Coach puts up incredible numbers – Winnipeg Free Press

Coach puts up incredible numbers – Winnipeg Free Press
Coach puts up incredible numbers – Winnipeg Free Press

Mr. Stang pulled out his stinger in the final minutes to win the 64th running of the $50,000 Free Press Stakes by five feet on Wednesday. His trainer was still a long way from home.

Carlos Moreno, who grew up in Tijuana, Mexico and now calls Seattle home, saddled the 6-year-old gelding to win the Free Press Stakes for his wife, Maria. As he walked to the winner’s circle with his arm around his partner of 36 years, their smiles couldn’t have been more genuine.

Moreno has put up incredible numbers since joining his small stable from Turf Paradise, winning at a rate of 40 percent and finishing in the top two with nine of his 10 starters at Assiniboia Downs. The horses of the “almost 70-year-old” trainer run as if they have someone at the helm who knows what they are doing and they do.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS Trainer Carlos Moreno and Maria Isabel with Mr. Stang at Assiniboia Downs Friday morning. 240628 – Friday, June 28, 2024.

“My mother took me to the track in Tijuana, Agua Caliente, as a child,” says Moreno, the oldest of 22 children.

“She won a 5-10 there (the predecessor to the current Pick 6) that earned US$93,000. I fell in love with horses and I just couldn’t keep away from them.”

An Olympic-level boxer as a teenager, Moreno moved to San Diego in 1964 and later started a successful environmental consulting firm, but kept his hand in the horse game, learning from some of the best in the business.

“I was taught by Malcolm Anderson, who mainly trained two-year-olds.” Moreno said. “He coached at Golden Gate and Bay Meadows. Great rider. I also learned a lot from Ron McAnally. I was part of a group of assistants who prepared Bayakoa for him before she went to Santa Anita. She was very athletic. But you couldn’t get near her outside the stable. Giving her a bath allowed her to reach you from any direction and with either leg. Inside the stable it was a different story, you could work with her.

“I asked McAnally a lot of questions. I learned how to care for older horses. He said to me, ‘Just pay attention to their body language. Pay attention to what they tell you. Just look at them. The horses tell you what they want to do. Everything you need to know.’

“I mix both movements. I just come and sit with the horses. I’m at the track with them every day. My wife and I spend time with them, we watch them, we change ideas and we receive excellent support. Thanks to Brad McKenna and Dave Brockhill.”

Along with Bayakoa, Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally is best known for his work with two-time Horse of the Year John Henry and the back-to-back Eclipse Award-winning mare Paseana. McAnally is in an elite class of riders that includes fellow Hall of Famers Charlie Whittingham and H. Allen Jerkens. They just don’t get better.

According to official Equibase statistics, Moreno earned his trainer’s license in 1996 and has since compiled a record of 107-119-101 from 877 starts. However, these statistics do not tell the whole story.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS Trainer Carlos Moreno and Maria Isabel with Mr. Rod at Assiniboia Downs Friday morning. 240628 – Friday June 28, 2024.

“We trained at Emerald Downs for 18 years,” Moreno said. “We have shipped horses from Emerald Downs to Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. We had some really nice horses.”

Moreno, a qualified port engineer, trained horses and ran a consulting firm that counted the U.S. Department of Defense among its clients. He also had close connections with the elite of American society, from the military to the White House and beyond.

Moreno’s best ever horse was Kruger Park, which he claimed for US$50,000 (C$68,472) at Santa Anita and won four stakes at Emerald Downs and Portland Meadows. Kruger Park compiled a record of 8-6-6 from 33 starts for earnings of US$267,455 (C$366,266).

Now that he’s out of counseling and enjoying his time at Assiniboia Downs, Moreno says the only thing he misses is golf.

“I used to play a lot,” he said. “Three or four times a week.”

Moreno decided to come to Assiniboia Downs after meeting with Assiniboia Downs Assistant Director of Racing Derek Corbel in Phoenix.