Fourth generation Illinois horseman Steven Searle says that if he had his life over again he would choose to be a harness racing trainer and driver. 'It feels like I never have to go to work. The job is so enjoyable. Every day is different. My wife 'Debbie' and I have a nice wee farm and we work a few horses.
“I wouldn’t trade this job for any other career. It doesn’t feel like work – I just love what I do. I’m grateful to my family for the life I now live,” Grant Park-based Searle told Harnesslink.
Searle said his great grandfather Robert, his grandfather (also Robert), and his late father John, all trained out of Wisconsin before his father relocated to Illinois when Steve was four.
Of the four horsemen Steven has proven to be the most successful in the family having driven 1,271 winners ($4.3m) since 1978 and trained 464 ($2.7m).
“Dad did mainly the Chicago circuit at B grade tracks and was the leading driver at matinee tracks like Quad City Downs and Louisville Downs.
“My grandfather and his father were also horsemen. I remember when I was very little I had my own horse and they supervised and taught me all about both standardbreds and racing. They corrected me and encouraged me,” Searle said.
The 52-year-old said he was always destined to be a horseman. Even at Princeton High School he was permitted to study half days and spend the other half working with horses.
“Dad wanted me to graduate and I did that when I was 17. Then two years later I started driving at Fairs. I’ve basically worked for myself or family since,” Searle said.
When Searle first started out training he leased four horses and at that stage he realised he would either sink or swim.
“It was make or break time and thankfully I hung in there. Today I work a team in Illinois and mainly race them at Balmoral Park, Maywood Park and Cambridge.”
Searle said the best of his team at present was 3-year-old Bands Gold Chip trotting filly, Ants Iner Pants, who he owns with Tom Wisniewski in Howell Michigan.
She’s won seven of her 20 starts including a nice victory in 1:57.3 at Balmoral Park last month. That was a personal best time.
His most successful horse was the now 15-year-old Ideal Society mare, First Crush (1:53.4), who won seven times and placed on 22 occasions for $103,058.
“She was probably my best horse, but the trotter I’ve got now is pretty good. Keep an eye on her,” Searle said.
He said his father and the late Jim McGarphy gave him valuable standardbred information that he never forgot.
“They were both very knowledgeable horsemen. I’ll never forget some of the things they told me. That is why I love this game. I will never do anything else. It’s deep in my blood,” Searle said.
Searle and his wife have no children – just four Jack Russells.
He is a keen golfer with a 10 handicap.
He has a lot of respect for four-time Major winner Phil Mickelson.
By Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) Steve Searle is a passionate golfer who respects four-time Major champion Phil Mickelson. Here’s his top 10 shots:
(2) Steve Searle also respects the music of John Lennon:
(3) Steve is also a fan of Stevie Ray Vaughan: