On pace for top trainer title

SCOTT UNGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

If Martin Drexler becomes Assiniboia Downs leading trainer of 2007 after the racing concludes on Sunday, the title will be very well earned.

Drexler has a number of horses in the three stakes races that will close the season this weekend. A couple of more victories would assure him the leading trainer title.

"I got 28 wins last year and people told me, 'Oh, you better enjoy it because you will never have another year like this one,'" Drexler said yesterday.

The standings show Drexler with 41 wins in a mere 116 starts. He has eight more wins than second place holder Ardell Sayler and nine more than Tom Gardipy Jr., who is in third. Barring a rare surge from those two trainers this weekend, Drexler should have no trouble winning his first leading trainer title.

But there are some other numbers that jump off the page when you look at how Drexler -- only in his sixth year of doing this thing -- has done this season.

He is under $3,000 short of earning $500,000 this season. That of course was given a boost when Weather Warning chugged wire-to-wire to win the $100,000 Manitoba Derby in August.

Of the top 10 trainers at the local track this summer, six have more starts than Drexler and second place Sayler has had more than 200 horses run this summer.

Like any championship season, the roller-coaster of ride has left Drexler spinning. From having the most talked about horse at the track heading into the season in Shadow Rush flopping to start the year to 30-1 long shot Weather Warning winning the Manitoba Derby, there isn't much the local trainer hasn't seen this summer.

"Shadow Rush was obviously the hyped horse," Drexler recalled back to May when the season opened. "He ended up winning three races and I wouldn't call him a bust, but you hope for a little bit better."

Shadow Rush was given the rest of year off following the Wheat City Stakes.

Drexler admits Shadow Rush wasn't the only one in his barn that didn't get off to a particularly good start.

"It's hard to believe, but I actually started a little slower than I would have liked," he said. "Some of the Shyman (Farms) horses weren't running particularly well."

But then came Derby Weekend. While Drexler had turned things around in the month of July, it was that August long weekend when his season really turned the corner.

"I had 23 wins heading into August long weekend, so that was nice," he said.

But none were the cash-grabbing stakes wins. Enter Culpepper Moon with a win in the Winnipeg Sun Stakes a day before Weather Warnings surprise win.

"The Derby was huge. I kind of said to myself that whatever happened now, it's obviously been a successful year," said Drexler, who was the trainer of the month in July and August.

"With Ardell and these other guys having a bunch of horses, I didn't think I could hang on to get the title."

For most people at the track, their focus slowly shifts to next year after the Manitoba Derby, but that wasn't the case for Drexler.

"From August until now we've been putting up some crazy numbers with everything in sight," Drexler said.

In six weeks he's amassed 18 wins, almost half of his season's total.

"That was kind of fun to get," he noted.

He has three days of racing left to seal the leading trainer's title, finish the year with highest winning percentage and earn over half a million dollars on the season.

"Being leading trainer, leading percentage trainer and leading money-earned trainer all in the same year, that's pretty special because I don't think that's been done too often," said Drexler, who added his goals coming into the season was to be top money earner and lead trainers in winning percentage.

"Usually the leading trainer doesn't have the highest percentage."

And he isn't done yet.

"I've got a few live ones here coming up and ... I'm pretty solid in all the spots I think," Drexler said.

On Saturday, Drexler has Culpepper Moon and Empress Pegasus in the season-ending Matron for the ladies.

On Sunday he has Air Pegasus in the Winnipeg Futurity for two-year-olds and Drexler could have as many as five horses in the Gold Breeders' Cup to end the day.

The favourite and newly acquired Charley Tango will lead the crop of Drexler horses in the Gold Breeders' Cup to end the summer.


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