Ford Looks For First $5 Million Season
November 26, 2010
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With a Horse of the Year and training facility to his credit, Mark Ford has already achieved what few others in racing have ever done. This year, he looks to reach another milestone.
"We're trying to hit the $5 million mark for the first time, and we're about $260,000 away," Ford said. "December is usually a month of famine for us, but we're hopeful."
Ford has $4,741,325 in earnings through November 25, 2010, ranking him seventh among all trainers in North America. At the Meadowlands, Ford leads the fall meet standings with 12 wins and $113,671 in purses. He is prominent in Saturday's program with eight entries, including Super Eighty Eight, who bids for his third straight win in the fifth race.
"I've had Super Eighty Eight pretty much his whole life. The guys that own him [John Como and John Como, Jr. of Towaco, NJ] deserve to have a good horse. They're a father-and-son team that has had horses forever. Super Eighty Eight is sort of a pet to us."
In August, Ford became the first trainer to reach $40 million in career purse earnings before the age of 40, and only the sixth trainer in history to accomplish the feat. He has surpassed $3 million in purses won in 10 of the last 11 years and posted over 200 wins in each of the last eight seasons. After $4 million seasons in 2008 and 2009, Ford looks to break into the next earnings bracket before the year is out.
Ford admits there has been nothing flashy about his stable in recent years. His only Dan Patch Award winner is Gallo Blue Chip, the 2000 Horse of the Year and 2001 Pacing Horse. But his earnings volume speaks for itself.
"We've had no big horse over the last couple of years, but we did have four horses this year make a combined million dollars, and none of them were in a stakes race: Pembroke Prayer [$263,490], Handsome Harry [$235,984], Ubetterthink Think [$211,672], and Doubleshotascotch [$146,197].
"We dabbled in some New York Sires Stakes, but essentially it's just been a lot of hard work and a lot of shipping. It's quite a mixed bag, kind of a blue-collar grind-it-out everyday situation and we make the most of what we have. I'm not looking to cut down yet. We have a big operation here and we have to keep it going. For sure, I'd like to have a few more Gallo Blue Chips. I went to Harrisburg, bought a couple of yearlings, but no racehorses. One of the unique things is that I own big pieces of many of my horses."
Ford realized a dream when he opened a 76-acre, state-of-the-art training center in Middletown, NY in 2008. Located within two hours of five racetracks, it has five barns with 200 stalls and a five-eighths mile track.
"There were several aspects that came together well when we built our training center. To start with, I'm training 50 to 60 horses myself, and we developed a large piece of property here. That was the key, yet also at the time the tax issues for us were very favorable. So, with those three components we were able to make this work well. We were actually ready to do this a long time before the racinos came in New York, yet that's obviously been a plus as well.
"I'm very proud of the fact that we did this because this type of construction hadn't been done here in years. Because of the topography, we had to move a tremendous amount of dirt and sold a lot of it to the town. When all is said and done, we developed a very nice piece of property. It's still a work in progress, but it came out a lot better than I had hoped."
The response to his training center by other horsemen has also exceeded Ford's expectations.
"I've been very fortunate because I never advertised nor asked anybody to come, but we've got some of the best stables we could ask for. Joe Anderson, Rob Harmon, Carmine Fusco, Nat Varty, Brandon Simpson, Tyler Buter and Scott Blackler are all here." (Meadowlands)