Young blood contributes to a healthy backstretch

SCOTT UNGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

He has seen many trainers, jockeys and horses ride in and ride out of Assiniboia Downs over his 44-year career as a trainer and Clayton Gray is happy with the new crop of trainers that are plying their trade in the backstretch off of Saskatchewan Avenue.

"You have to have young people come in and then they bring different people into the game," Gray said.

"It's good for racing to have these new people start and not have the horses all in one or two stables.

Manitoba Derby-winning trainer Martin Drexler is a perfect example of someone that has worked his way up through the ranks.

He has two stakes wins in his Downs-high 26 victories this season and has quickly become a force on the Winnipeg horse racing scene with his owner, Shyman Farms.

To get started as a trainer, there are no schools or classrooms, other than just getting in the barn and doing it.

"There isn't any training programs really," Gray said.

"I'd advise anybody that wanted to do that to go out and work for four or five good trainers and stick with them a while."

Getting that big break will take just that, a break.

"A lot of these big trainers, some of the owners don't like to be in big stables," Gray said. "Some owner might like some young guy and want him to just be his private trainer. That's how guys get started.

"If they take the best thing they've found from each one and use it, getting a little luck and have good horses, they are on their way."

So it's not surprising the guys that pay the bills not only have to buy the right horses, but also get the right trainers.

"A lot of owners take a shine to some of these younger people," Gray said. "Somebody that works hard and is really reliable, they start a lot of guys.

"Years ago I helped getting a number of guys started. They worked for me and were good with the horses and stuff like that. When we had too many horses, we just turned them over to those people."


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