Trainer Ronnie Moawad is hitting on all cylinders

by Chris Lomon

Whether it’s in the auto shop or on the racetrack, Ronnie Moawad brings attention to detail, a strong ethic and a winning attitude to whatever he does.

When he’s not working as a full-time mechanic at his brother’s garage, the 36-year-old Moawad is typically driving to various racetracks throughout the U.S. Midwest, looking for success as a standardbred trainer.

Does the Detroit native see any similarities between the differing interpretations of horsepower?

“As a mechanic, you are looking to make sure everything runs smoothly and that whatever needs to be addressed is done so that the car is performing at peak condition,” Moawad said. “With the horses, it’s the same thing. You want them to be sound and healthy, and able to be at their best when they are on the racetrack.”

Moawad has fared well in both careers.

He launched the racing side in 2019, a year in which his starters went 2-2-2 from 15 races.

Both victories in his rookie campaign came courtesy of Rock A Hula Baby, a daughter of A Rocknroll Dance—I Had A Ball.

The milestone first win came at Northville Downs on Oct. 18, 2019, a 1-length triumph with Richard Ray in the race bike.

“It was an awesome feeling,” Moawad said. “Racing is more of a hobby for me, but I approach it as if it is a full-time job. So, to get that first win; a lot of hard work went into it. That was a very satisfying moment. It definitely took me back to my childhood days when I first discovered racing.”

A young Moawad was instantly captivated by what he saw on the racetrack.

“When I was young, my father would go to Hazel Park,” Moawad said of the Michigan oval that closed in 2018 after 69 years of operation. “I would tag along with him a lot of the time. I just loved going, seeing all the horses up close and watching all the action. It was something that captured my attention right away.”

It also stayed with him.

“I was hooked since the first time I went,” Moawad said. “You never know how things will turn out later in life, but something told me I would be involved in some way at a certain point in time.”

With the help of Larry McCarty, a horseman his father had met in the 1970s, Moawad realized that long-held dream.

“I used to go out to Larry’s farm in the summertime and work with the horses,” Moawad said. “I was hooked. When my dad passed away, I ended up moving out to Webberville, to Larry’s farm, and he basically adopted me. We’ve worked together for years, and he’s taught me everything I know. He retired about two years ago, but I’m where I am because of what he taught me.”

One of the lessons learned was the need to have a discerning eye for picking out horses.

It appears Moawad earned top marks as an eager and open-minded student.

Dandys World, a 3-year-old son of World Of Rocknroll—More Diamonds, is a perfect example of what he learned from McCarty.

Originally sold for $10,000 at the 2021 Land of Lincoln Sale, the gelding caught Moawad’s attention as he was perusing onGait, the online horse sale website.

“I bought him in May for $5,400,” Moawad said. “He’s big and black, and he’s out of a great sire. I took a risk. He had four starts in 2022 and didn’t hit the top three. I got him on the farm and turned him out. He was very shy, but we worked with him, and he’s turned around a bit. He’s made me just over $22,000, so that makes me happy. Watching him develop and become more comfortable has been nice to see. I thought if I could figure him out, he could turn into a nice horse.”

When it came to working with Dandys World, he recalled other words of wisdom dispensed by McCarty.

“A horse has to have a good foot is one thing Larry would always tell me, to look at the way he stands.” Moawad said. “He taught me to be patient with the horses, to work with them, and to understand what each one needs.”

Moawad applied the latter approach to Ms Luck, a daughter of Camluck—Ms Clairol.

“It was in 2016, and I messaged the person who owned her at the time and said I was interested in buying her,” Moawad said. “I wanted to buy her because she was that horse for me, a horse that I had become attached to. So, I paid $3,200 for her and drove to Iowa in my Ford Explorer to get her. I wound up blowing my transmission on the way back, but we made it home, safe and sound.”

Moawad handed the reins to different trainers throughout the rest of Ms Luck’s racing career, which concluded with 303 starts, 57 wins and $236,983 in purse earnings.

“She was just a gutsy mare,” he said. “If you put her on the front end, it was rare that anyone would beat her. I’ve had luck with a few and she is definitely one of them.”

Overseeing a small stable — Moawad typically has one or two horses in his barn — doesn’t mean he can’t keep pace with higher-profile conditioners on certain occasions.

Going up against the bigger operations and coming out on the winning end is always a big thrill for Moawad.

“I’m a little guy, so when I go to Cleveland and win against the bigger trainers, it shows I can be competitive,” he said.

Being able to share his affinity for racing with his children, just like his father did with him, is deeply meaningful for Moawad.

“They love it,” Moawad said. “My son is always begging me to go. He’ll say, ‘I want to go to the horsey track.’ If he isn’t with me at the races, he’ll be watching it on the television, cheering us on, so that’s always exciting. Both my kids love the horses, so hopefully, they can take the reins when they are older.”

For now, Moawad will remain, as he always has, thrilled to be part of an industry that he first experienced nearly 30 years ago.

Goals, like his stable, are modest.

“I don’t do this for money, I do it because I enjoy it so much,” he said. “Sometimes, things work out, other times they don’t. I want to keep things simple, one or two horses. I just want to keep having fun with it and to be around the horses.”

No doubt something his father would be proud to know.