by Chris Lomon
There’s a chance that Tim Lane could have excelled as a football player, but the gridiron’s loss is standardbred racing’s gain.
It was during the course of a conversation with the man who had recruited Lane to play U.S. collegiate football when the horseman was asked about assembling a winning team of racehorses.
“I trained some horses for some of the coaches at Bowling Green, including Steve Devine, who recruited me to play there,” Lane said. “He went on to be a scout for the New York Giants. Typically, we throw around the terminology from athletes to horses because there are a lot of comparisons. We were having lunch one time and he asked me, ‘What makes a trainer successful with these babies?’ And I told him, ‘If you could have the first 10 picks in every draft…’” He stopped me and said, ‘Well, you’d be pretty successful.’ But you can’t have that. Some of the bigger trainers have a little bit of an advantage, so you just have to do your homework and pick the best ones you can.”
Foxy Rigger would be a prime example of Lane’s penchant for discovering top talent in the later rounds, so to speak.
The daughter of Riggins, bred by Wilker Family Farms [OH], caught the attention of Lane at the 2018 Buckeye Yearling Sale.
“I paid $5,000 for her. She was the only Indiana-bred in the Ohio Sale. I’m not sure how she got in there, but she caught my eye and as they say, the rest is history.”
Foxy Rigger was a pacing sensation as a 2-year-old, fashioning a 7-2-0 mark from nine starts while boasting an impressive bankroll.
“I trained her down, qualified her a few times, and a very good friend of mine, [trainer] Brian Brown, approached me about buying her for his owners. I kept a good chunk of her. She won about $220,000 at 2, but didn’t come back as good at 3. It was a real pleasure to watch her race at 2 in the Indiana Sires Stakes. She’s now a broodmare for Country Club Acres.”
The bay is just one of several success stories for Lane.
A prosperous winter campaign has carried over into the spring. In fact, Lane already has more wins this year than he did in 2020.
“We have a nice group of mares that are racing mainly in the upper classes, which is a good problem to have. We have three or four of them that have worked their way up into the open ranks. We’ve had them competing at Hoosier Park and Miami Valley, so we had a good winter.
“Sweet Filly has been a really good one for us. She won three in a row at Miami Valley and went to Hoosier and raced really well there. She won an open 2 at Hoosier in 1:50.3 on April 17.”
Pansys Image, a 5-year-old daughter of Rockin Image [IN], is another mare that comes to mind for Lane.
Bred and owned by Emerald Highlands Farm, of Mount Vernon, OH, the bay has been a model of consistency throughout her career.
“Pansys Image might be the hottest one in the barn right now. She’s had some horrible racing luck, but she’s a really nice one.”
As is Can B Perfect, the last foal out of Perfect Gesture, whose offspring includes accomplished pacers Dave Panlone, Long Live Rock, and Perfect Panderosa.
In 2019,the son of Big Bad John, owned by James Stambaugh and Lane, breezed to a Scioto Downs track record clocking of 1:51.2 in the first of three $40,000 Ohio Sires Stakes for 2-year-old pacing colts.
“I’ve been lucky to have had some really nice horses since I began training. I also have a great team, including my grooms,Ali Hudson and Lily Spurlock. It’s hard to be successful without a good supporting cast. I’m thankful for them.Hopefully, we can continue to be successful.”
If he had any trepidation about joining the training ranks in 2011, Lane certainly doesn’t anymore.
Contentment is par for the course these days.
“My family has been in the industry for a long time. I was in it as a kid, but then high school came, and then I went on to play football at Bowling Green, so I got away from horse racing for a time. After school, I got into the golf course business – in golf course construction, and as a superintendent – and I did that for 19 years. I owned horses with Jimmy Arledge, my cousin, pretty much the whole time, but the golf business ended up taking a turn.
“Being a trainer is something I always wanted to do. I actually worked for Brian Brown for about a year and he had a big operation. Then I started from there. Brian left a couple horses when he went to Florida and I ended up picking up some new owners. I have some great owners. Bruce Trogdon always gives me around eight or 10 horses. I’ve had a lot of luck with Bruce’s horses, including Warp Factor Three and Dragons Successor. Spring Haven Farm, we’ve put a little group together. They’re in the baby business, so we race some 2-year-olds for them.”
Lane’s game plan for standardbred success continues to pay off handsomely.
Goals, short and long term, are ever-changing.
Consider them horse racing’s version of calling an audible.
“It always varies. I just like to be successful with the group we have. I’m happy if I do it the right way and have success doing it that way. That’s the main thing. Hopefully we can win some Sires Stakes and be competitive on the Ohio circuit. I think we have horses that compete. I have 20 total right now, and we are looking to branch out a bit. We’re looking to race in Pennsylvania and see how that goes. That’s something to look forward to.”
Lane will also look to keep his sound game plan skills sharp.
After all, tackling the art of adding talent to his racing roster is a proven skill.
“I like that challenge, to go to a sale and see what is available. When you find one that you think can be a good addition to the team, and it all works out, that’s a pretty great feeling.”