Meegan Sattelberg — caretaker

by Victoria M. Howard

If you are involved in harness racing, you’ve most likely heard the name ‘Buter,’ for Terry, Tim, and Todd have been prominent names in the racing scene.

Years ago, Terry was in Michigan and Tim was in Pennsylvania. Today, Terry and Tim are semi-retired, but the legacy continues with brother Todd and his son Tyler who race mainly on the east coast and Terry’s daughter, Meegan Sattelberg, is a long-time horseperson now working as a caretaker.

“I was born and raised in Michigan and spent most of my youth in a barn. My father Terry trained and drove standardbreds and my mother Dixie was an outrider at Jackson and Wolverine Raceway,” Sattelberg said.

“As a child my sister, Kris, and I showed horses so I was on top of one long before I sat behind one. As I started to get more interested in the racehorses, I really enjoyed it. I’m sure I tortured my dad’s help by being in the way, asking questions, and rolling stall bandages backwards.

“A lot of horsemen lived close by us, such as Gerry Bookmeyer and Chris Boring. Gerry’s stepson, Jimmy Morand, and I grew up together. During summer vacation, uncles Tim and Todd would come up from St. Clairsville, Ohio, and the three of us would help mom and dad in the barn.

“When I graduated from high school, Todd and I got a place together in Northville. I got a job working for Lee Sattelberg who I later married. We primarily raced in Michigan and the colt stakes program there. We had some really nice horses such as Lightning Mick, Keystone Hylo, Super Dev, and my all-time favorite, Patriot Lobell — a free-legged pacer by Adios Vic out of Prelude Lobell.”

It’s not easy being married and in the business as it can take a toll on your marriage. The long hours, too much time together, raising a family, and bringing your problems home can be overwhelming.

“After my divorce I went to The Meadows in Washington, PA and worked for trainers Greg Wright and Mike Palone. When I worked for Mike he sent me to Illinois with Ramilette Hanover to race. She got sick, thus I was delayed in returning to The Meadows. Trainer Joe Anderson asked if I wanted to work for him and I said yes so I remained in Illinois. Shortly later, Joe sent me to Jersey. After working for Joe, I worked for Joe Holloway, Linda Toscano, and Bill Popfinger.”

While working for Popfinger, Meegan relocated to south Florida.

“When I came to Florida I started dating trainer Fred Grant. Fast forward 14 years — I‘m still with Fred and we currently have 17 horses in the barn. Although I’ve worked for some really good trainers, I have to say I’ve learned the most working with Fred.

“I also really admire Chuck Sylvester. I’ve known Chuck since I was a kid and he is one of the most knowledgeable horsemen I know. Even Fred’s not too proud to ask for Chuck’s advice.

“The success Chuck has had throughout the years is a testament to his talent, knowledge, and ability. Even with all his success, he’s never changed. He’s a wonderful person, as is his wife Sharon.”

Throughout the years, Sattelberg has cared for some pretty nice horses for Fred and their owners.

“I’ve been lucky to have taken care of several Kentucky Sires Stake final winners, such as Debbie Hall, Felicity Hall, Sorrento Hall and Jayne Eyre. Probably one of my all time favorite memories and highlights in the business is when I shipped to The Meadows and won two divisions of the Keystone Classic with Groom Hanover and Decolletage.

“Last year, Explosive Breakaway, a trotter I take care of won a division of the Keystone Classic, his division of the Liberty Bell as a 2- and 3-year-old (never missed a check and hit the board every time but one when he finished fifth due to a layoff) as well as being very competitive in the Pa. Sires Stakes. He is the best horse I’ve taken care of for Fred.

“Although I don’t train, it’s my job and goal to take the best possible care of the horses I’m in charge of. It’s very important to watch everything — a leg that’s filled, changes in behavior to not eating, etc. I feel it’s my responsibility for I’m the one who spends the most time with them.

These days I’m not out on the racetrack hardly at all, but when I was younger you couldn’t get me off. I did it all: jog, train and warm up. Now I prefer to stay in the barn, taking care of the horses and keeping on top of things.”

As far as women in the business, Meegan thinks they get more credit today than they did back in the days of the great Bea Farber.

“I think women are taken more seriously today. You have trainers like Linda Toscano, Nancy Takter, Julie Miller and Casie Coleman who all have had great success. It’s great seeing them get the recognition and glory they deserve.”
Meegan sees her family regularly as her parents still own a few horses and have the farm in Michigan.

“With the state of harness racing in Michigan, I was glad to see my cousin, Tyler, and his wife Amber move out east. I was also glad that Uncle Todd and his wife Lynette decided to do the same. They have enjoyed great success and I’m Tyler’s #1 fan.”