Byron “Scooter” Hughes is well known in Central Kentucky, especially as the trainer of the 9-year-old millionaire Rahystrada
who is expected in the Sycamore (G3) here next Thursday. This fall,
Hughes’ 27-year-old son, Byron, is at Keeneland as an assistant to
trainer Todd Pletcherr.
“I think Todd likes to send people home when he can,” the younger
Hughes said. “He thought it was probably a good spot for me to start
because I know Keeneland so well and I have a lot of friends and family
here, so it just kind of worked out. I love this place.”
Hughes, who represents the third generation of his family to be
involved in the Thoroughbred industry, graduated from Lexington Catholic
High School. He tried community college for a semester but knew “it
wasn’t for me” and dove full time into the horse business. After working
for several smaller trainers in the area, he joined his father’s
outfit, sbut the elder Hughes kept pushing him out of the nest.
“He always told me I should work for somebody bigger if I really
wanted to succeed and grow in this business,” Hughes said of his father.
“That was my comfort zone and I kind of needed to get away from it
eventually. I finally decided to go for it and here I am today, so it
was a very, very good decision.”
Last year, Hughes sent his resume to Pletcher and interviewed with
the trainer at Keeneland, coincidentally in the same barn he is running
this October. Pletcher offered him a job, and he spent the winter with
the trainer’s string at Palm Meadows in Florida. Hughes was at Saratoga
“It’s been absolutely great,” Hughes said of the experience with
Pletcher. “I started off as a foreman. I thought I knew a lot going into
it but I learned a lot immediately when I got there. I continued
working hard and they sent me here as an assistant. I couldn’t have
picked a better place. Todd is an excellent boss.”
On Oct. 5, Hughes made the boss proud when he sent out Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s We Miss Artie to win the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
“That was the first time I’ve saddled for a Grade 1 and we won,”
Hughes said. “It was amazing. There were a lot of nerves. I wanted
everything to go just right and it worked out well and we got the win.
It was a good feeling. It was good to come back here and win some
Hughes, who one day would like to go out on his own, said his father is pleased with his progress so far.
“He’s very proud of me,” Hughes said. “I’ve been working really hard for this and he knows that, and he’s glad I got it.