It's been eight seasons since Ohio harness racing trainer Sam Coven last earned $100,000 in a season. The 41-year-old Lebanon horseman last month surpassed the six figure mark in what has been his best season financially for some time.
“I had more wins last year but we’ve been placing horses in the right races – so things have gone okay. It’s been a good year but I could always do with more owners,” Coven told Harnesslink.
Coven learnt the key ingredients of harness racing the hard way.
His late father Herb was a horseman and had a no frills approach to standardbreds. Hard work and discipline ruled at the Coven stable.
“I was hooked into harness racing the day I was born. Dad made me work growing up. Cleaning stalls wasn’t fun but I had to do it.
“It was tough back then but when I look back now it was the perfect grounding for both racing and life,” the Lebanon horseman said.
Today Coven is primarily a trainer who has won 360. But he has also driven 161 winners since 1984.
“I drove less when Dad died. That was in 1994 and I started to lose interest. That’s when I became more of a trainer than driver. I haven’t driven for a long time. I’m happy training and it’s good time to be an Ohio horseman.
“Slot machines are being introduced into tracks in Ohio. Coven lives 90 minutes from three tracks in Ohio and a couple hours of another couple in Indiana.
“I really feel sorry for people in Ontario where it is the opposite. The slots are important to livelihoods here and I’m fortunate that I’m Ohio born and bred and it’s all happening close by.
“The last two seasons have been good. I just want to keep improving as a trainer and lure more owners to the stable,” the Dayton native said.
Coven is married to Jennifer and they have two daughters – Sabrina (15) and Justine (5). They have 10 horses – seven of which are racing.
“I know I’ve got the grounding and experience to push on now, but you can’t do it without owners. My door is always open to new owners,” Coven said.
When Coven graduated from Lebanon High School he worked for his father.
He’s had some nice horses over the years including Compass Connection who went 1:53.3 as a 2-year-old.
“I get a great deal of satisfaction improving a horse when I get them. Broadway Momentum was a good example of that. I bought him fror $2,400 and he made $24,000 for us in quick time,” Coven said.
So what race would he like to win?
“I’m from Ohio. Every horseman here dreams of winning the Little Brown Jug.
“Other than that, I’d say the North America Cup. It’s worth a lot of money,” Coven said.
(1) Like most Ohio horseman, it is Sam Coven’s dream to win a Little Brown Jug:
(2) Sam Coven’s two favourite football teams do battle - Denver Broncos Down the Cincinnati Bengals:
(3) Sam Coven enjoyed the movie – Smokey And The Bandit:
By Duane RANGER (editor)