FINDING A SUPER THOROUGHBRED HORSE TRAINER

When we claimed our first horse, we had a trainer who was recommended by a friend of my husband.  This trainer was great in helping me get acquainted with the horse racing game.  He was always available to me for questions and I visited his barn in the mornings to watch the horses gallop.  His barn was small so it was easy to visit without interfering with his morning routine.

In the spring of 2011, the trainer advised us that he was going to Texas that summer and didn’t think Tonight at Eleven was a good fit for that meet.  I was very concerned and knew that I needed to find another trainer.

Coincidentally, it was also the time that I was looking for an accountant who was familiar with the racing business to prepare our income tax returns.  A tax accountant named Alan Epstein, CPA (Tax Time Arizona) advertised his tax services in the Turf Paradise program.  Allan is not only a Certified Public Accountant, he is also an owner and breeder, which enhances his knowledge of tax law for horse owners.

As luck would have it, on the day I visited with the accountant, I saw racing photos in his office.  The photograph that caught my eye was of a horse bred and owned by Mr. Epstein named Saint Patrick’s Appeal.  At that time, Saint Patrick’s Appeal was racing at Turf Paradise and had been one of my winning bets!

Alan and I discussed horse racing.   I told him I needed to find another trainer.   Mr. Epstein recommended the trainer of Saint Patrick’s Appeal, Drew C. Fulmer.   All it took was a phone call from Alan and a meeting with Drew;  the rest is history.  Now, Drew is not only our trainer, he is also our partner.

Well, luck has a lot to do with horse racing and finding a great trainer like Drew Fulmer was really good luck.

If you are looking for a trainer, there are a lot of things to consider.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to find the right fit.  It can be a trial and error experience or you can get lucky like we did.

When considering a trainer, it is essential to consider his record.  This information is easily available either from the track or on-line at the track website or Equibase.

Honesty and integrity are qualities to consider in a trainer.  Your horses are in their charge and need to be protected.   The trainer may also act as your authorized agent, especially if your horses race out-of-town.   Horse racing is basically a cash business so it’s important to trust  your trainer.  These qualities can only be judged or proven over time.

Of equal importance is the trainer’s style and whether it suits your needs.  Many trainers race at more than one track and have large barns.  Often, these trainers are too busy to be easily accessible.  This may not be the best, especially for new or inexperienced owners.

Additionally, your horses should meet the quality of the horses with which the trainer is working.  If the trainer has stake or allowance horses, and your horse only qualifies for claiming races, your horse might not get the same attention.  Horse training is a business and the greatest profits for owners and trainers come from the size of the purse.  Stake and allowance purses are much higher, so those races are worth more to both owners and trainers.

Every trainer has a different personality.  Some of easy-going and others are more stringent.   Some trainers take an easy approach with the horses and other trainers might be downright mean.  Communications with the trainer about his style is important, however observation can be key to understanding the relationship between your horse and your trainer.  If possible, owners should take the time to observe the interaction between the horses and the trainer.  Body language is important to horses.  Although the trainer may be talking to the horse during the training process, horses can read body language more effectively.  A simple gesture or tender touch can have a lasting effect on your horse.  Trust your horse and watch his reaction to the trainer — you’d be surprised what this can reveal.

Also, some trainers depend greatly on veterinarians for day to day management of the horses.  Other more experienced trainers are able to handle routine preventive medicine for the horses.  Vet fees can be very high, so this can be a major factor in monthly expenses for the horse owner.

A trainer’s ability to judge the quality of horses is also very important.  If you plan to claim a horse, an experienced professional trainer knows what to look for and what to avoid.  Their professional opinion should always be considered before making a claim.

Now let me tell you a little about our premier trainer, Drew C. Fulmer.

Drew’s record speaks for itself.  He is a Multiple Stakes Winning Trainer.  He has been a trainer for more than 20 years and statistically is in the money (1st, 2nd or 3rd) 36% of the time.  He was also ranked among the top ten trainers at Turf Paradise (Sept 2012-May 2013).    Although he has trained Allowance and Stake winners, Drew’s bread and butter is the claiming game.

His honesty and integrity are beyond reproach.  This I have proven for myself over time.  Additionally, I have heard from others, including our accountant and the track bookkeeper who will gladly tell you that Drew is honest, straight forward and generally one of the good guys.

Drew Fulmer is a very easy-going, fun-loving fellow, but at the same time, is extremely attentive to the needs of the horses.  I have watched Drew with the horses and enjoyed seeing how the horses respond to him.  He may just gently touch the horse or call a horse by a pet name.  With great pleasure, I have seen the trust and love our horses have for this gentle giant of a trainer.

Drew does his best to keep the owners happy, but the horses always come first.  Although I might not always agree with our trainer,  I have come to appreciate his professionalism and genuine concern for our horses first and foremost.  So, he has the final say about our horses.   After all,  that’s his job!

I am happy to report that our first two horses have improved both in health and performance since we changed trainers.  I attribute their improvement  to Drew’s ability to not only keep our horses healthy, but also allow them to enjoy themselves in an environment where they feel safe and secure.

Because of his vast experience, Drew is able to manage the health and well-being of the horses with minimal veterinary assistance.  This is very cost effective.  If you visit his barn, you will find him checking the horses from top to bottom.  And when I say bottom, don’t be surprise to find him under one of these large animals.  In many ways, he is “old-school” when it comes to the health issues of  his equine charges.  Oh well, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

Being a good judge of horses is essential to a good claim, and Drew has proven his skills with some great claims which he made for us.  Among those claims were Katie’s Dan and Elusive Moment.  I promise future posts about those two fabulous horses.

winningtrainerOn a lighter note, here’s a hint for recognizing Drew Fulmer at Turf Paradise.  He definitely dresses for comfort.  You can see him everyday in denim shorts, a sporty T-shirt, baseball cap and sunglasses, plus a big smile, especially in the winners’ circle.

Here’s a picture of Drew being a “show-off” in the winners’ circle at Turf Paradise.

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