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Raymer following in father's footsteps

June 17, 2011
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Tyler Raymer is quickly following in the footsteps of his father, Jim, as the go-to guy for problem trotters.

The 36-year-old trainer is using the training and shoeing techniques he learned from his father, who turned $6,000 yearling Green Day into a millionaire, to turn castoffs and fumbly gaited horses into money winners.  Sevruga is one of his successful projects so far.

The 3-year-old gelding bids for his fourth straight win in the $15,000 second leg of the Magician Series, race seven, on Friday night at Meadowlands Racetrack.  Raymer and driver Jim Meittinis purchased the unraced son of SJ's Caviar several months ago for an undisclosed sum.

"Jimmy asked me a few months ago if I wanted to work on a project," Raymer said.  "A buddy of his had Sevruga and couldn't figure him out.  We bought him and changed him around.

"When he came to me he was a stud, and he looked like a top class pacer.  I jogged him for the first two days and all he did was pace.  I thought they sent us the wrong horse.  After shoeing him, obviously, he started to trot.  He was just 1,200 pounds of muscle.  So, there's the potential to have a phenomenal horse.  We just have to manage him right and not let him hurt himself.  It was just immaturity and he had no manners at all, but as soon as we gelded him he was all business."

Sevruga broke his maiden in his third start, smashing the stakes record of 1:55.1 in the Pennsylvania Stallion Series at The Meadows on May 16.

"Two weeks before I qualified him, I said this horse scares me," Raymer said.  "I trained him a mile in 2:04 off the gate, and his heart rate was 60.  Even the top conditioned horses aren't that low.  After Palone drove him a couple of times he asked me if I realized how good he is."

Sevruga went on to win his next two starts, a 1:56 romp in the stallion series at Harrah's Chester and a narrow 1:55.1 victory in last week's first round of the Magician Series at the Meadowlands.

"He won last Friday, but he still wasn't 100 percent," Raymer said.  "At the head of the stretch it looked like he was going to get beat, but he's one of the best equine athletes I've been around.  He won on will and guts.   We have to take care of a few issues that came up from that race, plus we're faced with the 10-hole this week.  Hopefully, we can get him off the gate on the right foot.

"Now I wish he was staked a little bit," he added.  "I'll probably only be able to find 10 or 12 starts for him this year, and the plan is to have a good older horse.  He's still extremely green.  He doesn't know how to be a racehorse yet, and he's just doing it on pure, natural ability."

Raymer grew up in his father's barn, but said the elder Raymer pushed him out of the business "to get an education and a real job."

"I did finish school but I learned the business side of things managing a restaurant," he said.  "That's how I met my wife.  By my mid-twenties, I sold my fancy house and car, and I invested the money in horses."

He now has 25 horses at a farm in Leighton, PA, while his father has a dozen stabled at Pocono Downs.

"I started out on my own with a bunch of cheap horses, and I eventually developed a niche with trotters through my dad," he said.  I shoe them all myself and learned that from him.  We have a different way of setting them up from the old school way, which is hard to explain.  We try to balanced them out and keep them sound so they can produce."

Eventually, horsemen were approaching Raymer with their most frustrating pupils.

"It got to a point where some guys couldn't get a horse to go, so they'd send them to me to figure them out," he said.  "They still might not trot all of the time, but mostly things go the right way.  I like tinkering with them and getting them going." (Meadowlands)
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