Chad TOREVELL has some huge shoes to fill.
When Martin Drexler, trainer of the year in 2007, decided to ply his skills at Woodbine this season, Torevell, 35, inherited the care of Monsoon Rain, the 2008 Manitoba Horse of the Year.
The bay colt, owned by Larry Carter, won five in a row including the Wheat City Stakes, the R. J. Speers Memorial and the Gold Cup, capturing the triple crown of stakes for older horses at Assiniboia Downs.
So far this year, Torevell's horses have not hit the wire, with only three seconds and three thirds, including Monsoon Rain's third over five furlongs on May 15. Torevell isn't concerned that the son of Trieste-Smokey Mirage by Holy Bull didn't win this early, "He pressed pace, but we didn't expect to see him flash that much speed. At a mile or more I believe he will really perform well."
He is, however, a little upset that his horses have only hit the board six times. "I had a couple of poor performances this weekend, but I know the wins will come eventually.
"This is a tough business. If you look at the national average for trainers, you only win 10 per cent of the time," he said philosophically. "Ninety per cent of the time you are supposed to lose. Last year we were around 15-18 per cent (135 starts, 18 wins, 15 seconds and 22 thirds). So we're off to a little bit of a slow start, but I'm looking for more success around the middle of June when the horses really start to run well."
Torevell may have an ace up his sleeve. Investor's Gamble (Arnason Farms and Cam Ziprick), is an older horse that didn't run last year. In 2007, he ran four times winning all four races, including once against Monsoon Rain. "He had some foot issues so we weren't able to run him last year," Torevell explained. "With corrective shoeing, we've at least got him back to where he's worked three times now. I'm looking for him to be competitive at a certain level, but less than what he used to be."
One on One is another horse he's eager to turn loose. As a two-year-old he won the CTHS Sales Stakes last year. "He's one of my best chances in a Manitoba stakes race. We also have a number (of promising) two-year-olds laying in the weeds that we're ready to unleash."
Torevell was born into a racing family. "My mother (Patty) used to train horses in the bushes (unrecognized tracks) in South Dakota and Wyoming," he said, "and my dad (Clay) used to be a jockey. He rode mostly in South Dakota. I actually wanted to be a jockey, and rode in the bushes for a few years. I'm not disappointed that I didn't make it as a jockey, because I found something else I really enjoy. I get to ride horses every morning. I get to exercise them, and that gets me my highs."
Torevell has some tough competition in the likes of Ardell Sayler, Emile Corbel and Jared Brown. "It doesn't really matter who's here and who's not. You still have to prepare your horses for the races, and you have to win with what you've got. Sure, they have more experience than me, but we hold our own."
When it comes to horses, Torevell can't get enough of the magnificent beasts.
"I mean, walking in and seeing them, to me they are beautiful creatures," he said. "Even the ones that aren't so pretty, I still like to be around them."