earned a B.A. in business finance from the University of Kentucky. But racing was his first love, and although he interviewed for a position as a stockbroker after graduation, he decided on a different job—hotwalker for trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey. McPeek opened a public stable in 1985, with his father, owner/breeder Ron McPeek, as his main client.
A later client, Roy Monroe, father of a Tates Creek teammate, changed the game for McPeek. McPeek has always demonstrated an eye for bloodstock, and Monroe gave him his first chance to upgrade his stable. His first "big horse" was Tejano Run, a $20,000 purchase for Monroe who earned more than $1.1 million on the track. In 1994, Tejano Run won Turfway's Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3) and ran third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) before finishing second in the 1995 Kentucky Derby (G1). In 1997 he won the Turfway Park Fall Championship (G3) and today is honored by a Turfway stakes bearing his name.
Other astute selections include Repent, Take Charge Lady, and She's A Devil Due. Bought for $230,000, Repent earned $1.2 million in two years of racing, winning four graded stakes including the 2001 Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3). Take Charge Lady, purchased for $175,000, was a multiple G1 winner who earned more than $2.4 million on the track. G2 winner She's A Devil Due, a $30,000 purchase, earned $533,820 in her two-year career.
In June 2005 McPeek began turning over his 160-horse stable to his assistants to concentrate on work as a bloodstock agent. During that nearly year-long sabbatical, he signed the $57,000 ticket for Midnight Cry Stable's Curlin, then a yearling. Racing at ages 3 and 4, Curlin now holds the record for most career earnings—more than $10.5 million—and was twice Horse of the Year.
McPeek returned to training in mid-2006 with 70 horses. He and his wife, Sue, purchased the 115-acre Pillar Stud in Lexington, renaming it Magdalena, and began training from the farm, an idea sparked when he took Brazilian-bred Hard Buck to Ascot in 2004 and saw the advantage of having European-style gallops and turnout paddocks available for daily use.
Through August 2010 McPeek counted more than 1,100 career wins, among them 107 stakes including 45 graded events, and purse earnings of nearly $45 million. McPeek earned his first graded win in the 1994 G2 Beaumont with Her Temper and his first G1 win in the 2002 Florida Derby with Harlan's Holiday. He also earned his first Classic win in 2002, the Belmont Stakes with 70-1 Sarava. More recent stakes winners include G1 winners Noble's Promise and Dream Empress and graded winners Orchestrator, Striking Dancer, Bridgetown, Bold Start, and War Kill. He has seven stakes wins at Turfway, most recently the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) with Orchestrator and the Fairway Fun with My Baby Baby, both in 2010.
Carolina, Puerto Rico
For Orlando Mojica, race riding is family business. His father, Rafael Mojica Sr., is a retired jockey, and his brother, Rafael Jr., rode the New York-New Jersey circuit before moving his tack to Kentucky. Orlando came to the United States in 2000, riding at Garden State Park. When he rode his first winner, half of a coupled entry, his brother was aboard the other half—-and came in second.
Mojica moved to the Kentucky circuit in March 2001 and finished second in Turfway's Fall Meet while still an apprentice. He earned his first stakes win and his first meet title, tying Sidney LeJeune, at Indiana Downs in 2003. He claimed the title outright at Hoosier Park that same year. Consistently successful throughout his career, Mojica won the Ellis Park title in 2007, Hoosier Park titles in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and the Indiana Downs title in 2008.
Through mid-August 2010, Mojica had more than 1,500 career victories and purse earnings of $21.6 million. In the preceding 12 months he earned nine stakes wins, bringing his total to 34. Among them are nine at Turfway, including the 2008 John Battaglia Memorial aboard Absolutely Cindy, the only filly ever to win that race, and the 2009 Bourbonette Oaks (G3) with Hot Cha Cha, the jockey's first graded win.
A 37-year veteran rider, Perry Ouzts earned his 5,000th career win on August 21, 2007, aboard Kandinsky at River Downs. Only 21 other jockeys in history had reached that milestone at the time, and the chance to join their elite company drew Ouzts back to racing after an on-track accident in January 2006 sidelined him for 11 months, the longest and most grueling interruption of his career. Ouzts's inspiring comeback was highlighted by the biggest win of his career, the 2007 Miller Lite Cradle Stakes at River Downs aboard Old Man Buck.
Ouzts earned his 5,500th career win on September 23, 2010, when he rode Holiday Tap to a neck victory in Turfway's eighth race. Through October 21, 2010, he ranked 18th among North America's all-time leading riders by wins with 5,532.
Ouzts grew up in Rivervale, Arkansas, riding horses with his cousin, Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires. He began his career at Beulah Park in 1973 and has been a consistent leader on the Ohio circuit ever since, holding a record 24 meet titles from River Downs and at least 11 at Beulah Park. Ouzts names the racemare Hy Carol as his favorite mount of all time; the two won nine stakes races together from 1976 to 1978. Another memorable win was the inaugural running of the Mike Rowland Memorial Handicap at Thistledown in 2004. The race is named for Ouzts's fellow jockey and long-time friend who died from injuries sustained during a race at Turfway in February 2004.
After finishing sixth among Turfway's riders in the 2007 Fall Meet, Ouzts sat out again for more surgery related to the 2006 accident. He returned to riding in April 2008 at River Downs. In 2009 and 2010 he won both of River's two summertime meets.
David Pate earned his insights into training from a lifetime of working with horses, from workhorses on his family’s 36,000-acre Georgia farm to racehorses he rode as a jockey.
Pate left the family farm at 19 to join his older brother at Ocala Stud in Florida, when the now-thriving racing center had just a few operations. He started as a hotwalker but had his eye on riding, and in 1968 at age 25 made his debut as a jockey.
Difficulty maintaining weight limited his career to three or four years but the experience opened the next door. "Once I started riding, I knew I wanted to train," he said. "I learned something from every trainer I ever rode for." Pate credits that time with giving him insight into what can happen to horses during a race. "I'm not so quick to blame the jockey when things don't go right," he said.
In 1972 Pate opened a small training stable at Tampa and later moved to Latonia, now Turfway. He closed the stable after about six years and signed on as assistant to Marvin Moncrief in Maryland. The time with Moncrief's 50-horse stable and the chance to make industry connections gave Pate the foundation he needed, and in 1988 he returned to Florida to open a stable with about 25 horses. Looking for options for the varying talents in his barn, he moved to the Ohio/Kentucky circuits, where he was leading trainer at River Downs in his first meet and a regular at Churchill Downs and Latonia.
Based year-round at Turfway, Pate selects horses and trains primarily for James Skaggs's Spade Stable. He also trains horses he buys for his wife, Peggy, whose horsemanship he calls equal to his own. Pate's operation is family-run and he proudly notes that three of his employees have been with him for 20 years.
Among Pate's memorable horses is his first stakes winner, Lawful Beat, a filly he bought with a partner for $4,700 and later sold for $125,000. His eight stakes wins include three at Turfway, mostly recently the 2010 Cincinnati Trophy with Cactus Cadillac, and he has one graded win, the 2005 Bashford Manor (G3). Through August 2010, Pate counted 540 career wins and $5.3 million in purse earnings.
Marcelino Pedroza Jr. grew up around racing and dreamed from a young age of being a jockey. He had his picture taken in the winner's circle for the first time when he was just five months old. His father, retired jockey Marcelino Pedroza Sr., was aboard the winner. His uncle Martin Pedroza and his cousin Brian Pedroza are also both jockeys.
Marcelino Pedroza Jr. graduated from Panama's jockey school in 2009 and won his first race on Christmas Day that year at the age of 16. He came to the United States on September 20, 2010, and began working horses at Keeneland for Larry Demeritte and Wesley Ward. Ward gave him his first U.S. mount on October 8.
Pedroza moved his tack to Turfway and at the age of 17 won his first career riding title, taking the 2010 Holiday Meet with 21 wins.
Pedroza's momentum was interrupted twice in 2011. First, a gate accident at Turfway in late January left him with a hairline fracture of his right knee. After recovering at home in Panama, he returned to the U.S. in April to ride the final days of the Keeneland spring meet. Then he was sidelined again in June by a small fracture to his right tibia, sustained when a mount at Churchill stumbled out of the gate and dropped him to the track. He returned to ride at Ellis Park later that summer.
Phil Sims grew up on a Kentucky farm and was always around horses, and he has never looked for any other career. He took out his trainer's license in 1980 and still has a farm in Scott County, Kentucky, where he raises cattle and hay.
Based at Keeneland, Sims keeps about 25 horses in training, some his own and some for clients. He races primarily in the Midwest and occasionally ships to East Coast tracks. His son, Matthew, is his assistant.
In 2009, the outstanding filly Hot Cha Cha gave Sims his first graded win, the G3 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway, and his first G1 win, the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. The filly also won the 2009 Pucker Up at Arlington and the 2010 Mint Julep at Churchill Downs, both G3. Through mid-October 2010 Hot Cha Cha scored 6 wins from 18 starts, has missed the board only four times, earned $938,552 in two years of racing, and is on target for the 2010 Breeders' Cup.
Through August 2010, Sims had more than 300 wins, including 15 stakes, and purse earnings of $6.4 million. In addition to Hot Cha Cha's Bourbonette Oaks victory, his stakes wins at Turfway include the 1990 Wintergreen and My Charmer (Anitas Surprise), the 1999 Valdale (Blarin Speed), and the 2007 WEBN (Joe Got Even).
Tom Pompell got his first taste of riding growing up on the Illinois farm where his maternal grandfather, Gerald DeLong, worked for Lee Hooker as trainer and farm manager. "My grandfather had been a jockey and two of my uncles (Gary DeLong, later a trainer, and Terry DeLong) were jockeys, and they would throw me up on anything," said Pompell. "I didn't think about being a rider then. I was just a little kid, and I was a little scared of the horses." Pompell's father, Bobby, also was a jockey.
In the early 1990s Pompell moved to Kentucky to rub horses for Angel Montano Sr. at Ellis Park, and he set his sights on riding. On a visit home he spoke with trainer Eddie Essenpreis and agreed to groom for Essenpreis at Fairmount Park if the trainer would teach him to ride. Pompell spent a year riding at Essenpreis's farm and in 1996 started galloping at Fairmount. When Essenpreis learned Pompell had begun riding races at fairs, he offered to name him on horses. Pompell took out his license in September 1996 and won with his very first mount at a pari-mutuel track.
The next year Pompell was Hoosier Park's leading apprentice. He rode seven winners in one day at Fairmount, where he was leading rider in both 1998 and 2000. In 2001 he moved to Tampa Bay Downs and eventually rode first call for trainer Don Rice. When Rice retired in 2007, Pompell and his wife, Lesalene, a trainer, bought an Indiana farm convenient to the Indiana and Kentucky tracks. He was the leading rider at Hoosier in 2006 and at Turfway for the 2008 Holiday Meet.
Through mid-August 2010 Pompell had more than 2,000 wins and purse earnings of more than $21 million. Among his 36 stakes wins are six at Turfway: the 2008 Valdale, Cincinnati Trophy, and Queen and the 2010 Turfway Prevue, WEBN, and Dust Commander.
Rodney Prescott grew up around horses and as a youngster competed in barrel races, chariot races, and pole bending contests. After graduating from high school, he was introduced to racing when Quarter Horse rider Carter Rilie showed him around bush tracks in Illinois and helped him land his first job galloping horses.
Prescott first worked with Thoroughbreds at River Downs as a groom for the late Barbara Holbrook, for whom he rode his first mount and, a month later, his first winner. Prescott was leading apprentice at River Downs in 1994 and was honored with the Rodney Dickens Award, presented by the River Downs jockey colony to the rider who shows outstanding sportsmanship and ability during his first season.
Prescott has found consistent success in Ohio, Kentucky, and particularly in his native Indiana, where he has been leading rider twice at Indiana Downs and once at Hoosier Park. He has one leading rider title at Turfway, for the 2002 Holiday Meet, and was second among all North American jockeys by wins in 2005. Through mid-August 2010, Prescott had more than 2,680 wins, nearly $29 million in purse earnings, and 38 stakes wins, including Turfway's Wishing Well (2002 and 2010), Gowell (2005), Hansel (2005), Forego (2005 and 2009), Tejano Run (2007), Magic City Classic (2007), and Battaglia Memorial (2009).
Eric Reed grew up on the Keeneland backside knowing he would train racehorses. The son of trainer Herbert Reed, he took summer and night classes to graduate from high school a year early. At 16 and 17 he worked summers and after school for his dad and trainers Mac Miller and Ray Lawrence. The first available testing day after his 18th birthday, Reed took out his trainer's license. He immediately opened his own stable with six horses, four from clients and two he bought himself.
Though Reed easily recalls his first winner, she does not appear in his record. Eager to get started, he was still three months too young to be licensed when Natural Split won a maiden special at River Downs. The mare ran in another trainer's name.
Reed is known for his work with juveniles, insight gained from his dad. While the elder Reed trained eight or 10 horses to race for local owners, he usually had three times as many for his main business, breaking yearlings and preparing two-year-olds.
Through August 1010, Reed's trainees have earned nearly $10.4 million. He counts 17 stakes wins, including his first graded event, the 2009 Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland with Satans Quick Chick. The tally also includes seven at Turfway, including his first, the 1986 Forego, when the track was called Latonia. Reed's most recent Turfway stakes came in the 2010 Wintergreen with Rinterval. The excellent Irish-bred mare subsequently finished second to 2009 champion female sprinter Informed Decision, beaten a head, in the 2010 Chicago Handicap (G3) and second to 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Zenyatta, beaten a neck, in the 2010 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar.
When he was in the seventh grade, Nick Rennekamp watched the Kentucky Derby on television and decided he wanted to work with racehorses when he grew up. He took out a trainer's license when he was 19, but instead of training horses to race, he trained horses to play polo. His work in racing started about the same time, when he worked at Rosalie Plantation in Louisiana to break yearlings and prepare horses for the two-year-old sales.
Rennekamp began entering horses to race in 2001, generally following the Kentucky circuit but also now competing for the higher purses offered in Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. He and his wife keep about 15 horses to race, some their own and some for clients, training off their farm in LaGrange, Kentucky, and at High Point Training Center.
Rennekamp also keeps 30 to 40 horses in training for polo. He plays the game himself, and his first winner at the racetrack, Christmas Verse, became one of his polo ponies. "I think people underestimate what horses can do after their racing careers are over. I think I've turned around horses that were really in trouble," he said, citing his ability to identify horses that have a high aptitude for learning to play polo.
Rennekamp ranked among the top 10 trainers at Turfway during the 2009 Fall and Holiday meets, and during the Holiday Meet was also among the track's leading owners.
Joe Woodard grew up in Louisville and started his career in racing walking hots at Churchill Downs while still in high school. After graduation he studied Criminal Justice at the University of Louisville, and together he and a few friends purchased some claiming horses. In 1992 he took out his trainer's license, training during the day while working in law enforcement at night. In 1993 he began training for other clients as well.
Woodard's career expanded in 1997 when he was hired as the private trainer for Louisville auto dealer Billy Hays, whose interest lay in claiming horses with room for improvement. The highly successful relationship continues, although in 2004 Woodard opened his stable to horses from other owners. In 2005, Woodard won a record 10 consecutive races at Churchill Downs, shattering the old track mark of six. Most of the winners were owned by Hays.
Woodard swept the Turfway Park trainer standings the past racing year, winning the 2009 Fall and Holiday meets and the 2010 Winter/Spring Meet. He also won the 2010 Beulah Park meet and has seven leading trainer titles from River Downs, most recently both 2010 meets.
Among recent Woodard standouts is the Hays-owned gelding Blue Cherries Spin, who won seven of 12 starts in 2009 and posted an 83 percent in-the-money performance for the year.
Racing primarily in the Midwest, through August 2010 Woodard had nearly 800 wins and more than $7.8 million in purse earnings. Of his six stakes wins, three have come at Turfway: the 2001 Marfa, 2002 Cincinnati Trophy, and 2010 Forego, all for Hays.
Website: Woodard Racing Stables
Yuri Yaranga didn't grow up on the backside but he did grow up at the track—his father was a dedicated handicapper. At age 15 Yaranga enrolled in the jockey school at the Jockey Club of Peru and at 17 earned his apprentice license. He rode throughout South America for the next dozen years, including in Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, and scored an international win in Chile in 1987.
Yaranga hung up his tack in 1990 and trained horses in Peru for 10 years. In 2000 he began to work toward immigrating to the United States, and he started galloping horses to get back to riding weight and fitness. He came to the U.S. in 2003 at the invitation of trainer Jorge Gomez, and rode first at Gulfstream and Calder. He began traveling Midwest circuits in 2004. Yaranga holds leading rider titles at Fonner Park and Lincoln Race Course and was Beulah Park's leader in 2010.
Through mid-August 2010, Yaranga has more than 1,200 U.S. wins, including two stakes, and earnings of more than $6.8 million. He became an American citizen in April 2010.