Indiana's Stohler enjoying good run at Meadows
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When a trainer introduces his horses to a new track, he faces a number of challenges — finding stall space and suitable personal lodgings, unfamiliarity with the local procedures and racing surface — that can adversely affect on-track performance.
Somebody forgot to warn Trent Stohler. Since the Markleville, IN-based Stohler began racing his stock at The Meadows following the close of the Hoosier Park meeting, he’s compiled a sparkling .337 UTR through his first 67 starts, including 13 wins.
Four Stohler charges will go forward Saturday: Superficial (race 6, post 7, Tony Hall); He’s A Popper (race 8, post 3, Hall; Blakemore (race 9, post 6, Hall), I’vegotagirlcrush (race 12, post 1, Jim Pantaleano). First post is 1:05 PM.
A 1991 graduate of Indiana State University with a degree in business management —"I wish it had been accounting," he jokes — Stohler served four years as second trainer for Ernie Gaskin before launching his own stable, which numbers about 40. Of those, roughly16 have been racing at The Meadows.
Since 1995, he’s earned more than $9 million in purses as a trainer and over $6.3 million as a driver. Even so, Stohler has yet to drive at The Meadows and doesn’t expect to.
"We’ve been lucky enough to get Dave Palone, Dan Rawlings, Hall or Pantaleano about 99 percent of the time," he says. "That’s good enough."
Stohler solved the stalls/lodging problem by shipping in the night before each race program and returning to Markleville at the conclusion of the card. It’s a demanding 4-1/2-hour ship, but Stohler’s staff is large enough that they can rotate the drives and keep fatigue at bay.
As for knowing the track, Stohler raced such outstanding Pennsylvania-bred youngsters as Cult Icon and Glassine Hanover in sires stakes at The Meadows, helping him learn the lay of the land.
"I like the people there, the style of racing and the conditions of the races," he says. "We have certain horses that fit certain classes. That helps, as does having the right drivers."
Stohler has tried racing his stable in Ohio rather than western Pennsylvania during Indiana’s off-season, an experiment that cut his travel time . . . and his earnings.
"I was getting my rear end kicked there pretty good," he says ruefully. "I’ve never done any good there."
Also on Saturday, The Meadows is collaborating with Toys for Tots on a holiday collection. Patrons who donate a new toy will receive a $5 voucher (limit one per person). In addition, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is offering starting car rides, paddock tours, a "Pick the Winners" contest and a live radio broadcast from the Racebook. To register for any activity or for more information, stop by the MSOA table in the RCebook. (The Meadows)