11/19/2009 1:00AM

Q&A: Linda Rice

Barbara D. Livingston
"I'm a third-generation horse trainer. . . . It wasn't a conscious choice. It's all I ever wanted to do."

Trainer who this summer became the first female to lead the standings at a Saratoga meet.

Birthdate: March 7, 1964, in Racine, Wisc.

Family: Single

Got into racing because . . .: "I'm a third-generation horse trainer. My father [Clyde] trained horses when I was growing up. By the time I was a teenager, I was very passionate about it. It wasn't a conscious choice. It's all I ever wanted to do."

Childhood hero: "I grew up with my brothers watching Muhammad Ali."

Person most admired: "Wayne Lukas. He and my father grew up together. They're great friends. I think Wayne's a great horseman and a terrific spokesperson for horse racing. He's been a role model for me my whole life."

Best horse seen: "On television, Secretariat. In person, Curlin."

Best horse trained: "City Zip. He could outrun a horse on the lead like Speightstown, or come out of it and run down a horse like Yonaguska in the Hopeful. He had the will to win."

Have you encountered chauvinistic attitudes a male trainer might not encounter? "There's been quite a few gender-related hurdles that I've had to address over time, but I think I've managed to win the respect of my peers and colleagues, so that has dissipated over the years. I don't discourage easily. It's obviously a difficult business, for a man or woman. But at the end of the day, people are swayed by results."

Favorite thing to do outside racing: "I like to watch movies, play ping-pong, play racquetball, and shoot craps."

Craps? "The last vacation I took was to Las Vegas last winter for a few days. I took a bikini. I never realized it would snow there. I never got past the craps tables."

Favorite movie: "I'm a huge movie buff. It's a great escape from racing, and it only takes a couple of hours. I would say 'Shawshank Redemption.'"

Favorite restaurant: "After the last race at Belmont Park, I like to go to Stella's because they're always glad to see me."

Favorite music: "I like a wide variety of things: pop, rock, jazz, everything. I'm a big fan of Michael Buble."

Last book read: "A biography about Vince Lombardi, 'When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi,' by David Maraniss. He was a great motivator of people and put together a winning team. I found a lot to learn."

Future ambition: "I'd like to win the Derby and the Travers and have a barnful of Triple Crown horses. I hope with success and training titles I've put myself in position to train not only more horses but different and better horses."