Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Summer Bird Has A New Barn

A couple of hours ago, Tim Ice was fired as the trainer of Summer Bird by owner K.K. Jayaraman. Of course the Eclipse winning Summer Bird was only the top name of the Jayaraman Stable that was removed from Ice's care. Twenty four other horses were also taken from Ice and moved to trainer Tim Ritchey. In the Yahoo! Sports article, the reason cited by Jayaraman was "a lack of communication".

Admittedly, I know nothing about the circumstances surrounding the split, but it does open up a conversation about trainer communication and what is and isn't enough. I think a lot has to do with the personality of folks involved. A controlling person probably needs more care and feeding than a laissez faire owner. I fall somewhere in between myself. I have enough trust, faith and confidence in my trainers to let them do their job. By the same token, though, as a syndicator I have a responsibility and an obligation to make sure the partners in the horse are well informed of their progress. Part of my thought process when dealing with my partners is that the more involved in the process they are, the more enjoyment they'll get out of owning a racehorse.

At this point in our 2010 Claiming Partnership we have the money and now we're shopping. Not much to report on that front, but I sent a note out to the group anyhow on Friday just to let them know we're still looking. I actually feel guilty that I haven't sent anything out since then, but there really isn't anything new to report - and it's only been 4 days! Maybe that's a bit overboard, but the point is that you're better off being a little more communicative than less.

I try to set aside a set day and time to touch base with my trainer(s). I don't try and take up too much of their time, I just want to get a rundown on any aches and pains, how galloping has been going, any works the horse may have had and where we are pointing them for their next race. That's all I really need on a weekly basis. Of course that's pretty easy when you only have a handful of horses in training. What happens when I have 25? I have to say that I don't really know, though I'm looking forward to having that problem. I would think that more extensive communication would be required - possibly to the degree of receiving written updates on a regular basis. While it's hard for a trainer to find that kind of time, if you multiply a day rate of say $70 times 25 horses, I would think you'd make the time for someone paying you $1750 a day plus a cut of the purses.

Some trainers are of the opinion that owners are like mushrooms: just keep them fed, watered and in the dark. I don't know if Tim Ice is that kind of trainer. Some owners are overbearing, think they know better than the professionals they hire and change trainers like they change underwear. I don't know if K.K. Jayaraman is that kind of owner. I like to think that my position is a bit of the middle ground and I'm fortunate that my trainers are open to dialogue and discussion. I also like to think that neither of us would have it any other way.


Sandra Warren said...

I think MOST trainers don't tell the owners (especially multiple owners for one horse) as much as the owners would like to hear. But I'll bet the Tim Ice's communication index in the last three months is exactly what it was just after winning the Travers. It's a common thing for owners of a Big Horse to suddenly get upwardly mobile with their trainers. What a disappointment for Tim Ice, who is clearly Rookie of the Year for trainers. The owners are ungrateful boobs. If they really had a beef, the way to handle it would have been to get some more horses with another trainer, then ease out of the situation with Ice through attrition. How can you quit on a guy and devastate his stable right after (and I mean RIGHT AFTER!) he earned you an Eclipse Award. It certainly brings a new meaning to the phrase, "What have you done for me lately?"

Anonymous said...

Apparently FLS had the same problem. Ice lasted about a week with them. They too said that communication was an issue. Its worth noting that their syndicate manager had been with the previous trainer for 25 yrs up until his death. They aren't the only ones that have jumped on Ice. Maybe his attitude is the problem. You should never forget who is paying the bills....