04/20/2012 4:54PM

Lone Star: Calhoun focuses on future after reaching 2,000 victories


As the leading trainer at Lone Star Park the past two years, trainer Bret Calhoun has made many trips to the track’s winner’s circle. He just wasn’t there Thursday night, although it proved a milestone day, when favored Forty Winks won the third race to give him 2,000 victories in his career.

Calhoun didn’t reach that lofty number by dwelling on the past, or even simply eyeing the present. He, like most successful trainers and people, keeps looking to the future.

So Calhoun celebrated Thursday night in relative quiet in Ocala, Fla., watching the race on his iPad, after spending the day looking at young horses to potentially purchase at the upcoming OBS April 2-year-olds-in-training sale.

“That’s one thing about this game: You can’t rest on your laurels,” he said by phone from Ocala on Friday morning. “I’m very excited about the accomplishment, but you can’t celebrate too long. Today’s another day. So I’m down here trying to prepare, trying to fine the next good horses.”

For Calhoun – who grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, long before Lone Star opened its doors in 1997 – reaching 2,000 winners was a milestone he never felt possible when he started out training and won his first race in April 1994 at defunct Trinity Meadows.

He said accomplishing it at his home track was special, and credited his staff for what his stable has achieved.

“We run at a lot of different places, and it takes a really good team effort to do these kinds of things, to be spread out and get something like this done,” he said.

Calhoun, 47, remains heavily vested in Texas racing, where his roots lie, though this year, as in the past, he is maintaining a large presence in Kentucky.

Summer Applause, a leading Kentucky Oaks contender, is one of 34 horses he has based at Churchill Downs. There also is Chamberlain Bridge, one of two horses that gave him Breeders’ Cup wins at Churchill Downs in 2010, with the other being the now retired champion Dubai Majesty

Dubai Majesty won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, and Chamberlain Bridge the Breeders’ Turf Sprint.

In the coming months, he also plans to send a string of horses to Monmouth Park, where they will race and ship out to a variety of tracks in the Northeast.

His goal is simple: to spots his horse where they can win, wherever that may be. That’s how he got to 2,000 winners, and it’s a practice he has every intention of continuing.

He isn’t quite ready to commit to doubling up his current total, winning 4,000 races before his career is over, though.

“I don’t know if I can make that long,” said Calhoun.. “I’m gonna shoot for 3,000.”

◗ It should come as little surprise that Calhoun has one of the leading contenders in Sunday’s featured fifth race, a $22,000 allowance at a mile on the main track for horses that have not won three races. Calhoun has stakes winner Lil Cherokee, who takes on a pair of dangerous Oaklawn Park invaders in Hidden Recipe and the unbeaten Triumph and Song.