Cooling Out With ... Mike Medors
Moore County’s recent cold snap didn’t faze standardbred trainer Mike Medors, a native of Pataskala, Ohio, who considers anything above 30 degrees balmy.
For the 16th-straight winter, Medors and his stable of pacers and trotters have taken up residence at the Pinehurst Harness Track. Medors, 58, currently has 37 horses in his barn, with 14 more expected to ship in next week. The standardbreds will be training in Pinehurst through the first week in April. Workouts are open to the public.
Q: How did you get involved in harness racing?
A: When I was at college (Ashland College in Ohio) my roommate had some horses. When I graduated I went to work for his dad part time. That was 35 years ago. The first place I trained was at The Meadows in Washington, Pa.
Q: Do you remember your first win as a driver?
A: Sure do. It was in 1976, with a 2-year-old colt named Win Jon at the county fairgrounds in Caldwell, Ohio.
Q: What circuit do you follow?
A: We used to be focused on the Ohio Sire Stakes and the county fairs. Now, Ohio racing is going under because they won’t allow slots at the track.
I have horses everywhere. I have 10 or 12 horses racing at The Meadows in Pennsylvania right now. I had horses racing in Toronto and Ontario that I brought back here for a winter break, and we race some in Indiana and Kentucky. In the summer we go to Lebanon and Scioto Downs (in Ohio).
Q: Do you think harness racing can benefit from slot machines?
A: Oh, yeah. It’s the only thing to help us out. You hate to do it because you’d like to make it on your own product but that’s why the entertainment dollar is spread so thin. And the best place to have slots is where people are already gambling.
Q: What’s the benefit of spending the winter in Pinehurst?
A: Most of the horses here are 2 and 3-year-olds and babies we just broke. We come down here to train the young ones to let their bones develop on a track that never freezes. Ohio ground freezes solid … sometimes it freezes up to 26 inches deep and that takes a long time to go away. Training on frozen ground is kind of hard on them.
Q: Who’s the best horse you’ve ever had?
A: I’ve had some pretty good ones. I co-owned the 2007 Ohio Pacer of the Year, KF St. Patrick. I’ve had some good ones come out of one of the top breeding farms in Ohio. I have one filly in the barn now who was second in the Jugette. Her name’s Seriously … she ran a 1:50.04 mile.
Q: Why do you think the times in standardbred racing are so much faster now?
A: I think the breed has gotten stronger. We broke 32 horses this year and none of them had any physical problems on them. The way the racing itself has changed — they started leaving the gate lined up all together and then sprinted a mile to the end — has made them faster.
When you’ve got them on a sprint the whole time that makes them faster. The tracks and equipment are a lot better now, too. One big thing is the way the bike is attached to the horse now … it used to be you had to tie them to the bike so going around a turn they were kind of limited how fast they could take it.
Now we have a “quick hitch” — you just snap into a pin on each side of the horse and it frees them up so they can move and the bike doesn’t move with them.
Q: Who’s the best horse you’ve ever seen?
A: Has to be Muscle Hill (trotter who won 20 straight races in 2009). He was probably the best. You could just look at him and tell he was a great horse.
Q: Any Muscle Hills in your barn right now?
A: Well, I’ve got some good 3-year-olds coming back. The 2-year-olds are all doing real good. Don’t know if any of them will be champions yet … you just hope they’ll be.
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