06/19/2017 3:00PM

Hushion to retire from training at end of meet

Barbara D. Livingston
Mike Hushion, 68, has 1,424 training wins in a 42-year career.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Mike Hushion, respected as a horse trainer but admired for being a better person, will retire from the game after 42 years of training when the Belmont Park spring-summer meet ends on July 16.

Hushion, 68, has trained horses on the New York Racing Association circuit since 1975 after working six years for the late Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens. Through Sunday, Hushion had recorded 1,424 career victories, and his horses had earned $51,978,605.

“It’s just time,” Hushion said Monday at his Belmont Park barn. “That old line about spending more time with your family, it’s so true. I’m never happier than I am when I’m with them. Why shouldn’t I be happy?”

Hushion has three children and three grandchildren who live in New Jersey and New York. Hushion said a fourth grandchild is due next month.

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Hushion was found to have leukemia in 2015 and missed several months of work. He returned to training full time that summer at Saratoga. He said his health did not play a role in his decision to retire.

“None,” Hushion said, “except I don’t want to go from the barn to the hospital five years from now. I’ve never been afraid of life away from the racetrack. It doesn’t scare me.”

For the first half of his career, Hushion was among the top claiming trainers in the sport. In 1993, he was the second-leading trainer on the NYRA circuit with 102 victories. The year before, he began training for Barry Schwartz, the co-founder of Calvin Klein. Hushion still trains for Schwartz.

“Twenty-five years in partnership,” Hushion said. “There aren’t too many of those around, are there? I don’t think we ever had an argument.”

Listening to Schwartz talk about Hushion, it wasn’t hard to understand how the partnership lasted so long.

“He’s such a quality, good guy; such a good trainer, so honest; such a sincere, wonderful person,” Schwartz said. “He’ll be very difficult to replace.”

Schwartz said he was excited for Hushion, who in addition to dealing with his own health issues lost his wife, Sharon, to cancer in September 2012.

“If anybody deserves to take it easy and really enjoy himself, it’s Mike,” Schwartz said. “We’ve been together for 25 years. This is really traumatic for me, and I know it is for him, too. But he’s going to be able to do a lot of things he hasn’t been able to do before.”

Hushion has spent the last two summers at Saratoga staying with Schwartz and his wife, Sheryl. Hushion said he will be going to Saratoga this summer even if he won’t be working.

“I’m going to see what it’s like to sit in Mrs. London’s and read the paper in the morning,” Hushion said, referring to downtown restuarant and bakery. “It’s something I wanted to do my whole life.”

Hushion couldn’t pick out a favorite moment or horse he trained. Artemis Agrotera and The Lumber Guy gave Hushion his three Grade 1 wins. Boom Towner was a fan favorite in the 1990s whom Hushion and Schwartz claimed for $50,000 and with whom they won four stakes. Boom Towner is still alive at age 29 and lives on Schwartz’s farm.

Other stakes winners trained by Hushion include Great Intentions, Nicole H, Turnofthecentury, Lovely Lil, Papua, Nothing But Fun, Seeking the Sky, and Sunrise Smarty.

Hushion said he is most proud of having no drug positives, and “I think I’ve had as few tragic endings to my horses as any trainer,” he said.

There are four weeks left in the Belmont meet, and Hushion said he’ll have plenty of horses to run. On Thursday, he runs Jupiter Rising first time for a claiming tag for Schwartz. On Sunday, he will run T Loves a Fight, the recent winner of the Mike Lee Stakes, in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Division of the New York Stallion Stakes. That race is on the turf, and on Monday, T Loves a Fight worked a half-mile in 51.14 seconds over the Belmont turf course. He went his first eighth in 14.04 seconds.

“It wasn’t like he made four lead switches in the stretch and had his head in the air,” Hushion said.

When Hushion walks out of the stable gate next month, he’ll certainly be able to hold his head high for a marvelous career.