by Chris Lomon
There’s no doubt that Troy Beyer’s racing IQ is off the charts.
When you have worked – and do work – with some of standardbred racing’s most accomplished names, you’re bound to learn some invaluable lessons along the way.
Beyer, 25, who has worked for high-profile trainers Nancy Takter and Brett Pelling, as well as Andy and Julie Miller, is currently second trainer for Noel Daley.
The native of Crete, IL, who also drives, continues to be a willing student of the sport.
“Everybody has their own way of doing things, so being with so many different people, I can’t really say everyone does everything the same. The best thing that you can do is to just try and take in everything, and listen. Everyone has their own style and approach, which allows you to pick up valuable things here and there. I would say that it’s not just trainers that you learn from. Other drivers, grooms – you can learn a lot of different things from different people. The more you can take in, obviously, the better off you’re going to be.”
It’s a philosophy that has served Beyer well.
“You really can learn something new every day. That should actually be the motto of horse racing because it’s certainly true.”
It was Beyer’s father, a former standardbred trainer himself, who helped lay the groundwork for his son to join the harness racing ranks.
When Troy was 13, his father asked if he’d be interested in training a horse, Casino Comp — a pacing daughter of Final Cheers, bred in Illinois by Thundermint Farms — at the small farm they were at in Illinois.
The youngster needed little encouragement to sit in the race bike. And when he did, he knew exactly what he wanted his full-time job to be.
“For me, driving is the thing I like to do the most,” said Beyer, who drove Casino Comp to victory on June 25, 2014, at Balmoral. “It’s always a big adrenaline rush. It’s always a lot of fun. Even if you don’t win, the feeling that you get from being out there is amazing. But, of course, it’s always better when you cross the line first.”
Beyer readily recalls his milestone first win.
The victory, on May 25, 2013, at Balmoral, came with Come N Bet It, a son of Intrepid Seelster bred in Lucan, ON, by Seelster Farms.
“That was actually a lot of fun for me. My dad and I claimed him off a friend of ours. We claimed him at Balmoral and that horse really taught me a lot, including patience. He was a stone-cold closer and he was great at Balmoral because they have a quarter-mile long stretch. You basically could sit in with him until the three-quarter pole, and then pull him out into the middle of the racetrack and he’d just fly home. He was a lot of fun. He’s a horse that you could always count on. He had a lot of soreness issues, but he was just a horse with a big heart.”
After a sophomore season in which Beyer won 11 races from 209 starts, he posted seven wins in limited action in the sulky from 2015-2017.
Two years ago, he had his breakout campaign, winning 16 races in the sulky. In 2019, the number rose to 24.
Despite the temporary pause to live racing this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Beyer, who is back working with Daley since the Hambletonian-winning [Broad Bahn, 2011] conditioner returned to the United States from Australia last year, is hopeful he can set career-best numbers across the board in 2020.
“Things are going very well. Knock on wood, all our babies that we got out of Lexington and Harrisburg – even some other ones people have sent us – they’re all doing very well at this stage. It looks like we could have a nice year in Sires Stakes, and races like that. We have 23 [horses], but our whole side of the barn is full. I also have one horse of my own that I train and drive. My wife [Katie Gangell-Beyer] actually has a horse in the barn, so it’s a family affair.”
Although he’s plied his trade at numerous horse racing hot spots, Beyer, who now calls Bordentown, NJ home, is still learning more about the craft, both as a trainer and a driver.
Upping his game remains a top priority.
“I think having gone through some very influential and successful barns, you appreciate the effort and the dedication you need to succeed, and the need to keep pushing yourself. In this business, there are plenty of ups and downs. You enjoy the happy moments, and you learn from the tough ones. The most important thing is to always strive to be better, keep your eyes and ears open, and be open to learning.”
Beyer hopes his continuing education pays off with more driving opportunities.
Getting those chances, however, can be, at times, a difficult task.
“The biggest challenge for me, as a driver, is just trying to get drives and maintain drives. It kind of hurts me a bit when we have breaks. I drive at Yonkers quite a bit and every time they close down for a break, it usually takes me two or three months before I start getting drives again. Going to qualifiers each week is very important any young guy starting out. You have to make sure you go to those qualifiers and be ambitious. You’re not going to pick up horses sitting on a couch at home.”
Not a problem for Beyer, who continues to strive to be at the head of the class.
“You have to show up and put in your time. The ultimate goal would be to drive full-time, primarily. I’d like to have a barn of my own some time in the next few years, to have both racehorses and babies. Racehorses are great to have around, but I really enjoy working with the babies. That’s the biggest thrill in the business. You guide them along, help them learn, and watch them go on to do well.”
It’s a cherished role for Beyer, and one where the standardbred student is happy to be the teacher.