When I entered racing, there was a multi-year apprenticeship qualification before you could take the written and practical tests for achieving a trainer’s license. This page outlines some of the early years for me and a bit of tribute to the two most influential people in the development of my horsemanship, as well as the company that contributed the most to my business and professional development.
For the first five years in the business, I worked for Ernie Danks Jr. Ernie learned his skills working for Hall of Famer Delvin Miller and started his training career at The Meadows. Ernie was extremely strict and thoroughly schooled me on the fundamentals of horsemanship. I think back, and the one key learning from Ernie that I am the most thankful for is that I learned how to hold together or recover from injuries, the older claimers that fill out our cards every night. Ernie showed how to do it the “old fashioned” way with paint, good rubbing, and proper conditioning. I groomed in various states and racetracks along the east coast with the horses I cared for making starts at Pompano Park, Free State Raceway, Freehold, The Meadowlands, Brandywine, and Rosecroft Raceway.
After working for Ernie, I worked for Joe Pavia Jr. Joe is an incredibly passionate competitor and loyal friend. From Joe, I learned a bit more about speed, how he managed a larger stable, and the importance of research, and I became a bit deeper into veterinary management.
At one point in between working for Ernie and Joe, I spent a summer grooming thoroughbreds at Gulfstream and Calder. From the thoroughbred experience, I learned the importance of nutrition and the proper balance of feed additives to enhance your horse’s health. But the standardbreds were more appealing to me than the runners.
I spent many years outside of racing, and to this day my racing endeavors are my “side hustle”. My primary career is in Information Technology (IT). Although I started as internal IT staff for a Siemens affiliate, I moved to the “vendor channels” working for some of the largest companies in IT and Cloud. I have worked for Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and HP. I have nearly 20 years of non-contiguous time working for Microsoft, three years of wasted life at AWS, and one year at HP in their failed attempt at Cloud. Microsoft was the best business experience of my life where I started in a role that could be described as a technical advisor for customers, progressing from there to international roles driving business for cloud and product sets that intake billions of dollars for Microsoft. My current, and possible final role (as I age out of my career), at Microsoft is as the TimeZone Lead for the Americas for the Azure SQL Business. Here is my LInkedIn Profile if you have an interest.
I am very thankful to both Joe and Ernie and to this day, I highly value their friendship. When I reentered the sport intending to train my own horses I looked back on my personal history to find the highlights of what I learned from various people that helped me along the way – and these would be the principles that define my methodology:
Healthy Horses – feeding the best performance feed and additives. Personal attention to detail of each horse in my care.
Happy Horses – understand the individual needs of the horses in my care. I believe in ample turnout time, diverse workout experiences, and kindness. These incredible animals deserve to be treated with dignity.
Preparation – in all aspects of this business, you need to be prepared. Proper conditioning of horses. The ability to fully understand and research the input/feedback you receive from veterinarians, farriers, and drivers. Being competitive requires constant research on all the latest methods, equipment, nutrition, and health trends.