Often he stands awkwardly in the winner's circle as his owner accepts the trophies. At other times he is back in the barn as his jockey is surrounded by press and pageantry. Mostly his job is one of frustration rather than reward. Yet there would be no triumphant meeting of horse, owner and rider were it not for the efforts of the Thoroughbred racehorse trainer. His office is the stable area of any track; his day runs predawn to postdusk. From a dusty stall emitting the aromas of hay, oats, medication and manure, he directs the daily activity of the stables with only one future day in mind—race day, when he must wait, like any other fan, for the evaluation of his judgments at the finish line. The men on the following pages are among the most prominent trainers in the U.S. Photographed by Jerry Cooke in their natural surroundings, they appear happy and contented. And well they should—for most of them, horses are both their vocation and their avocation, their love and their life.
Racing's answer to Yul Brynner, Californian Charles Whittingham is a patient man whose perseverance and skill have produced such major stakes winners as Porterhouse, Mister Gus and Pretense. A trainer for 35 of his 54 years, Whittingham's big horses this season are Australian champion Tobin Bronze and Tumble Wind.
Shrewd Buddy Jacobson (above), a leader in races won in New York for several seasons, has gained his success mostly through wheeling and dealing among the cheaper claiming stock which makes up the majority of U.S. programs. A nephew of Hirsch Jacobs, he usually has about 50 horses in his public stable.
Johnny Longden may prove to be an exception to the maxim that good jockeys do not make good trainers. Now 61 and in his second year on the job, he rode a world's record 6,032 winners in 32,406 races over 40 years and still exercises many of his own horses, as he did when assisting his trainer sons Vance and Eric.
Ivy Leaguer Elliott Burch, who forsook a career in racing journalism after Yale to succeed his famous father Preston, won the 1958 Widener with Oligarchy—the first time he saddled a horse in a $100,000 race. Burch also trained Sword Dancer and upset Damascus with Paul Mellon's Fort Marcy in the 1967 Laurel International.
A hard-riding weekend polo player when he isn't working 18 hours a day for Jack Dreyfus' Hobeau Farm, Allen Jerkens has a remarkable ability to evaluate a horse's speed potential. He beat Kelso three times with front-running, race-stealing Beau Purple, used the same tactics to upset Buckpasser with Handsome Boy.
With more victories (3,558) than any other trainer in racing history, Hirsch Jacobs (right) has ample justification for his belief in running fit horses often instead of just training them. His claim of Stymie for $1,500—the horse won $918,485—is the sport's classic.
A quiet horseman of the old school, Bert Mulholland (left) has long been head trainer for racing patriarch George D. Widener. One of many satisfying achievements for him was Crewman's upset of Chateaugay and Candy Spots in Saratoga's 1963 Travers.
John Gaver taught prep school in Baltimore before he became trainer for Greentree Stable in 1930. An expert on raising camellias as well as horses, Gaver had his most gratifying success when Tom Fool won all 10 of his 4-year-old handicap starts in 1953.
Johnny Nerud, a collector of colorful caps, loves to talk about his horses, particularly if the talk concerns Dr. Fager (left) or Gallant Man, with whom he won the Belmont in 1957. Nerud is a voluble partisan of Florida breeding, a partner in Ocala's Tartan Farms.
Witty Eddie Neloy parlayed a spectacular job with a bargain horse, Gun Bow, into an even better job, training for three generations of the Phipps family. Winner of more than $4 million in purses over the past two years (much of it thanks to Buckpasser), Neloy hopes to capture his first Kentucky Derby this season with Vitriolic.
Debonair Horatio Luro abandoned the playboy-caballero life in Argentina to become a trainer renowned for ability to select young colts with potential and develop them carefully. That knack paid off with Derby winners Decidedly and Northern Dancer, may bring Luro a third champion: Go Marching, son of Princequillo.
A "country boy" from Centreville, Md., 53-year-old Frank Whiteley (above) prefers the company of horses to people. When the taciturn Whiteley does talk, he makes this kind of sense: "Keep a horse eating good to make him big and strong. You can't do much with a weak horse." He trained Tom Rolfe and Damascus.
A fixture on U.S. racetracks for more than half a century, 87-year-old Max Hirsch, trainer for Robert Kleberg's King Ranch, won the Triple Crown with Assault in 1946. Max twice won the Kentucky Derby with apprentice jockeys, the first with Ira Hanford on Bold Venture in 1936, another with Bill Boland riding Middleground in 1950.