Day At The Track

More and more trainers becoming owners

12:05 AM 17 Jan 2015 NZDT
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Perry Smith, harness racing
Perry Smith, owner and trainer
David Baum Photo

As the leading trainer on the circuit in 2014, like many of his colleagues, Perry Smith has had to become more than just a conditioner of horses in his endeavor to make a living in Illinois.

“I’ve had to claim my own horses to try and go on in this business,” said the 63-year-old veteran trainer who had more winning horses (117) in last year’s combined Balmoral and Maywood trainer standings.

“Looking for horses to claim for myself is what need to do for now days to keep going.

“With the price of everything now days the profit margin of just training a horse for somebody on the Chicago circuit just isn’t there. Let’s face it those days in Illinois for trainers are over. For me to go on the best I can and try to make a profit as a trainer I’ve gone to claiming more horses for myself or with another owner.

“I’m just trying to get by the best way I can and right now that looks like the best way for a (Illinois) trainer. All I can do is hope that things in Illinois will finally get better for horsemen.”

Many of the leading trainers in Illinois such as Nelson Willis, Dave Mc Caffrey, Bob Phillips, Roger Welch, Joel Smith, Mike Brink, and Merv Chupp to mention just a few have become owners of a good portion of the horses in their stable in their attempt to make a go of it in our state.

“I’ve been in the business a long time.” continued Perry. “Training horses is what I do. I’m not a young man anymore who is looking to make a career change and there isn’t anything out there waiting for me.”

The recent subzero weather that hit the Midwest didn’t play havoc with Perry or his stable.

“That severe cold weather couldn’t have come at a better time for me. We had good weather right up to the time we stopped racing. I’m in Florida right now taking a little planned vacation so the bad weather that hit the Chicago area didn’t affect the plans with my horses.”

Live racing on the circuit resumes Thursday, January 29 at Maywood where Perry was the leading trainer and on Saturday, January 31 at Balmoral where Nelson Willis took the conditioner’s crown for a second time.

by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

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