Day At The Track

Kerin Warner, trainer-now-teacher at Morrisville

06:20 AM 05 Feb 2019 NZDT
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Kerin Warner, harness racing Kerin Warner, harness racing
Kerin Warner
Photo courtesy Kerin Warner
Kerin Warner
Photo courtesy Kerin Warner

When Kerin Warner got a degree in history from Rutgers some two decades ago, he already knew his future was with harness racing horses and not students in a classroom.

The education he gained during the ensuing years, though, has now led the 45-year-old Warner to the role of teacher.

Warner is the new instructional support associate for the Standardbred program at SUNY Morrisville. The program emphasizes hands-on participation in the breaking, care, training, conditioning and racing of Standardbreds through requisite courses such as equine anatomy and physiology, stable management, breeding management, nutrition and training. Students receive an associate in applied science degree in equine racing management.

"I saw it as a great opportunity," said Warner, who shut down his stable in northern New Jersey to take the position at Morrisville, which is located 30 miles southeast of Syracuse. "I'm just going to take it and run with it. I'm going to try to make it big."

Warner, who grew up near Freehold, followed his father, trainer/driver Warren Gabettie, into harness racing. Warner considered going to veterinary school, but ended up helping with his father's stable after Gabettie became ill while Warner was at Texas A&M. Warner got a degree from Rutgers, but the horses would be his career.

"I never wanted to be a history teacher; I just finished up a degree," Warner said. "I knew I was going to be in the horse business when I figured out I wasn't going to be a veterinarian.

"I thought this was a cool opportunity. It's a great college. It's a big program, a big school. I grew up in this business. My father was a trainer, my uncle Bobby was a trainer. I think I owe it to give back. I'm trying the best I can right now."

Prior to joining Morrisville, Warner focused on breaking yearlings for other owners and trainers in addition to training a small stable, most notably the "Munn" horses of breeder/owner George Munniksma. Warner has won 350 races as a trainer and 24 as a driver.

Morrisville's equine center features the nation's only half-mile harness racing track on a college campus, as well as rehabilitation, breeding, and training centers.

Students work with assigned horses and, upon successful completion of the U.S. Trotting Association's driver/trainer test and other mandated requirements, can race those horses on the New York county fair circuit or amateur events at local pari-mutuel tracks.

The school also offers a bachelor of technology degree in equine science for students interested in continuing their studies.

"They have state-of-the-art facilities," Warner said. "It's a good opportunity for the kids; they learn a lot.

"I fell in love with the place the minute I was there."

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

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