Christy Markos – woman of many hats

by Victoria Howard

Christy Markos was destined to live an interesting life from the very beginning. When she was born, her parents named her after Chris Noel, an actress who jumped out of planes into combat zones in Vietnam to entertain the troops. Noel also appeared in several movies with Elvis Presley, whom she also dated.

Born on Christmas day, fate would play a big part in Chris Noel Markos’ life.

The Markos family lived at 3536 McGregor Lane; her school was at 3535 McGregor Lane. McGregor School was named after Robert McGregor. In the late 1800s, a yearling trotter named Cresceus(sired by Robert McGregor out of Mabel) became sick and was ordered destroyed. His handler refused to euthanize him and hid the horse until he recovered. During his racing career, Cresceus would go on to set 17 world records.

Little did little Markos know, but her life would be surrounded with horses and the sport of horse racing.

As a young child, Markos was enamored with the equines so much she drove her parents crazy.

“I was 20 or 21 years old when I met an Amish defector who owned several horses at Raceway Park in Toledo, Ohio. When he asked me if I wanted to go see the horses, I jumped at the chance.

“After watching the horse races, I was hooked. I was also fascinated with the backstretch, for it reminded me of a little horse town. When he asked if I wanted to come back the following day I said, ‘I’ll be there.’ That was the beginning of the happiest times in my life.

“A short time later I met a woman in Michigan who owned a farm and some thoroughbreds. She taught me how to ride and pony and I started filling in for outriders and rode some at a local show barn called Hunters Run.

“In 1999, I relocated from Michigan to New Jersey and got a job at White Birch Farm taking care of a filly named Woodsie and Buster — a fractious filly who for some reason loved me.”

Markos has worked for some of the best trainers in the sport, including: Bob Bencal, Brett Bittle, Jake Huff, Sam DePinto, Chris Ryder, Dave Elliot, Arild Eggen, Herman Heidtman, Greg Peck, and others.

“I worked at Golden Gait Farm that was owned by Jackie Hunterfund. Helen Goddard was the trainer. At that time Golden Gait was a hunter/jumper facility. Both women became good friends of mine, and taught me a lot about riding and showing.

“I also worked for Stacey Romano at Scenic View Farm where she ran a stallion station. It was my first experience in collecting stallions and inseminating mares. Currently, Stacey is a state vet at Freehold Raceway.”

At one time Markos was also employed at Sundowner Farm: a layup, turnout, breeding facility located in Robinsville, NJ.

“When I worked at Sundowner Farm I took care of some really good horses, such as Sugar Trader, Power to Charm, Red Bow Tie and others.

“At that time, the best horse there was harness racing’s superstar, Foiled Again, who I jogged and cared for every day as a 3-year-old, before he was sold to the Burkes. (At that time ‘Foiled Again’ was trained by Hermann Heidtman.)

“One day sitting on a bench in front of the barn, Hermann asked if I wanted to work for him. He said, ‘You know, I’ve got a really nice racehorse named Foiled Again. I’ll let you jog and care for him,’ and I did. I feel so blessed to have been in some way connected to this champion.”

Today, Markos works for the Burke stable.

“I love working for the Burkes. I like to coin my boss, Ron Burke, as the Aiden O’Brien of harness racing because he knows all of his horses and employees. He might have a mass volume of horses, but somehow manages all of it and he never stops. Ron also has a great eye selecting horses and knows where to classify them.”

Markos said Stan The Man is her favorite horse, but Merchandiser holds a spot in her heart, too.

“At one time, I stood Merchandiser (a son of Muscle Hill), collected him, processed the semen, and shipped it. I also inseminated the mares.

“I was blessed to have been trained by Dr. Daniel Jou and Doug Nash — the two best fertility experts in Ontario — maybe even Canada. It came in handy when I stood Merchandiser.

“Not bad for a Waite High School undergrad who at one time was told she wouldn’t even be qualified to mop floors at a fast food restaurant.”

As for Stan The Man, he’s a half-brother to leading sire Father Patrick. Stan The Man earned nearly $250,000 and made nearly 200 starts. When his racing career ended, Stan The Man was gifted to Markos by Peck.

“Last year at 13 years old, I showed Stan at the National Standardbred show. We had a great time, but he was quite nervous. He needs a lot of educating and practicing, but I know we will get there.

“Besides Stan and Merchandiser, I owned Cambridge when he won six in a row. I also owned and cared for U S Marshall (who won the first Kentucky Sire Stake over the Red Mile), Gentleman Jim, High Society and Reach The Peak.

“It’s been a tough year, personally, but I love the place I’m at in my life now and am just trying to grow.

“If I’m not at the races I spend my evenings at home relaxing with Pablo, my 13 year old blue heeler border collie mix, and my mini dachshund Gracey, enjoying a glass of wine while Stan patiently waits outside of my window for his night treats— carrots.

“At some point I would like to have my own stable again, but in the meantime, I love where I work and know the best is yet to come.”