It takes a special breed of person to train thoroughbreds, which are a special breed of horses.
Becoming a successful thoroughbred trainer takes a complex blend of patience, endurance in the face of every type of adversity imaginable, competitive fire and an ability to tolerate losing without ever letting the losing become acceptable or overwhelming.
Emerald Downs trainer Bob Meeking once described his horse running second as the first loser in the race. Horse racing can be defined as a few wins and a lot of losing.
A high percentage trainer will lose eight of 10 races. No other sport gives so little winning with so much adversity.
Trainers are those folks who keep coming back, in the face of the odds. It is a sport that flows through a horseman’s blood, one race after another. The next win is always right around the clubhouse turn.
Chris Stenslie lives in Enumclaw with her husband Jeff, a veterinarian, and their children. Stenslie came by her love of the game through her mother, Alana Goff, who was a successful trainer at Longacres Park.
Last season Stenslie made a career high 35 trips to the winners circle, finishing fourth in wins and earnings. Her speedster Hollywood Harbor set a track and world record of 1 minute, 00.87 seconds for 5 1/2 furlongs April 22.
Stenslie said the 6-year-old gelding will not be racing this season while he recovers from an injury, but she has many others horses that will keep her busy in the winner’s circle.
Stenslie breaks all her own horses and can be seen every morning exercising her trainees on the track.
“I am always excited about 2-year-olds because I get to know them from the first day of breaking through the year,” Stenslie said.
Stenslie breaks all her own horses and is known for her innate horsemanship and the care she give her trainees.
Lucarelli and McCanna
Trainers Frank Lucarelli and Tim McCanna have been dominating forces at Emerald Downs from the day it opened in 1996. In the 17 years of racing through 2012, McCanna has won the training title 10 times, Lucarelli five.
Lucarelli is the most recent title holder with 43 in 2012. He also won the training title in 2011 with 53 victories.
McCanna most recently won the title in 2010 with 63 and he set the win record at 66 in 2008.
For their careers at Emerald, McCanna is first with 848 wins and Lucarelli second with 719.
In the career earnings category McCanna has $7,878,930 heading the list, second is Jim Penney with $7,541,720 and Lucarelli is third with $7,218,993.
Junior Coffey started his athletic career on the gridiron as a University of Washington star running back and Green Bay Packer running back playing for Vince Lombardi. After his football career ended, Coffey moved to horse racing and has been a top trainer for decades.
With a 31.5 percent win record last season at Emerald, Coffey is known as one of the most solid horseman on the track. Among many career highlights, his conditioning of Raise the Bluff, owned by track president Ron Crockett, to a second place finish in the 2007 Longacres Mile is near the top. He also trained Run Away Stevie, 13th all-time in Washington earnings with $468,267.
Blaine Wright is another who has the business flowing through his veins. His father, Richard Wright, was on excellent jockey and trainer, and he now works with his son.
Blaine Wright has been a top 10 trainer in wins for four of five seasons at Emerald. Last season he conditioned Hudson Landing to a stakes win in the Mt. Rainier and another at Golden Gate. He also trained D’honorable One, one of the top 3 year olds on the grounds. D’honorable One ran to a dead heat finish with Makors Finale in the Auburn Handicap.
Wright is one to watch. His horses are always ready to run and in top condition.
Trainer Career Stakes Wins at Emerald
Doris Harwood - 56
Jim Penney - 45
Bud Klokstad- 43
Tim McCanna - 31
Frank Lucarelli - 29
Howard Belvoir - 29
Five wins days - Trainer
Jim Penney - Sept. 6 1998
Doris Harwood - Aug. 8 2009
Tim McCanna - July 8, 2010
Consecutive Stakes wins – horse
Ropersandwranglers - 7
Noosa Beach - 6
Fleet Pacific - 6
Career wins – owners
Ron Crockett, Inc. - 222
Larry and Veralene Hillis - 155
Sue and Time Spooner - 149
Career Earning - owners
Ron Crockett, Inc. - $3,518,020
Northwest Farms - $2,000,970
Sue and Tim Spooner - $1644,124
Career Stakes wins
Northwest Farms - 29
Michael and Amy Feuerborn - 22
Ron Crockett Inc. - 17