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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rider Racing Forging Ahead In Horse Industry

Highlands Graduate Identified As Up and Comer Horse Training 

Fort Thomas grad Mylor Rider now trains 10 horses as owner and founder of Rider Racing.
Sometimes life takes unexpected paths, as has been the case for Mylor Rider. Raised in Fort Thomas and a 2001 Highlands High School grad, Rider initially had his eyes set on the world of finance. And while it was his declared major, he simply wasn't fully committed to a career in the financial world.

A 2008 graduate of University of Kentucky, Rider spent a lot of time at Keeneland during his undergraduate years. Time at the track along with a summer spent working with horses on a farm in Paris, Ky., piqued his interest. Upon graduation and armed with a bachelor in business administration degree, Rider attended the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, and completed requirements for a second degree—a bachelor of science (animal science) in 2010. He did well there, completing impressive internships and earning the Distinguished Student Award in 2010.

Today Rider trains 10 horses as owner and founder of Rider Racing, LLC. His horses have run races at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Turfway Park, Indiana Grand and Belterra. And family and friends have been supportive all the way. (Many Fort Thomas residents know Rider's father—local pediatric dentist Dr. David Rider.)

"My family has been a source of moral and financial support in this endeavor," Rider says. "My dad and I claimed our first horse, Wicked Pickett, together in February 2014. I drug my dad into this game in 2005, and he has been hooked every since. Truly, my family has been instrumental in marketing, promoting and expanding our brand. I intend to make Rider Racing synonymous with integrity and winning; my family understands this and they try to get the word out about our successes any chance they get." 

While many family members thought one of Dr. David Rider's children would follow his dentistry footsteps, Dr. Rider says he and his wife, Vicki, have loved watching his children pursue their own dreams. (Rider's sister, Lauren Lail, is a clothing designer.) Rider's parents attend almost every race. "It's amazing to watch," Dr. Rider says.

One of Mylor Rider's horses.

Dr. Rider adds that his son's degree in business administration, coupled with his intellectual capability, allows Rider to use business analysis in order to assess what he's doing in a way other trainers might not be able to do. Dr. Rider also drove his son to both internships, noting his son's passion despite the stark living conditions and long hours.

"I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in two, separate internships while attending the UA," Rider says. "Each took place in the summer months in Saratoga Springs, NY. The first internship was with perennial leading trainer, Todd Pletcher, himself a graduate of the RTIP at the UA. The second internship opportunity took me to Mott Stable; I was impressed by both, but ultimately began working for the Mott stable full-time in January of 2011 at Payson Park in Indiantown, Fla."

In the world of horse racing, Pletcher and Mott are very big names. Example: While with Mott, Rider worked with Royal Delta, a champion filly who made back-to-back appearances in the Dubai World Cub—the richest race in the sport. Rider accompanied Royal Delta during her travels to Dubai for the race.

"Bill is one of, if not, the youngest trainer to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame," Rider says. "He trained the incomparable Cigar and countless other top-class horses and his fair share of champions. His crew, from the assistants down to the hot walkers, have been with him for decades and are top-notch. So the long hours were of no concern to me; my primary concern was whether or not there would be enough hours in the day to pick these people's brains to more fully expand my knowledge base." 

In an era in which some people love to opine on millennials supposedly lacking work ethic, Rider serves as a thirtysomething case study for the opposite. "Working for Bill was more physically demanding than anything else the first year," Rider says. His first position at Mott Stable was that of groom, and he was responsible for the care of four racehorses. This entailed cleaning and bedding the stalls, preparing each charge to train each morning (i.e. running bandages, saddling, bridling), giving baths after training sessions, addressing any concerns with the animal's legs post-training, wrapping each leg with protective, standing bandages, plus general grooming with brushes, curry combs and hoof picks. Rider arrived at the barn each morning between 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., and completed his morning duties around llam. Between 3:30pm to 5pm Rider would pick stalls, check temperatures, remove bandages and feed the horses.

"The initial learning curve was steep, but made somewhat less so due to my internship experience," Rider says. "But, don't get me wrong. I have been out on my own for over two years at this point, and I learn something new every day. The folks that work for Bill are some of the very best at what they do, so just observing, listening and emulating is what I intended to do."

Mylor Rider begins his days at the barn at 5:30am.

Today, Rider currently trains 10 horses. "We have four older racehorses, a 3-year-old filly and five 2-year-old horses," he says. "Each individual is significantly different than the other. Each has likes/dislikes and needs/wants that we need to sort out to keep them happy and healthy. Our training program can be succinctly described as 'if the horse is asking for more, then give it to him.' We can be demanding of a horse or we can lighten his workload, depending on where we are in his training, what his demeanor is like, and his physical and mental condition. We do speed work, on the whole, probably more often than others; we never want to be under-prepared for a race or a work." 
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And Rider's work ethic hasn't waned since his time with Mott. Each morning Rider arrives at the barn between 5:30am and 6am. The first set hits the track no later than 6:30am, and the training/cooling out regimen for each horse—individually or in groups of three—takes place between 6:30am and 10:30am. Morning work is wrapped up around 11:30am, and then Rider and his team sets the lunch meal for each horse. "Some mornings go more smoothly than others; we are dealing with living, breathing creatures after all," Rider says. A veterinarian and blacksmith check in daily. The barn is quiet from noon until 3:30 p.m. when grooms and hot walkers return to clean the stalls and walk/graze a few horses during the afternoon. The second meal is set around 5 p.m. "Often I will come back again in the late evening hours, around 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., to check on everything and to offer a few horses a bit of extra grain," Rider says.

One of Mylor Rider's horses.

In addition to the caring and training of horses, there's a substantial business side of work, too. "Finding investors is frankly quite difficult," Rider says. "The largest auction in the world occurs each September at Keeneland. Nearly 5,000 yearlings are on offer there and the prices range from millions to 'here, you can have him.'" Rider says the difficulty with entering the market here is that racehorses do not participate races until they are 2 years old. "One might purchase a yearling in September and may own the horse for a year or more, all the while incurring expenses, before that individual makes it to the races if he ever makes it at all. The earliest that horse might make a racing debut is likely in April, but at least six months of a daily rate and other expenses can add up to a significant sum. At that point, one's racehorse really has to perform, early and often, to realize any return on the investment." 

Rider says prospective investors can also enter the market at 2-year-in-training sales in which they can watch a horse train before bidding begins, at a claiming race in which a horse in full training is purchased for a prescribed price or via a private purchase. "The problem with finding investors is that there are significant barriers to entry into this market—lack of expertise/knowledge of the market place/goods for sale being chief among them," Rider says. "Horse sales can be an intimidating environment, and a portion of the initial investment would very likely go to an advisor who could help navigate the sales/claiming arenas. The fact of the matter is, purchasing horses is not for the risk-averse and is not for someone who has expectations of making a guaranteed return. This is why the syndicate/partnership model is so popular." 

Rider says with this model investors can spread their risk, often over a number of assets, to diversify their equine portfolio to protect the full investment from a major setback to one individual. "With that said, getting involved with the right people and with the right horse can be very gratifying and extremely profitable," Rider says. "I think the racing industry, like many others, struggles with transparency with regard to public auctions. Often, insider information is prevalent and is a crucial consideration. I think for new, prospective investors, it is extremely important to get involved with people you trust, and in a situation with regard to risk that you are comfortable with. Investing in racehorses can be exciting and fruitful, but it's not for the faint of heart."

Mylor Rider and his longtime friend Craig Stephens check out Temple Tantrum, a Rider racehorse Stephens recently invested in.

Several people in Fort Thomas have invested in Rider's racehorses, including Craig Stephens. Stephens has known Rider since they were 3 years old, attending Wise Owl Preschool together. And while Rider attended Johnson Elementary and Stephens attended Moyer Elementary, the two remained friends particularly while playing sports, soccer and basketball. "His parents were like my parents, with practically every weekend spent at their house," Stephens says. In their 20s the two would often meet up at Keeneland and Churchill Downs for the Derby.

"Seeing Mylor's passion, his drive, his knowledge, and his commitment inspired me to want to get involved," Stephens says. "He truly loves horses and the sport itself. I knew Mylor would be a successful trainer, and when the opportunity presented itself to invest in a horse to be trained by him, my wife and I knew we didn't want to miss out." 

Mylor Rider and Temple Tantrum

Dr. Rider is the general partner of the partnership, which involves several people mostly from Fort Thomas. "Some people were first timers, like my wife and me, while others in the partnership were experienced," Stephens says. "In advance of the purchase, Mylor met with some of the owners in Fort Thomas so that we could get more information. He told us a bit about the horse, how this opportunity came up, why he felt Temple Tantrum was a good opportunity, as well as his plans for the filly. You could tell that Mylor knew what he was talking about and that he had high expectations for the filly." 

What makes a good trainer?

Rider likens it to being a coach. "First, one must develop a business infrastructure and a stable environment that provides a quiet, clean, relaxing place of humans and horse alike to not just succeed but to thrive," Rider says. "It is obvious when you walk into a trainer's barn: Does he/she run a tight ship or does the ship steer itself aimlessly? The best horses attract the best people to work with them, so it's very important to recruit talented individuals in both respects." Rider says it's also important to implement one's own way of operating from the very beginning. "A trainer has to be observant with a keen eye and attention to detail," he says. "He/she must be organized and able to delegate responsibility. He/she must develop exercise and feeding regimens specific to each horse so that each animal's full potential can be realized. He/she must be adaptable and willing to listen to those around him, but hake his/her own decisions. He/she is responsible for morale on a daily basis, setting the tone for the day, making those around them feel comfortable—to empower them to make decisions and to come forth with questions/concerns when necessary. A trainer has to manage expectations for individual owners, and above all, be honest and forthright with his/her assessment of each animal is his/her care."

Stephens says while Rider's background is impressive, his passion is remarkable. "His work ethic is without question," Stephens says. "At the barn around 5 a.m. every morning. Then again in the evenings for feeding time. Never taking days off. Considering all these factors, I knew Mylor would be a successful trainer. This is why my wife and I felt comfortable investing in a horse under his care."

Craig Stephens and his family pose in front of Temple Tantrum.

Temple Tantrum has raced twice since Stephens and fellow investors acquired her in July 2015. A few weeks after the first race Stephens says Rider noticed some inflammation on her front ankle, which ultimately required arthroscopic surgery. Stephens and his family have attended both races, one at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., and one recently at Turfway. "The experience is exhilarating, albeit nerve wrecking," Stephens says. "We have two young kids, almost 3 and 14 months, who love to go to the races and see the horses. It's been a great experience and we look forward to getting a few more races under her belt and hopefully breaking her maiden at Keeneland sometime this month." 

Rider says races are extremely gratifying, emotional and exciting. "We care deeply about each animal in our care, and we aim to put them in situations to succeed," Rider says. "It is difficult to win a race at any level; when we send a horse over, we are confident that they are well-prepared to compete. It just feels like a job well done and it give a trainer a great sense of pride that these animals will exhibit the amount of try required to reach the wire first." 

Of course winning races equals success, but Rider says it's also so much more. "Success looks like getting a horse from another trainer and making him a happier, healthier, more willing animal than when we arrived in our barn," he says. "Success looks like a well-taught, well-honed physical and mental specimen of a 2 year that will continue on to racing career with another trainer. Success looks like doing it the right way, not even when, but especially when no one is looking. Success is perfect preparation. The horses will take care of the rest."

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful article. You love the horses and it shows in all that you do.