05/11/2011 2:27PM

Louisiana Downs: Richey winning on two fronts


Tony Richey is a busy man these days. So busy, in fact, that he finds himself atop the trainer standings at both Evangeline Downs and, 200 miles to the north, Louisiana Downs.

Through the first five weeks of the Evangeline meeting, Richey has had 13 winners to lead Karl Broberg by a single victory. During opening weekend of this year’s Louisiana Downs meeting, he sent out three winners and also holds a slim one-victory advantage.

“It is going to be tough to lead at both tracks all summer now that both are running,” Richey admitted trackside during training hours at Louisiana Downs on Sunday morning. “It’s all about numbers, and we have kind of split our operation. We got off to a good start at Evangeline last month, and it has carried over to up here.”

Richey won the 2010 Louisiana Downs training title, his first after almost 30 years of training in the Mid-South region. He says defending his crown this year is not the stable’s primary goal.

“Yeah, winning titles is nice, but it is more about winning for the owners. They are really the ones that make this thing go. Since we have horses at both tracks, it gives us some options. If I have a couple of horses with the same condition for different owners at Evangeline, for example, I can bring one up here. Kind of like equal justice.”

With 45 stalls at Louisiana Downs, about 50 at the Evangeline Training Center and another 18 horses Oak Leaf Farm in Texas, Richey is highly dependent on his help. He is quick to give credit to his assistants, who he says help make the large operation run smoothly.

“It would not be possible to do what we are doing without them,” says Richey. “Michael McEachern, Mike Wright, and Allen Klanfer at Evangeline, Dana Whited at Louisiana Downs, as well as Teresa Beasley over in Texas, those guys do a great job for us.”

The diversity of Richey’s stable is impressive, as one would expect for an outfit its size.

“You’ve got to have one of everything these days,” he says. “We claim some, have some nice horses on the top end of the class scale, a lot with conditions, you name it.”

One division that Richey speaks highly of is the barn’s 2-year-olds.

“We run what I feel is a very good program. All of our babies are broke at the Evangeline Training Center, which has one of the best surfaces in the country. We are able to train in company, even run our own training races to get them ready.”

Richey says his business philosophy has evolved in recent years along with the size of his barn.

“It used to be that I would have mostly higher-end horses and would spend the winter at Oaklawn. Now, with all the slot money here in Louisiana, this is the place to be. Again, it is all about the numbers.”