Editor’s note: While this is about relationships between Thoroughbred owners and trainers, the same is true for that owner/trainer relationship in other equine sports.
The 2021 Thoroughbred Owner Conference series reached the halfway mark with its fifth virtual session, which was held July 6 and featured the perspectives of leading owners and trainers. The conference series is hosted by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and presented by Bessemer Trust, Dean Dorton Equine, Stoll Keenon Ogden and Stonestreet Farm.
The session, “Owners & Trainers,” was sponsored by West Point Thoroughbreds, Taylor Made Farm and The Green Group. Moderated by Carolyn Conley, panelists included owners Len Green, D.J. Stable; Jack Knowlton, Sackatoga Stable; and Don Little Jr., Centennial Farms. They were joined by Mark Casse, who trains for D.J. Stable; Barclay Tagg, who trains for Sackatoga Stable; and Jimmy Jerkens, who trains for Centennial Farms.
Each member of the group discussed what makes a successful owner/trainer partnership and offered advice to new and prospective owners. Among the suggestions were to choose trainers who will make you a priority and know how to train the types of horses that you want to be racing, whether they are claiming horses or graded stakes horses.
“Try to find a trainer that you’re important to and has time to talk to you,” Green said. “Being honest…everyone takes that’s for granted, but it isn’t. You need to have common goals.”
“Horsemanship is a key element. I look for someone who doesn’t have such a big stable that you’re going to be lost,” Knowlton said.
The group also emphasized the importance of trainers who prioritize the welfare of the horses in their care, both on the racetrack and in terms of aftercare.
From the trainers’ perspective, the group expressed appreciation for their current owners. They echoed the owners’ sentiments of wanting honesty, integrity and trust as well as owners who encourage them to give horses time off when necessary.
“For the most part, I like giving horses a break. It’s something I like doing. You have to have owners who will let you do it,” said Casse.
Don Little pointed out that the racehorse ownership experience should be a positive one. “This is a fun investment. People need to look at this as entertainment.”
He also stressed the importance of aftercare.
“All owners should know that [aftercare] is part of your responsibility if you get in this business,” he said. “Don’t just get in to be an owner and win big races; you’ve got to be conscious about the end result for those horses that aren’t at the top level. It’s a priority.”
The sixth session of the series, “Jockeys,” will be held on Tuesday, August 3, at 2 p.m. ET. It is sponsored by Airdrie Stud, Starlight Racing and The Green Group. It will be moderated by former track announcer Tom Durkin, and panelists will include retired jockeys Donna Barton Brothers, Chris McCarron and Gary Stevens.
All sessions will be recorded and made available to registered guests. There is no registration fee for the live or recorded virtual conference series, but registration is required. For more information about the owner conference series, including the full schedule of panels and registration, please visit ownerview.com/event/conference or contact Gary Falter at [email protected].
OwnerView is a joint effort spearheaded by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association to encourage ownership of Thoroughbreds and provide accurate information on aspects of ownership such as trainers, public racing syndicates, the process of purchasing and owning a Thoroughbred, racehorse retirement, and owner licensing.
The need for a central resource to encourage Thoroughbred ownership was identified in the comprehensive economic study of the sport that was commissioned by The Jockey Club and conducted by McKinsey & Company in 2011. The OwnerView site was launched in May 2012.