Englehart Enjoying NYRA Success

January 06, 2011 04:41pm
Winning streaks are nothing new to trainer Chris Englehart, but that doesn’t make his run of seven straight victories at Aqueduct Racetrack last week any less special.


“I won nine races in a row at Finger Lakes in 1989, but I think this is more significant,” said Englehart, who is based at the Farmington, N.Y. track and competes at venues such as Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort and Presque Isle Downs, as well as maintaining a string at Belmont Park. “Winning races at the NYRA tracks is a lot tougher to do.”


Englehart – winner of 10 training titles at Finger Lakes Race Track, including the past eight – was within one victory of tying the modern-day NYRA record for consecutive triumphs by a single trainer, but fell just short of achieving history when Who’s the Cowboy finished second in yesterday’s fifth race.


The seven wins achieved by Englehart in the four-day period at Aqueduct surpassed his six triumphs on the NYRA circuit in 2008 and 2009 combined. Englehart, who took out his trainer’s license in 1973, won 16 races at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga Race Course in 2010 and will attempt to surpass that mark in 2011.


“I’ve been running more at the NYRA tracks, and I’m getting owners who are supportive of that,” said Englehart. “My assistant, Manny Gonzalez, is making it possible. He had been overseeing my horses at Belmont in the winter in recent years, and last year I had the chance to have horses there all year. He has done a great job.”


The trainer of stakes winners Frattare, Smokin Hero, and Be Bullish and is upgrading his stock as he expands his presence at NYRA’s tracks.


“I have a 3-year-old filly right now, Smokin Arties Girl, who is showing a lot of promise,” said Englehart. “My good horses aren’t the top horses on the NYRA circuit but are high claimers. We hope to change that.”


Racing is a family activity for Englehart, whose wife, Sheila, serves as one of his assistants, and whose son, Jeremiah, trains on the East Coast.


“I married into a horse family,” said Englehart. “My wife became my exercise rider and we share responsibility. When my son wanted to become a trainer, I certainly didn’t discourage him. I’ve never considered training to be work, and he has that same passion.”


Frattare, who won the 1989 Finger Lakes Breeders’ Cup, was owned and bred by his wife and was named for his mother-in-law, Mary Reed, whose maiden name was Frattare.


Sadly, Mary Reed died Sunday, the same day Englehart won his sixth and seventh consecutive races at Aqueduct.


“I’m not a very religious person, but my mother-in-law passed away a few days ago and she was a religious person,” said Englehart. “She had a stroke and went to the hospital Tuesday, the day before the winning streak began. I went back to the hospital later, and she was unconscious. She passed away on Sunday. She was probably saying a prayer for the horses. These wins are a credit to her, in a strange way.” 


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