Genaro Garcia earned his first Leading Trainer title in 2017. This year, he topped the standings again, winning his fifth title in the past seven years at the conclusion of the 2023 racing season at Horseshoe Indianapolis in Shelbyville.
Garcia’s horses won 73 races during the 123-day meet with purse earnings of more than $1.7 million. The tally marks a new record for most money earned in one season by a trainer in Horseshoe Indianapolis history.
“I want to thank everyone who made this possible,” said Garcia. “Our whole team in the barn and all the riders had a hand in this. I thank all of them for their hard work.”
Of the five titles, the win tally in 2023 is the highest for Garcia. He completes the 2023 season with 495 career wins and has now taken over the top spot on the list of all-time leading trainers. He was the only trainer to score a four-win day and added one triple and 11 doubles to his stat line.
He had many horses standout during the meet, but his two-year-olds really shined, including Molly’s Town, who was four for four on the year, including two stakes wins.
“I’m always surprised with our two-year-olds,” said Garcia. “That’s what excites me every year. They give you hope each year and it’s real exciting to see them. And you are always looking for the next two-year-old. That’s exciting. We start with our babies in September and work with them for 60 days, then we give them a break and start back with them.”
Garcia, who calls Central Indiana home, will keep some horses at Horseshoe Indianapolis for winter training and racing at Turfway, but he plans to spread out and race at other tracks, including Oaklawn and Fair Grounds. His younger horses get a break until next year’s meet, which begins April 8.
Eric Halstrom, Vice President and General Manager, and Chris Polzin, Director of Racing, made the trophy presentation to Garcia in the winner’s circle during the final program.
“This is the type of day you never forget,” added Garcia. “This is a day that is special when you win one of these (titles).”
Leading Quarter Horse Trainer
It’s hard to talk about Indiana Quarter Horse racing without including the name Tony Cunningham (photo, center). The Michigan native made a commitment to support racing in Indiana during the first year of pari-mutuel action for Quarter Horses in 1997.
The 2023 season saw him win his first Leading Quarter Horse Trainer title at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Although he is the state’s all-time leading Quarter Horse owner, Cunningham had never secured a leading trainer title. He has finished second nine times since 2008 and is ranked second on the list of all-time leading Quarter Horse trainers with 339 wins and more than $7.5 million in earnings.
He holds several Quarter Horse owner records for most wins by an owner in one season, and has garnered three titles in that category, showing the depth of his success over the past 27 years.
“This title means so much and I can’t do any of this without our team,” said Cunningham. “It’s definitely a team effort and this is the best year we have ever had for Quarter Horses. This team has been a blessing.”
One of the main components of the Cunningham team is assistant Salvadore Villalobos, who oversees operations during the meet at Horseshoe Indianapolis while Tony and his wife, Lisa, keep the horses at their farm in Michigan going.
“Salvadore works hard,” added Cunningham. “We try to keep the horses that don’t ship well at the track and then rotate the others in and out. He’s a big part of that, and he oversees it very well. We took him to Detroit to complete all the steps and he is now a U.S. Citizen. He’s been with us for 13 years now, and we rely on him a lot in the barn.”
In all, the Cunningham barn has 13 employees between two locations. Although they have always had a few Thoroughbreds, this season saw them soar to new heights in that category as well, scoring several stakes wins during the season with the Thoroughbreds in their operation.
Cunningham was joined by several members of his team, including Villalobos, for the Leading Quarter Horse Trainer award prior to the last Quarter Horse race of the season. It was only fitting their horse, Credible, ridden by Martinez, was the final winner of the meet, boosting Cunningham to 36 wins and more than $1.2 million for the season.
He was the only trainer to top $1 million this year at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
It was another successful year for the partnership of Roger Spiess and Randy Klopp. The duo teamed up for their third straight leading owner title to close out the 2023 racing season at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
Running under the name Spiess Stable LLC and Randy Klopp, the ownership duo scored 33 wins from 168 starts with purse money of more than $834,000. It was their second highest tally for purses as they set a new record for most purse money scored by a Thoroughbred owner last year of $986,241.
“This is absolutely great (winning another owner title),” said Klopp. “We couldn’t do this without great help in the barn and without Roger buying us nice horses at the sales.”
Both Spiess and Klopp also thanked assistant trainer Amara Kranz for her hard work as well.
“Randy and his crew did a great job again,” added Spiess. “Our partnership goes well beyond 20 years and the entire barn works hard. A special thanks goes out to everyone in the barn and all the jockeys. It was another great year.”
Leading Quarter Horse Owner
The final Quarter Horse race of the season was contested on Nov. 16 and two ladies could not be separated atop the Leading Quarter Horse Owner standings. Jessi Vazquez and Pattie Marshall each completed the meet with eight wins to share the title.
Vazquez (photo, fifth from right) established new records in the trainer standings last season for the Quarter Horse ranks. Her success carried over to the owner standings this season as she earned eight wins as a owner with $123,000 in purse earnings.
“We had a rough start to the meet, so I guess it’s been the worst best year ever,” said Vazquez. “The year turned around for us. As they say, when God shuts one door another one opens. We have great owners and we want to thank all of them for helping us have a great year as a team.”
Vazquez and her husband, Giovani Vazquez-Gomez, work side by side everyday in the barn. They met in Marengo, Ill. when Giovani served as the jockey for Jessi’s father’s horses. They have been together for 10 years and have four children, Zuria, Giovani Jr., Miranda, and seven-month-old Ismael. Jessi noted he was born the day before the 2023 racing season started in April, and she watched her first race of the year from her hospital bed.
“I’m so honored to win this award,” said Jessi. “Our racing stable is a family operation. Everyone is related to us. A lot of the people are Gio’s cousins. And we have to send a special thanks to Hugo Macias. He works horses in the mornings and although he doesn’t get to ride as much as we wish he could, he works so hard. He’s a big part of our team.”
Along with Vazquez, Pattie Marshall (photo, center with blue coat) earned honors as the co-Leading Quarter Horse Owner of the Meet. Marshall is the owner of the year’s top Quarter Horse, Red Headed Beach, who won six races. Although she isn’t at the track a lot due to her commitment to barrel racing, she has been a long-time owner and supporter of Indiana racing. She and her husband, Brad, have several horses involved in racing and are also in the breeding industry as well. Marshall completed the season with eight wins and more than $400,000 in purse earnings for a stellar year on the track.
Pattie and her husband, Brad, were in attendance for Red Headed Beach’s win in the Miss Roxie Little Futurity during Indiana Champions Day. Although she has had several top 10 finishes in the past five years in the Quarter Horse Owner standings, this marks the first title for her at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
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