Dennis Manning has been a successful Thoroughbred racehorse trainer for many years. His career began in New England, with, appropriately enough, a 13-year-old warrior named Rodman that ran at Marshfield Fair for a purse of $600. (You can learn more about Marshfield, and other “lost” tracks of New England, in an interesting article published in Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, by clicking here.)
I say “appropriately” for two reasons. First, Dennis has, throughout his career, achieved remarkable results with older horses. And by “older”, I don’t just mean four or five, but also winning stakes with horses racing at the ripe old ages of seven and eight!
Secondly, very much like high-profile trainers Bill Mott and Barclay Tagg, Dennis learned his craft from the ground up, on smaller circuits, and initially with low-grade stock. Having watched and worked closely with Dennis and the two, above-mentioned trainers, I can state categorically that trainers with such backgrounds hold a distinct advantage over those who begin their careers with higher-class stock.
The reason is that when working with cheaper, often unsound stock, and mostly modest pedigrees, trainers are forced to learn how to manage in such a way that they can both get the most out of their runners, and keep them sound. That may seem obvious, and it may also be tempting to assume that all trainers aspire to do the same. But the fact is that, especially today, in an age in which “mega- stables” are more prevalent than ever, it cannot be taken for granted that most horses are developed to their full potential, nor that they are managed with long careers in mind.
Dennis rose through the ranks to become a successful trainer at Suffolk Downs, which was then the crown jewel of the New England circuit, but yearned for more, and eventually became a fixture at Monmouth Park during the summers, while establishing a home base in Ocala, and racing on the Florida circuit during the winter months.
He achieved a good measure of success on both circuits, and has been supported for many years by, among many others, notable owners Mac Fehsenfeld and Earle Mack. You can read about a few of the highlights of Dennis’ career to date by clicking here.
“Having worked with Dennis over many years, I have found him to be an excellent horseman, and especially adept at safely building strong foundations under his horses as he brings them up to races. He also has a keen eye for day-to-day changes in his stock, helping him to catch potentially serious issues at an early stage.”
– Aaron R. Cohen, Racing Manager, Earle I. Mack LLC
In recent years, Dennis has consolidated his stable in Florida, and is now based at the Oak Ridge Training Center year-round. He races at both major Florida racetracks, and maintains a small division of runners at Gulfstream Park, under the watchful eye of long-time assistant trainer Nicole Roman.
After a transition period, which included learning the nuances of racing at Gulfstream during the warmer months, Dennis has now become very comfortable with year-round racing in Florida, and is regularly winning races.
As an owner/breeder himself, Dennis has long experience with breaking and developing young horses. And while racing remains his primary focus, he has also been successful preparing young horses to race for trainers on other circuits, as he did for years with some of Earle Mack’s yearlings.
Another of Dennis’ great strengths is rejuvenating horses that require time to heal from mental and/or physical problems, and his thoughtful, individualized attention has produced impressive results for various owners over many years.
Last, but certainly not least, Dennis cares deeply about the welfare of his horses even after their careers have ended, and has a long history of successfully placing former racehorses into caring hands. You can read a heartwarming story about one such horse, Currency Arbitrage, or “Curry”, by clicking here.
To learn more about the Oak Ridge facility, and the specific services that Dennis offers, simply navigate the menu bar found at the top of each page.
– Tony Cobitz, Bloodstock Agent, Consultant, Journalist, Horseplayer, and long-time student of The Game