Partner of the Month - October
John Haines is the October Spotlight Partner.
Who are your current horses with West Point?
Tropic Storm, who, I'm excited to say, appears headed for the Breeders' Cup. Also, Cat On The Line, Wincat, and Like A Butterfly.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Pennsylvania horse country, out in Chester County, but live now with my family in southern New Jersey, coincidentally about a mile from the WPT office.
Have you owned horses before?
Yes, but steeplechasers and eventing horses, not flat racers until WPT.
How / why did you want to become an owner?
About five years ago I decided to act on a long-time interest in becoming an owner, having recently sold my operating businesses and semi-retired to life as a private investor. I like the partnership approach because it allows an owner to diversify and spread risk, and to work with professional management on the business side of the sport, for example, financial reporting and the like. I'd been investigating several partnership opportunities, and in 2004, read an article about Terry and WPT in the local paper, so I contacted him. I knew right away that WPT was a good fit for me, both with respect to a shared approach and objective on the racetrack, and with respect to Terry and the team.
What attracts you to a horse?
Instinct, I suppose. With sport horses and warm bloods, breeding is far less important than it is with thoroughbreds intended for the racetrack. I watch the way a horse moves and look for conformation, and only focus on breeding as a secondary factor. I ran track for years as a sprinter, so like to think that there is a common element to recognizing who has speed and who doesn't. Or at least that's my theory.
Do you remember your first trip to the track?
Sure, most of my early experience was brush and timber races--- local hunt races, and bigger ones like the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, Fair Hill, and the like. Racing over fences is what first brought me to the racetrack, at Saratoga. It's probably why I still prefer turf to dirt.
Who was your first horse?
My first WPT horse was Get Down, a Canadian bred who took us all the way to the Queen's Plate. He had a really wild look about him and a running style to match, as befits a horse from Manitoba. My children absolutely loved him.
Who was your first winner?
Get Down was my first WPT winner. I believe he won his first race.
Do you have any superstitions on race day or with your horses?
No, my wife is the superstitious one, although I do have the somewhat embarrassing habit of shaking out my legs as the horses go into the starting gate, like I'm about to get in to the starting blocks. Fortunately, most people are watching the horses, not me. I guess it is the adrenalin.
Who is your favorite all-time horse (maybe top three)? Why?
That's a hard question. I suppose Go For Wand, who ran with more heart than any other horse I've ever seen. Second, a less well-known horse, Silver Survivor, a real scrapper who ran the same way, and always came from way, way off the pace. And third, an obvious choice: Secretariat.
Who is your favorite all time jockey?
I'm pretty keen on Aaron Gryder, who rides Tropic Storm. An old horseman who is a friend, one of the many successful trainers who started off with quarter horses, first told me about Aaron when he was just starting out, back in the 1980's. He said Aaron was one of the best natural talents he'd ever seen. Time has proven him right.
Who is your favorite all time trainer?
Probably Jonathan Sheppard.
What is your favorite track?
Saratoga, of course, and Delaware Park, which have the nicest paddocks, along with Belmont, which has great atmosphere.
What is your favorite race?
If I had to pick one type of race, I'd probably go with a turf sprint.
Who is your favorite West Point horse? Why?
Right now, it is Tropic Storm.
If you could win any race, which would it be?
Any Breeders' Cup race, which is truly the greatest day in racing and a thrill to attend. The purse for the Classic is awfully compelling but the long turf race would be my sentimental choice. American tracks needs to bring back long distances, like the Europeans run, to give older horses the opportunity to stay in the sport.