05/18/2012 11:35AM

Fort Erie: Cohen and his horses a good fit here


FORT ERIE, Ontario – Trainer Michael Cohen, 51, has been has been working with his small Fort Erie stable for the past 10 years and looks forward to many more seasons at this historic oval.

When not at the Fort, usually in the spring or fall, Cohen is frequently found at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. Other sojourns over the years have been south of the border to such tracks as Thistledown in Cleveland and Beulah Park in Columbus, Ohio.

“We have made Fort Erie our home,” said Cohen, “and love racing here. At times, I have tried my luck at Woodbine with a few runners and we have won a few.

“Generally, my horses fit much better with the Fort Erie condition book, and as they say, you have to run them where they belong. In that regard, the two Ohio tracks write races that can fit our runners. That is why we run down there.”

The Cohen-trained Creeping Barrage won a second-level allowance at Woodbine in late April. That was his third win in a row following a maiden win last fall and an allowance score that ended 2011.

One of many small barns at Fort Erie, Cohen has five runners in tow. Three of his horses are winners.

“We mainly work it on our own,” said Cohen, “and I am lucky to have my greatest supporter and fan close by, my wife of 13 years, Lynda.

“She owns two of the runners and has become a serious student of the business of racing. It would be nice to have a couple more runners and we are always looking for new horses and owners.”

Reminiscing on his career, Cohen spoke of a number of trainers that he had worked for and had taught him from the ground up.

“Twenty years ago, I began as a hotwalker,” said Cohen, “graduated to grooming and then wrote for and passed the trainer’s test in 2001. Winston Wilkinson took me in hand in those early years, and he showed me how to care for horses. Others that took me under their wing at Woodbine include Harvey Tenenbaum and special mention must go to trainers Audre Cappuccitti and Steve Owens. Audre, who I worked for as an assistant in 2000, put the final touches to my Thoroughbred education in one of the busiest years of my life.”

Over the past 10 years, Cohen has started 860 runners and gained a 71-53-84 record, an 8 percent win figure and 24 percent in the top three.

“There have been seasons where we had to struggle,” said Cohen. “Success depends so much on the horses in the barn at any given time, but what more can you ask for when you’re working at what you love doing?”

In his first year of training, Cohen managed 13 wins from 102 starters.

“The late Bobby Frankel, a superb conditioner, once gave me a pat on the back for that first year,” said Cohen, “and I certainly appreciated the compliment.”

◗ This week begins the first three-day schedule of the season. From June through August, post time on Tuesdays will be 4:15 p.m.