Day At The Track

Driving School returns to Central Ohio

04:36 AM 15 Mar 2016 NZDT
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Jeff and Becky Cypher (left) Jeff Cypher
Jeff and Becky Cypher (left) get Hawker ready to jog with Christy Turner of the Mark Ford Stable during the 2015 Driving School.
USTA/Ken Weingartner photo
Jeff Cypher went from the 2015 United States Trotting Association Standardbred Driving School to the winner’s circle. Again and again and again. The 74-year-old Cypher, who lives in Michigan, decided to become a groom following last year’s school and with
USTA/Ken Weingartner photo

Jeff Cypher went from the 2015 United States Trotting Association Standardbred Driving School to the winner’s circle. Again and again and again. The 74-year-old Cypher, who lives in Michigan, decided to become a harness racing groom following last year’s school and with the assistance of USTA Director and Driving School mentor Steve Oldford landed with the stable of Kevin and Marie “Ginny” St. Charles.

Cypher was nothing more than a harness racing fan when he attended last year’s Driving School, but thanks to his experiences in the program was able to start jogging horses in the St. Charles Stable from Day One.

“What I learned at the school expanded into real-life experiences,” said Cypher, who received his trip to Driving School as a Christmas gift from his daughter Becky. “We had a great time at Driving School and I wanted to pick it up one more level. I don’t think I’m going to be a trainer, I’m getting too old for that stuff, but this keeps me out of trouble. I have 12 or 13 win photos from last year, so we’re doing all right.”

The 17th annual edition of the USTA Standardbred Driving School will be held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Delaware, Ohio, home of the Little Brown Jug, June 1-4. The school begins Wednesday evening (June 1) with a welcome reception/dinner and special keynote speaker.

Classroom and hands-on instruction will be conducted each day Thursday through Saturday.

In addition to offering basics for driving and training, the school’s curriculum has been expanded to include information on ownership of Standardbreds. Registered students will also receive a sales rebate offered by select Standardbred breeders/consignors redeemable upon transfer of ownership of the horse into their name. More details will be made available at a later date.

Join the fun and excitement in this one of a kind opportunity for educational and hands-on experience. Participants must be at least 16 years of age. There is a registration fee of $350. Students must provide their own transportation and lodging. Most meals are furnished.

Recent editions of the Driving School were conducted at Goshen Historic Track, Mark Ford Training Center, and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. The Cyphers spent their time at the school in the stable of Mark Ford and received instruction from caretaker Christy Turner.

Becky, who lives in the state of Washington, also got a groom’s license and helps her father when visiting Michigan.

“It’s nice to go to the track and work on the other side of it all; it’s kind of cool,” she said. “Dad just took off with it. They’ve been very good to him and he’s enjoying it.”

Added Jeff, “I would highly recommend to anyone to take the school. It really helped me. I found each place you go, everybody kind of has their own style, but we blended pretty well with Ginny and Kevin. I’m not getting paid, but I enjoy doing it. I’m keeping out of trouble.”

For more information about this year’s Driving School, or to enroll online, click here. Those interested in attending should not delay; enrollment is limited.

by Chip Hastings and Ken Weingartner, the United States Trotting Association

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