Former Jockey Casey Lambert Now Finding Success As A Trainer

Land of Enchantment Day at Zia Park on November 22 will feature nine stakes with nationally prominent trainers Steve Asmussen, Larry Jones and Doug O’Neill shipping in horses for the Wednesday afternoon program.

It is also a day for New Mexico horsemen to shine and retired jockey Casey Lambert is hoping to do just that. Lambert will saddle three runners on Land of Enchantment Day. He will send out Rio Innoko in the $140,000 Eddy County Stakes for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds. The son of Precocity has won two races to date and will make his second foray into stakes company.

“We’re asking a lot of him, but he acts like he will route,” said Lambert. “Plus, I’ve got an outstanding rider in Ricardo Santana, Jr.”

Riding Career

Lambert made his riding debut at 16 and won nearly 3,400 races on Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses until he retired two years ago.

“My plan was to ride until my sons graduated from high school, but I rode a few years after that,” he explained. “My final day was September 7, which was the end of the 2015 live racing season at Ruidoso Downs. I officially retired on Labor Day.”

He had just turned 50 and did not waiver when it came time to hang up his tack and call it quits.

His career encompassed many highs, and like so many of his fellow riders, some devastating injuries and comebacks. In 2005, he was involved in a frightening spill in Texas that required a two-week hospitalization for a broken jaw and ribs as well as a punctured lung. Eight years later, another riding accident left him with a broken jaw and a compound fracture to his left arm. He underwent surgery on his wrist that required two plates and ten screws inserted.

But, in addition to the spills, there was the daily grind of having to make weight.

“I reduced my whole life,” he stated. “Every race day began with me in the box. My natural weight is around 135, but making 125 was a struggle.”

Lambert guided over 22,000 horses through his career, including Mine That Bird prior to his victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. He was the recipient of the 2016 Laffit Pincay Jr. Award, an annual honor given each year to someone who has served the horse racing industry with integrity, dedication, determination and distinction. Lambert has also been a finalist for the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.

Began Training in 2016

He began training the next year and saddled his first winner on April 13, 2016. Contradiction, a New Mexico-bred filly, was victorious in a 4 1/2-furlong sprint at Sunland Park.

In his first year, he finished with a record of 90 starts, 11 wins, 13 seconds, 14 thirds and earnings of $147,599. He was given five stalls at Zia Park last year; this year he has 33 and with six weeks to go, has already made 16 trips to the winner’s circle.

His dad, Clifford was also a jockey; winning the first All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs aboard Galobar in 1959. He has been training for 54-years and is one of the most respected conditioners in New Mexico history.

Still training these days, Cliff continues to be an inspiration to his son.

“My dad trained his whole life and has forgotten much more than I will ever know,” said Lambert. “He still gets on his pony horse to oversee his runners. Any success I have starts and ends right there with him.”

Hall of Fame Friendships

Lambert has solid connections to many people in the racing industry. He and top Quarter Horse jockey G. R. Carter have been “best of friends” for decades. On the Thoroughbred side, Lambert and Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen have known each other over 45 years.

“Steve is a phenomenal horseman,” commented Lambert. “His mind is incredible; he knows details on every horse, no matter where they are running. Ask him about a horse he trained 20 years ago, and he will rattle that off without a delay. He sends horses to my barn in New Mexico and has been a great friend.”

Asmussen ships his New Mexico stakes runners to Lambert’s barn and knows they will be well-cared for. Calumet Farms’ Hence, winner of the 2017 Sunland Park Derby, was headquartered with Lambert.

“I’ve known Casey my whole life,” said Asmussen. “He grew up in a barn, just like I did; his dad had quite a bit of success. “Casey’s very intelligent as well as a good horseman.”

“I had no idea I’d like training so much,” admitted Lambert. “I’m feeling better than I have in decades and am enjoying this part of my career immensely!”

The post Former Jockey Casey Lambert Now Finding Success As A Trainer appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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