DateFri, May 19, 2017
When Frank Passero, a brash Canadian laying siege to Gulfstream Park, saddled a record 14 straight winners in 1996, the odds of performing that feat stood roughly similar to your shot of getting hit by a meteor. In fact, a theoretical $2 parlay on those victories would have returned a staggering $7 million. Kevin Patterson's Mountaineer streak stands six short of that, by comparison, and while letting a deuce ride on that cinchy octet would merely make your car payment for the month, those eight MOVED like meteors, most leading at all calls. This ostentatious parade of speed should come as no surprise to followers of the bonafide super-trainer.
"Kevin extracts speed," said Patterson's main client, Robert Cole, who as a skilled handicapper and longtime student of the game well comprehends the advantage of shaking loose in front, even tailoring his acquisitions to fit Patterson's training style. " I don't claim closers," stated the long-successful Cole, who once led the nation in wins and made his considerable fortune in the mortgage business.
With his own best successes, like Not For Sam, Uncle Todd, and Roman Officer, each exemplifying the "catch me if you can" school of tactics, the conditioner, himself, quite agrees about his specialty. "I insist on having my horses jogged, not galloped or hurried around there, " he confided. "It sets them up to show speed." Nor does he visit the well often. " I just don't believe in running a horse every 10 days or two weeks," said Patterson, an effusive man who professes a love for animals and ranks that as his main reason for training thoroughbreds. "You keep them sound and happy, and they will reward you."
Whatever his methods, the 57-year-old resident of southern WV possesses the means to implement them. "I have a large farm, with 26 stalls, an indoor arena, and eurosizer," he said. There is also a dirt oval. Patterson does not advocate swimming, considering it a last resort with animals unable to withstand conventional training.
Patterson chuckles when asked about his relatively recent emergence as a dominant force. "My horses ran under Donna Allbright's name for a long time," he divulges with candor. "And I did pretty well."
Nor does he mince words on the topics of jealousy and suspicion, the inevitable fallout from winning "too" much. " I just tune it out," he said, with no tinge of guilt or regret. "I think I have about two friends on the whole racetrack."
Patterson's surreal batting- average (42% over the last two seasons) has, of course, drawn offers from the big-leagues to try his hand with expensive young stock. He declines with no second thoughts."I don't like to travel, and refuse to relocate, " he said. "And I prefer working with older horses that are proven winners."
Besides, training horses was supposed to be just a hobby for Patterson, who retired from his lucrative construction business in 2014. "I want to keep this fun," he said.
Despite his lack of outward pretension, neither the conditioner, nor his client, for that matter, could honestly be described as modest. There is a predatory aspect to their business model: these guys do not suffer fools, but make a point, instead, of exploiting them. Cole picks the claims (these days about 15 per-year in an operation scaled down to offset soaring costs) and cold-bloodedly targets incompetent outfits. "Look," said the 53-year-old, "lots of these clowns think this game can be learned overnight. I started betting horses when I was 11, and I still wager everyday- tons of money. That's my edge. I'm a professional-caliber handicapper," continued the rebate churner who once held title to some 250 horses. "And I just like winning."
The late Frank Passero might approve.