McNeight reaches 1,000 training wins
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Longtime western New York horseman Jim McNeight reached a career milestone as he won his 1,000 race as a trainer.
McNeight was at 999 before his pacer Open Water finished second on Wednesday (Dec. 6) and was placed first through a disqualification. But McNeight made it official on Friday (Dec. 15) when his trotter Millbrook Hanover driven by his son Jim McNeight Jr., won easily in the snow to notch his 1,000th career victory.
McNeight got started in the business while in his teens and learned under the guidance of his father Ed McNeight Sr. He got his driver's license in 1981 and became a go-to catch driver in western New York within a few years.
Focusing mainly on driving for the first part of his career, McNeight added training to his daily duties when he father retired in 1992 and since that time has been a mainstay at Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway ever since.
In June of 2016, McNeight was involved in a bad accident at Buffalo Raceway and came away with a severe back injury that sidelined him for months. After time off and extensive rehab, he has been able to resume jogging and training but his doctors will not clear him to race due to the possibility of further damage in the event of another racing incident.
So now McNeight focuses fully on the training end of his current stable of 10 and is a full time coach for his son who does all the driving now and is a rising star on the same circuit his father excelled on for so many years.
Jim McNeight's 1,000th training win was the result of 6,450 starts that also saw him finish second 932 times and third another 919. All told his earnings have amounted to just under $3.5 million.
"It's very special to reach a milestone like this but you can't do it without good, faithful owners and I have been blessed to have three of them" said McNeight. "Mike Ventura, Mike Calimeri and Dave Sanlorenzo have backed me for over 20 years and made those 1,000 wins possible."
Mike Ventura owns Millbrook Hanover.
For his driving career McNeight has 3,587 wins and over $13 million earned in purses.