07/20/2012 5:38PM

Ellis Park: Trainer Joe Cain is fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease


Trainer Joe Cain, a mainstay on the Kentucky circuit, is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. For years, Cain has operated out of his farm in the faraway town of Russell Springs in the south-central part of Kentucky, driving tens of thousands of miles each year to run his horses at Ellis Park, Turfway Park, and other tracks. Before the races on opening day, July 4, about 50 friends and colleagues hosted Cain in the Ellis track kitchen, giving him a warm reception and a plaque honoring his tenure in racing. Cain also was honored with a blanket presentation following the second race of the meet.

“It was all pretty touching,” said owner Mike Bruder, who organized the events as director of the local Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective chapter. Some $2,000 was raised on Cain’s behalf.

ALS is an incurable, degenerative, fatal disease that affects the nerve and spinal cord. Cain, 55, is not yet wheelchair-bound and is trying to keep the stable going in tandem with his wife, Peggy, but clearly his life is becoming more difficult with each passing day.

Cain began his training career in 1991 and has won nearly 500 races for stable earnings of $6.7 million. His best horse was the sprinter Private Horde, a five-length winner of the Grade 2 Vanderbilt at Saratoga in 2003.

Donations to help offset Cain’s medical expenses can be sent to Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Attention: Peter Donofrio, M.D.; Dept. of Neurology, VUMC; A0118MCN; Nashville, Tenn., 37232.