Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: For Trainer Wyner, ‘This Is What I Was Born To Do; It’s In The Blood’

There’s nothing quite like having a potential Derby horse in the barn, and 53-year-old trainer Harold Wyner knows he’ll never go back to installing satellite television sets after saddling Capo Kane to win the Jan. 1 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

“That was just a phase,” he said, a lilting English accent giving away the Manchester native’s heritage. “I was kind of disheartened when I left, but eventually I missed getting on the horses and the thrill of it all. This is what I was born to do; it’s in the blood.”

Wyner spent four years in Florida working as a “cable guy,” but by 2010 the horses were pulling him back to the sport he’d loved since childhood. In fact, Wyner left school early to work for a steeplechase trainer in England, learning to groom and ride the racehorses from the ground up, and even tried his hand as a jumps jockey.

Wyner earned a job with champion trainer Michael Dickinson in England, and followed the renowned conditioner to the United States in the late 1980s. Wyner spent a year working for Dickinson at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, then he and his new wife moved up to Delaware and became freelance exercise riders.

The jockey bug hadn’t quite given up its hold on Wyner, though, and after whittling his weight down from 140 to 119 pounds, Wyner started riding flat races in the United States.

“I’ll tell you, I wasn’t very good at it,” Wyner said, laughing. “It just wasn’t a good fit, because I was always too weak from reducing to keep my weight under control.”

After a three-year career spanning 14 wins from 462 starts, Wyner went back to exercise riding in 1992. He moved around a bit over the next dozen years, learning as much as he could from a number of different trainers including Sam Cronk, Terry Huiet, John Scanlon, Mark Hennig, and James Bond.

By 2004 Wyner was ready to step out on his own, and he launched his stable with two horses at Philadelphia Park. Unfortunately, things didn’t take off the way he’d hoped; Wyner saddled just two winners that first year and four winners the second.

It just wasn’t enough to make a living, so Wyner stepped away from the game to regroup. When he returned to Philadelphia in 2010, it was with a renewed drive and passion for the sport.

“You know, you have to be in the right place at the right time,” Wyner said. “I’m grateful to Mr. Ted Hoover, who gave me a shot then, and I made Philly my home base because I knew the people there and it felt like home.”

That right place, right time axiom may have felt disingenuous about this time last year. Wyner trained the talented Ny Traffic through his first four starts, then watched the colt achieve multiple graded stakes placings under the care of Saffie Joseph in 2020.

Wyner had helped co-owner John Fanelli select Ny Traffic at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale, making a deal at the barn after the colt RNA’d at $27,000 in the ring.

“We decided to send him to Florida to Mr. Saffie and thank God we did because COVID hit,” said Wyner. “I told Mr. Fanelli [co-owner of NY Traffic] then that he was a Derby horse.”

Wyner cheered as Ny Traffic finished eighth in the delayed 2020 edition of the Kentucky Derby, but the blue collar trainer was already looking forward to another bargain purchase preparing for his first start.

Wyner (at right) in the winner’s circle with Capo Kane after his win in the Jerome

At the same sale in 2020, Wyner watched as a big, good-looking son of Street Sense failed to make his reserve in the ring. He was the first foal out of the unplaced Hard Spun mare Twirl Me, though his dam’s half-brother was a multiple stakes winner and his third dam was the millionaire Grade 1 winner Tuzla.

“He had great big size, this big shoulder and big hip, and he looked like the kind of horse that needed to grow into himself,” Wyner recalled. “He RNA’d at $26,000, and I told the owner we should go back and look at him to see if we could make a deal.”

Though the colt had cost $75,000 as yearling at the Keeneland September sale, COVID meant a buyer’s market by the time he’d turned two. Wyner made a deal for $26,000 — just below the colt’s reserve price of $30,000 — and was thrilled to bring him home.

“He always had a kind attitude,” the trainer said. “He showed a little talent in his breezes, staying head-to-head with everything we worked him with, and trying to get ahead of them at the finish. He has such a long stride; I’d seen it before with Mark (Hennig, in the early 2000s), how those good horses go, and he’s one of them.”

Capo Kane was second on debut, but won easily by 4 ½ lengths in his second career start despite drifting out late.

“He was kind of a big baby, really green, but from that maiden win it was like the light bulb went on his head,” said Wyner. “Now, he’s a little tougher to gallop.”

The trainer would know, as he rides the colt himself almost every day. Of his 24 head based at Parx, Wyner gallops seven to 10 horses each morning, rotating through the string so he sits on each horse at least a couple days each week.

“I train every horse a little bit different, and I can feel what is going on with them better than I can see it from the ground,” he explained. “I guess it’s kind of a European style of training, with longer, slower gallops that finish up a little stronger from mid-way through the turn to the wire. That’s where the races are won, after all.”

Capo Kane showed he’d been paying attention to his morning lessons in the Jerome, leading the field by just a half-length early on and pulling away in the stretch to win by a dominant 6 ¼ lengths over the muddy track.

“I really didn’t know how to feel when he won,” Wyner said. “I had goosebumps, it was just so incredible. I was like a kid in a candy shop.”

Up next for Capo Kane should be the Feb. 6 Withers Stakes and then on to the Gotham and the Wood Memorial. He hopes to keep the colt close to home, on the New York Road to the Kentucky Derby, but is also willing to ship him around if a different schedule proves wise.

“We’ll let the horse tell us what he wants to do,” Wyner said. “That’s the thing with these guys; if you know how to listen, you never stop learning from them.”

The post Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: For Trainer Wyner, ‘This Is What I Was Born To Do; It’s In The Blood’ appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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