We are visiting today with three time harness racing trainer of the year.
This past year Jimmy had three Breeders Crown winners, Father Patrick ( two-year old colt trotter), Shake It Cerry ( two-year old filly trotter), and Ulffizi Hanover ( two-year old filly pacer). His past accomplishments include more than 70 million in earnings and more than 1,200 victories for his stable. He has won the Hambletonian twice, withand , and trained back-to back Horse of the Year Moni Maker. We caught up with him as he got off the training track at his impressive farm in East Windsor, New Jersey.
One-On-One is done exclusively for Harnesslink.com by Brian McEvoy.
HLINK: Tell us about your impressive farm and training facility in East Windsor, New Jersey and what you are focusing on at this time of the year.
JT: Right now I am concentrating on the babies we just recently bought. We have 70 horses and of those are 40 new babies. We have over 100 acres, a 5/8 mile track, a 3/4 mile straight track, and a 2 mile jogging track.
HLINK: You had an incredible year of racing. What are your thoughts on this past year of racing?
JT: It was a very good year with close to 8 million. I didn't have those three olds that I had the year before. I was actually aiming for around 6 million, so doing 8 million was very good.
HLINK: You had two Breeders Crown winning trotters in Shake It Cerry and Father Patrick.has said that Shake It Cerry is the best two-year- old filly trotter he has ever driven. How good was she this year? What are your plans for her next year?
JT: She had a fantastic year. She is one of a kind. She had one bad start in Indiana. She trotted 1:51 and a piece at Pocono. This year was one of the best group of two-year-old trotting fillies I have ever seen. She is just a top horse. I have to see the stakes schedule when it comes out. I will schedule her for all the big races.
HLINK: Would you race her against the boys in the Hambo?
JT: I don't thinks so. If it is a shallow group of three year olds, which I don't think it will be. Then it is a possibility, but probably not.
HLINK: Your two-year-old trotter, Father Patrick, destroyed the competition this year.said " He can go so fast it's scary". He will be the early favorite for the Hambletonian. Give us the lowdown on Father Patrick.
JT: He had a perfect season. He is one of the most gifted horses I have ever been around. He is the best two-year-old I have ever had. He is one of the better two-year-olds I ever seen in the 30 years I have been here. He is very consistent and has a flawless gait. He has been a very sound horse, which is a big plus. I am going to lay out the right schedule for him. The goal is to win the Hambletonian.
HLINK: Let's talk about your two outstanding two-year-old fillies in Uffizi Hanover and Ali Blue.
JT: Ali Blue has been a horse that has been hampered by bad posts and bad luck all year. When she had a good post as in her last race,she came up in bad form and finished third. She had a good year. She can step it up and compete at the highest level next year and be a top horse. Uffizi was coming on at the end of the year. She was sitting on top of a top performance. It was a surprise to me that she won the Breeders Crown. I am excited about her. She can compete at the highest level next year.
HLINK: You had both Guccio and Uncle Peter in the ultra competitive older trot division. You have stated that Uncle Peter is a notch better than Guccio.
JT: They established themselves very well in the age group. I think both of those horses will have a chance to step it up next year. Uncle Peter is a little bit more handy. You can use him a little more at the start and get better position. That is the big difference. Guccio has to depend upon what kind of pace it is. Things like that make it a handicap for him.
HLINK: Trixton was the highest priced trotting yearling sold at auction last year at $360,000. He had an up and down year. How do you see his development?
JT: I think he is going to do quite well. He was battling some issues all year. We finally found out he had a hairline fracture of the sesamoid. We took care of that. I think he is going to be good to go next year and be a contender for all the big races.
HLINK: Rockin Amedeus had a bit of a disappointing year after winning the Breeders Crown as a two-year-old. What happened with him this year? Will he be shut down and race again next year?
JT: It looks like he might end up as a stallion in Ohio next year
HLINK: You were very active at both the Harrisburg and Lexington sales. You had the sales topper at Lexington in Custom Fit for a high bid of $475,000. He is the full brother to Father Patrick and Pastor Stephen. Were you surprised by how high the bidding got?
JT: The horse was a absolutely gorgeous horse. I was actually afraid that I might have to go higher than that. The same group of people that own Father Patrick wanted this horse. I am so glad I got him and he is a very nice colt.
HLINK: At Harrisburg you bought Canepa Hanover for $300,000. He is the half brother to Breeders Crown winner.
JT: He is also a very nice colt. I am also so happy to get him. He is a beautiful horse with a great gait. He shows a lot of promise at this point.
HLINK: Tell us about some of your other purchases.
JT: It is so early to tell which horses will be really good. They have been just jogging a little bit. I am so pleased with the purchases. This is the best group of purchased horses that I have ever had. This is a group of great potential horses, especially the two -year- old trotting colts. They are very, very, strong this year. There is one horse that I did not pay that much for that is out of a Costa Rica sister. I really like this horse that I bought at Harrisburg. I though he would go much higher. I got him for a reasonable amount. I think his name is Murray Hanover. MY wife is in charge of naming the horses.
HLINK: What are your impressions of the new Meadowlands and how it will help racing?
JT: I am really pleased with the job they done. It looks like they have all the material. Now we just gotta bring the crowd there and let them start betting. There is a whole process they have to go thru. They have to teach people to start getting exciting about going to the races again. They have plenty of new bars, restaurants, and entertainment. They have to keep it up. Hopefully the people will come back. We have to take care of the customers who come to the races. We can't just expect them to show up.
HLINK: The industry is putting a little more emphasis on racing horses as they get a little older. The Meadowlands has just added a $ 400,000 type Hambletonian trot for 4-year-old male trotters. What are your thoughts on this trend?
JT: You see great horses like Captaintreacherous. He had two very tough seasons. I think horses only have so many good miles in them. If you are racing a horse as hard as we do as a two-year-old and then again as a three-year-old, it is tough. Forcing people to continue racing as a four-year old, I am against that. That is no guarantee how good Captaintreacherous will come back. Those people should have to right to stand him at stud if they choose to. You take a horse like Heston Blue Chip who only made $80,000 this year. That is a sign that it is very difficult to establish themselves as a 4-year-old. Unless they are going to have a strictly 4-Year- old races for these horses and I don't think the industry can afford it. We were very fortunate with Guccio, Uncle Peter and Market Share as there was a generation change for those aged horses. Thrond's horse was basically the only one that was left. There was a bunch of beat up trotters. Those horses came in very nice. It is tough for the pacers. I think you take a 3 year-old pacer that is turning 4 and they are going to have a helluva time facing this competition.
HLINK: The racing in Ohio is going to be a big factor in the future with the opening of all the Racinos. How do you see your participation in Ohio racing?
JT: I think it is a big possibility. They are starting to accumulate some stallions now.. They need to upgrade the breeding material. They will get it done. The purses will eventually climb up. Hopefully they will get it close to Pennsylvania, which would be great. When the money comes a stable like us will show up. I haven't purchased any Ohio breds yet.
HLINK: You have some great owners in John Fielding, Marvin Katz, the Solveigs Group, and others. Tell us about your relationship with your owners.
JT: The owners I have now are the best in the sport. I don't have one single bad owner. It is just a pleasure to work for them. They are very understanding and have been in the game a long time. They know it is bad days and good days. They are all good friends of mine. I have a very good group of people behind me.
HLINK: Your wife Christina is also a owner for you. Is she tough on you?
JT: No she is not really. She is my biggest supporter. She handles everything in the operation and billing. She makes sure everybody is paid and is running the show. She has a tough job actually.
HLINK: How do you decide which drivers to put on your horses? You have used many including, , , and others. You also at times drive yourself.
JT: I make all the calls. I never let the owners get involved with that. I know all my horses and all the players. I try to find the most suitable driver for that horse. But sometimes I have a horse that is a little bit green. I know my horses better than those guys. I am a half decent driver and when they are established and are ready for them to play with, I can turn them over to these guys.
HLINK: You have had success with the trotters and pacers.. Who do you think is easier to train?
JT: The pacers are maybe a little bit easier game. The pacers are a little more sensitive. You have to play more mental game with the pacers. You have to make sure they don't get crushed too early. Pacers can get crushed early easier than a trotter does.
HLINK: You have won most every stakes race, Hambo, Breeders Crown, Elitelope, etc. What races have you not won that you have your eye on?
JT: All these big races are nice to win. There are a couple of them left to win. The North American Cup and the Meadowlands Pace I have been second in. They are basically the only two big races I have not won. Of course I am much more supportive in the trotting industry. I have better bred trotters than pacers. Sooner or later I will grab those races in the future.
HLINK: It is a little slower time of the year in harness racing. Are you planning a break or some vacation time?
JT: We have not made any plans yet. Most likely we will try to get away somewhere. I will look at the weather. When it look like it is going to change we will get away for a few days.
By Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com