Casie Coleman -- It's all about team work!

03:02 PM 28 Mar 2014 NZDT
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Harness racing Casie Coleman, harness racing Casie Coleman, harness racing
Casie Coleman and her staff training the stable
Photo by Ann-Mari Daley
Casie Coleman with one of her many O'Brien Awards
Casie Coleman, David Miller and Betterthanceddar
It's all about team work. That's the feeling I get when listening to Casie Coleman describe the dedication of her harness racing employees.

Casie Coleman is one the most recognized names when it comes to trainers. There's no doubt that every time you see one of her horses listed to race, that horse is bringing its 'A' game, ready to contend.

Casie admits her success, aside from her work and the owners providing quality horses, is all due to her employees. Casie values everyone on her team as equals, people with heart and soul who dedicate their lives along side hers' to get the best out of the horses in the Coleman stable. Take the best race horse currently running and if it went without proper care and attention, guaranteed in a short period of time that horse's value will diminish alongside its health.

"Before I went on my own, I worked for a lot of people" Casie explains, "and I know what it's like when you work long hard days and you don't get paid so (well) or treated so (well)." It's due to the tough experiences Casie had to grind through for her to know how important it is to recognize the staff on her team.

"We work long hard days here, and I try to keep everyone happy... if you're miserable, then your horse is going to be miserable." Casie notes, "I knew when I started training I wanted the best help I could find. You need to pay them and take care of (the employees)."

"I have employees here who have been with me for the past 8 or 9 years. That being said, I've been through a whole lot of staff come through and work for me, and it's not saying they are not good; everybody is good in their own way. It's just the long hard hours we do and in my program some people aren't up for that."

110% is what Casie expects out of her staff but at the same time, Casie gives them 110% back in way of pay and recognition. "It's definitely not an easy job working for me, by no doubt but we have some good guys here."

So what did Casie go through or see to realize how valuable a trainer's staff is? "Whether its people I worked for or whether it be people that I watched working for another stable. Some of the things you see in the paddock, I say to myself 'I'll never treat my staff that way'." Casie continues the mentality should always be "treat people right".

With Casie having had a large or you could even say huge stable (over 100 horses), she's had to hire more help and become more of a trainer/barn manager. "If you're just a small stable, you're able to things yourself but when you get a big stable like I do, I am only as good as my staff. I can't manage all these horses by myself, no doubt."

Casie provides a great explanation of how intense it can be, especially in the summer time when racing is at peak season. "There's going to be good and bad days. Some of my staff start at 4-4:30 in the morning and a normal day we will get done around 2:30-3pm or some days it might be 4:30-5pm depending how busy we are. Then in the summer time, we race at night so we'll get a couple of hours to go home and shower then go racing and you might not get home until 1am. Then the next day you do it all over again, and you are only getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep."

So what happens when Casie and her team are having a rough day, Casie will throw a barn barbeque for the entire staff full of steaks and burgers. As I type this, I am getting hungry!

"Just last night" Casie says, "I had the whole staff over to my house for a steak barbeque and all the alcohol they wanted. We played poker, we were up late and had a busy day today and everything went good. Now I just ordered some pizza and pasta and they are all happy. Today was a long day, but they all know I am out here with them and know I'm feeding them. You got to keep them happy, keep the morale up."

As the interview was going on, Casie had to take a moment to sign for the pizza she ordered for her staff.

Growing up, it was a rough go for Casie and her family. She would work for her parents and go to school, money was tight. Back in British Columbia, Casie would find jobs wherever she could so she could get by. "Whenever somebody would buy you lunch or take you out for dinner, something like that to me was a huge thing because growing up we never had the money to go to these types of places. I realized how much I liked it when someone would take me to a steakhouse, I appreciated it."

Something Casie said really hit home for me, and it's how people change their perspective of a person once money is involved. The line Casie quoted was, 'if you are not doing well you're an idiot and if you're doing well, you are doing something wrong'. "You'll hear a lot of people say that I'm 'stuck up'." Casey says, "When I started doing well there were a lot of horsemen that didn't like me too much. Anybody who asks me something I will answer them, if they need something answered about their horse or anything, I try and help out."

"Now that I am fortunate to have luck in racing, I want to give back... any charity that asks me for help, I will help. It's just the way I was brought up, to help others when you can."

Since Casie has been quite successful, she has opted out of racing in claimers. Now Casie focuses on 2 and 3 year olds and older stake horses. "I was up to 120 horses a couple of years ago. Right now I have 38 here in Florida and I am much happier." Casie explains the relief with fewer horses is fewer owners, less staff and a lot less stress.

Now that Casie has fewer horses, she can purely focus on training horses as opposed to training and being a barn manager. Having a stable of 120 horses kept Casie busy with a ton of paperwork and constantly having her on the phone entering horses into various races. Casie's lightened office work allows her to enjoy jogging horses.

"I took the winter off from racing so I don't have to worry about entering anywhere. I got back into the bike and I really enjoy being back in the bike. I'm sad I got away from (being in the bike) and now I'm happy to be back."

Casie's plan for stake season definitely involves the Little Brown Jug! "I'd love to try a threepeat of the Little Brown Jug. I won two in a row and saying that I have a couple of really nice pacing 3 year old colts... whether they are going to be of that caliber I'm not sure about that. I think they are going to be nice Sired Stakes... and I have some really nice 3 year old pacing fillies that could be better than the colts."

"I would love to win the Canadian Pacing Derby at my home track, (Mohawk Racetrack located in Campbellvile, ON)." Casie says, "I have Vegas Vacation, Lucan Hanover and Michael Power entered into that race."

If Mark MacDonald decides to come back and race at Mohawk Racetrack, Casie definitely wants him to drive her horses. Casie first met Mark at Flamboro Downs, (Hamilton, ON) and it's been a great relationship ever since. The synergy between Mark and Casie is quite unique and if you remember when they were in action together, they seemed unstoppable. Casie acknowledges how important Mark's feedback is after every drive of her horses. Currently Mark is racing at Yonkers, (New York) and hasn't decided what his summer plans may be. If not Mark, Casie is still pondering which driver will lead her horses past the wire first.

A really neat event Casie would love to be a part of is the World Poker Tour. She enjoys playing poker with friends and kicking back to watch a movie. Casie's top 3 favorite movies is Rounders, Seabiscuit/Secretariat and 8 Seconds.

Casie loves going to Las Vegas. Her first Vegas experience was with her boyfriend, and one of her owners paid for her to stay at the Caesars because he thought she needed a break. Casie quickly realized what she was missing out on with her always being with her stable and now makes sure she takes time for herself and hitting Vegas at least once a year!

It's only fitting that one of Casie's top horses is Vegas Vacation!

by Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova
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