Day At The Track

Top 10 spot for Aussie trainer

09:00 AM 30 Oct 2020 NZDT
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Shane and Lauren Tritton,Harness racing
Shane and Lauren Tritton

Aussie harness racing expats Shane and Lauren Tritton might be on the steepest learning curve of their career, but they’re making their mark in their new adopted home at Pine Bush NY in the USA.

Despite missing the first three months of the year (the couple relocated early in 2020 and began racing only in April) Shane Tritton is now sitting eighth on the Yonkers trainers’ table but his impressive win-to-starters ratio of just under 33 percent (26 winners from 79 starters) leads the strike rate table.

The Trittons had some early success, but it’s in the past two months that they have done their best work, including an unforgettable day on October 1 – 18 starters for eight winners and eight placings, with victories at Yonkers, Pocono and Meadowlands. Their overall tally is 38 wins and 44 placings.

“We had a quiet time of it for the first two months, but with the results have come the owners.  The support from owners has been fantastic and we feel confident now that we know what we are doing and the results are coming,” Shane said.

“It was a nice surprise to be in that (top 10) list, because it’s hard to know where you are day to day. You just keep turning up at the meetings doing your best!”

The couple, with the assistance of six staff, now has 27 horses in work, and are keen to keep it to that number.

Shane Tritton hard at work at Pine Bush

Shane said it’s been a constant process of the couple learning and refining their training techniques.

“In Australia, a lot of the focus is on stamina. The horses need to be tougher because of our style of racing back home – they’re asked to go flat out at the start, then back off, and then pick the bit up over the latter stages and go flat out again,” he said.

“If you can get an easy quarter you grab it, cos the last quarter is the quickest.

“When we first of all came over, we had probably the wrong opinion about the American style of racing in thinking that it was all about speed.

“But we’ve learnt that’s really not what it’s all about— the versatile types of horses, those are the ones that will make you the most money.”

Shane said the experiences of his father Peter, who relocated to the USA more than 20 years ago, were instrumental in being able to make some short-cuts in trial and error on their training regime.

“When we first arrived, I remember dad telling us that in six months we’d look back and realize we weren’t training them anywhere near like we were back home,” Shane said.

“He was right. So we virtually went just straight to what has worked for him and we’ve just tried to fine tune things along the way.

“Over here there’s a lot of emphasis on health and soundness and I think keeping the horses a bit fresher – sort of along the lines of preparing thoroughbreds really. We have the horses looking good, they’re happy and they’re feeling great.”

Shane said one of the main challenges they’d faced was working out which tracks suit which horses.

“We’re basically racing nearly each day. We tend to stick to the same three or four racetracks, with the furtherest being one and a half hours away from Pine Bush,” he said.

“The racing is definitely harder at some of the tracks where they just go all out, all the way – it definitely takes a bit out of the horses.  They run some very fast times, and the drivers kind of keep pushing them hard.

“We do race at Meadowlands a lot – they don’t seem to go as hard there as some of the other tracks.  But because of the stakes, Yonkers is definitely the place to be if it suits the horse.  The first half there is always faster than the last.

“We have horses that like to lead and be driven forward, but some of the drivers decide after doing the form that the best option is to go back, and that’s where the versatility of the horses comes into play.”

Shane said there was a renewed buzz around the industry with a post-COVID rise in stakes being slated soon.

“With COVID shutting down the casinos, we’ve been racing for 50 percent of normal stakes,” he said.

“It’s going up by another 14 percent in a fortnight and hopefully by next February, everything will be back to normal.

“We are learning that the sport over here is very healthy.  Our runners have earnt $412,000 in stakemoney so far.  It’s a bit scary to think that in a normal season it would have been double that.”

Two former Aussie pacers to recently join Team Tritton have already made their presence felt in the US.

“War Dan followed a second placing with a smart Meadowlands victory in 1.50 flat, while Pat Stanley has a Yonkers win and two placings—all three of his starts have been great,” Shane said.

“We’ll just keep whacking away. I think we are adapting pretty well and our horses should keep getting better,” he said.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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