Day At The Track

Like Father Like Son; the Warren's

12:32 AM 18 Sep 2020 NZST
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Harness racing
Todd Warren (right) with son Ridge

It's common for several members of one family to work in the same industry. It's certainly not uncommon for members of one family to have the same job.

Even in sports-related fields, two or more members of a family can compete at different levels; play for different teams or have different jobs in the organization.

It is, however, far more uncommon for members of a family to compete against each other and even more unlikely for a son to be in direct competition to his father.

Enter the Warrens.

"My dad did it part time" said Todd Warren. "So, I grew up around it. My dad had horses with the Finns (family not nationality) and I grew up around them, when I was five or six. Then he got a couple of his own, and after he got off work at construction, we would take care of them. Then I got a job, when I was nine or 10, on weekends, for a trainer who had a big stable in Martinsville, Illinois. He would ship them down to the fairgrounds to spend the summer, maybe 20 or 25 of them. I stayed with him for about four year in the summers and then I actually got a matinee license, when I was 16. He started letting me drive his horses at the fairs a bit. One I got my drivers license, he'd ship me off to every fair in Illinois, with a six-horse gooseneck trailer. That's how I got going.

"My dad wanted to do it with me when I got older and he was retired but he was killed in an accident before that could happen in any big way. He did own a couple horses that I trained but never to the degree that we wanted to do it.

"So I went off on my own.

"Until I was in high school," said Ridge Warren, "I never showed interest in going to the barn. To me it was either go hang out with your friends or go to the barn and work. Everyone else was playing so I wanted to go do that. But, when he had 20 or 30 horses and he was shipping off to go somewhere, I had to go in and do stuff. I think it was when we went to Sports Creek Raceway and raced bikes together, just the two of us, that I realized it was a lot of fun. That's when I first got the driving bug. I was 16 years old, the first time I ever even sat in a race bike.

"It was like a spark clicked in him," Todd chimed in.

"From then on a showed more interest in going to the track and training and racing," continued Ridge.

"We had a lot of horses at the time. I moved back to Illinois when I turned 18, we had been living in Michigan but Dad was in Illinois after my parents got divorced, and got my qualifying license and slowly started driving.

Todd added to the story. "When I got married, I moved to Michigan and stayed there for 20 years. His mom and I kept the horses away from him and his sister. This wasn't the life we wanted for our kids. We wanted them to enjoy high school, go to college, get a career and so on. Ridge was a baseball player, football and basketball player in high school and my daughter was in softball and cheerleading. But, on their time off and on weekends we did need some help around the barn.

"My daughter had no interest in horses. She is an occupational therapist in Atlanta. She went to school." They both laughed.

For the record, through September 13, Todd Warren has driven in 33,198 races, winning 502 of them. He finished in the money another 8,499 times. His drives have earned $26,021,398. As a trainer, Mr. Warren's horses have earned $3,227,352, winning 962 times from 3,773 starts, with an additional 1,046 finishes in the money.

Ridge Warren has also had considerable success as both a driver and a trainer, though it appears that he has been inactive on the training side of things since 2013. His drives have earned $4,844,458, winning 759 times from 6,808 starts, with another 1,717 finishes in the money. As a trainer, Ridge sent 166 to the races, winning 35 times and finishing in the money another 49 and the horses earned over $108,000.

They both started to say that they didn't feel any special competitiveness when they were in a race together. Sure.

"When we first started racing together, I would try to watch for Ridge and see how he was doing," said Todd, "but often now I don't even know he's in the race. He's just another driver to me."

"It was a little different when we were racing at Maywood," continued Ridge. "With the smaller oval, there is a lot more passing throughout the race and we would often say something to each other when we were passing one another. And yeah, it's still fun to beat my dad. When I see him in front of me, there's nothing better than going around him and he's going to know it when I go by."

by Ron Uchman

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