Vincent Stallworth thankful for Fusco’s mentorship which has led to impressive rookie results

Vincent Stallworth thankful for Fusco’s mentorship which has led to impressive rookie results

December 3, 2021

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by Chris Lomon

It’s only fitting that a conversation with Vincent Stallworth would land on Thanksgiving long weekend.

Thankful is a word often used by the New Jersey-based horseman when he describes his life in racing, one that saw him branch out on his own as a trainer in 2020.

Despite the challenges of balancing a 10-horse stable, plenty of time spent on the road, and keeping his owners happy, the convivial Stallworth is taking everything, ups, downs, and everything in between, in stride.

“It’s going pretty good, better than I thought. I have really good owners, good people around me and good people working with me. It’s a tough road, but we just try and do the best we can do. Some days, it’s about keeping your head above water, but we’ve done better than I expected.”

A pair of horses, Drazzmatazz, a trotting son of RC Royalty, and Scott Onthe Rocks, a pacing son of Pacific Renegade, have been key contributors to Stallworth’s success.

“Drazzmatazz, he races at Yonkers for $15,000, and he’s been a really nice for us. He’s made over $60,000 for us this year. Scott Onthe Rocks, he’s also done very well for us too. My brother owns him. I also have some other ones – not high-class horses – but some that fit the conditions at Freehold, who are hard-trying horses. They race hard and they pick up checks. They are all pretty nice horses. I have a nice stable and I have owners who support me. I’m very happy.”

Before going out on his own, Stallworth worked eight years for highly successful conditioner Vinnie Fusco, Jr.

Fusco, who topped the trainer standings at Freehold on multiple occasions, died at the age of 53 last March.

There’s no doubt Fusco would be proud of what Stallworth has achieved early on in the training ranks.

In his rookie season, Stallworth went 13-7-8 from 60 starts, which yielded an impressive .325 UTRS and $78,788 in purse earnings.

This year, he’s topped those numbers across the board, working hard to achieve those results.

“I think the biggest challenge is just trying to keep up with everything. It’s different when you are training from when you are grooming. There are so many things that need to be done, big details and little ones, every day. You have to keep in contact with your owners, keep up with your paperwork and keep on top of your horses. It’s all a challenge, but it’s a good challenge. It can be a 24-hour day job. You get the horses ready, race the horses, then make sure they are okay after the races. When you aren’t doing that, you are watching the races. A lot goes into just one day of work.”

Not that Stallworth is complaining about any of it.

There is, he offered, nowhere else he’d rather be.

“I’m really enjoying it. I should have done it a long time ago, but now I’m glad I did it. I did it a bad time, with the pandemic, but I really wanted to do it. When I was working with Vinnie, the more I was around it, the more I wanted to go out and be a trainer.”

Fusco’s passing still affects Stallworth.

“It hit me hard when he died. I wanted to do this because of him. He was a great inspiration to me and I have so much respect for him. He meant a lot to me and taught me a lot of things.”

One particular piece of advice Fusco passed along has stuck with Stallworth.

He’s reminded of those words each early morning he arrives on the backstretch.

“Vinnie told me, ‘Always do the best that you can do. If you do that, it’s all you can ask of yourself.’ And that’s what I try to do every single day. What that means to me is to work hard at what I do, so at the end of each day I can say that I gave the best effort I had. You’re going to have ups and you’re going to have downs. There are going to be lot of downs in this business, but the ups will always outweigh the bad times. Vinnie and I always talked about that and that’s how I look at it.

“When I win a few races, I don’t get too high and when we lose, I don’t get too down on myself. I thank God, I thank the owners, the people that work for me, and I thank the horses. We do the best we can do. That’s what I say every morning I wake up. I have great people and great help, people who work very hard. They love what they do and I love what I do.”

Just two years into his training career, Stallworth is looking to raise the number of horses he has and to have horses that can perform in the stakes ranks.

His commitment to seeing that come to fruition is undeniable.

“Long term, I want to branch out and get more horses, higher quality horses, maybe some stakes horses. I just want to expand a little more, not too much more, but have some nice, classy horses. Right now, I’m just racing claiming and condition horses, but it would be nice to have a few that race in stakes company, and maybe go on the road with them. Down the line, maybe in a year or two, it would be nice to add a few more horses to the stable. I enjoy the ones I have, but I’d like to get some higher-class ones.”

If Stallworth sounds unabashedly grateful, he most certainly is.

Armed with the advice he was given from Fusco, his late friend and mentor, Stallworth is excited to see what the future holds.

“I thank God for everything, even for the fact that we are racing with everything that’s going on in the world. I love racing. I know it’s a tiring job and a hard job, but I love every minute. I would never want to do anything else. I love working with the horses and I love the horses that I have. I can’t say much more than that. I’m very grateful.”

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