Not many harness racing trainers can boast having their own stable at aged 20 - but Kyle Spagnola of Saratoga Springs in up-state New York can boast almost three years of conditioning. The former Ballston Spa High School student currently works a team of six in his home town.
“School and I never got on and at 17 I left and worked for my father. He’s had horses all of my life - and his father was also an owner. I went out on my own when I was 18,” Spagnola told Harnesslink.
Spagnola who is more than six foot tall and admits he’s too big to drive these days, is now into his third season of training - and is loving it. His father David has trained 1,128 winners ($4.7 million) since 1992 and has also driven seven winners.
Spagnola (Kyle) has saluted the judge just once in 33 race day drives but is determined to make a name for himself in training.
As of today (Wednesday September 14) Spagnola has conditioned 20 winners since 2009. All up he’s had 238 starters to races for 64 placings and $122,232 in purses.
This year he’s trained five winners but his goal was to finish 2011 with 15.
“I trained 12 last year and 15 would be nice. I think I’ll head to Pompano Park over the winter and hopefully come back home with some fresh stock,” Spagnola said.
Spagnola races his team mainly at Saratoga Raceway and occasionally at Vernon Downs or Yonkers. He said he would one day like to be a top American trainer and win both the Hambletonian and Meadowlands Pace.
“I think winning those two races is every trainer’s dream. I’m still only young and have got plenty of time to do it. I love this sport and will not lose focus of my goals,” Spagnola said.
He said he was fortunate that he was able to call on good horsemen like Stephane Bouchard, Jay Randall and Kim Crawford to drive his horses.
“We have some top drivers here in Saratoga and that’s why I’d rather let them do the steering. They know what they are doing and to be honest I have always enjoyed training more.
“I used to drive with Dad when I was very young and then jogged my first horse when I was about 10. It’s all stemmed from there.”
He said to make it in this game he had to take advice and open up his ears.
“There are so many professionals out there and at my age I have learnt to close my mouth and open my ears. You never stop learning in this industry. I’m always open to new ideas and sound advice,” Spagnola said.
He rated5-year-old gelding, Aka Oz, the best of his team at present.
“He’s won six races and paced a 1:55.1 mile. He won nicely at Saratoga on Sunday (see video). He’s no star. In fact I’ve got no stars, but potentially he’s the best I’ve got at present,” Spagnola said.
As for the biggest race he has won?
“Nothing major at this stage. My big win is still coming.”
Spagnola said he felt privileged to be able to have his own stable at such a young age.
“I’m very lucky to be living my dream job. I owe it all to my family. I was born amongst horses and I have always thought this is what I’m supposed to do. I also have good owners who support me – but there’s always room for more,” he said.
Spagnola said the most recent addition to his stable was a Bettor’s Delight yearling named Delightful Sin.
“I like working with young horses and don’t tend to keep my stock for too long. Delightful Sin is owned by my father and is out ofmare named Midnight Sin, who won one race.
“I like Bettor’s Delight’s. He’s already proven to be a nice producer,” said Spagnola.
The 20-year-old said he didn’t have many interests outside harness racing.
“This job keeps me very busy and at my age it’s all about laying a solid platform for later in life, Spagnola said.
By Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) The Kyle Spagnola trained and Stephane Bouchard Aka Oz winning at Saratoga Raceway last Sunday (September 11, 2011):
(2) The Kyle Spagnola trained and Vince Ginsburg driven Star Studded Gun winning at Saratoga Raceway last Sunday (September 11, 2011):
(3) Kyle Spagnola’s home town of Saratoga Springs: