12/21/2005 12:00AM

Record year for rider turned trainer

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Trainer Jeff Radosevich, who through Monday ranked 10th nationally by number of wins with 165 victories from 736 starters, is having a career-best year. In the process, he is rewriting the Thistledown record books, as he recently won his 46th race of the Cranwood meeting, surpassing the old record of 42 set by Gary Johnson in 2001. Radosevich also notched his 115th win of the year at Thistledown, topping the previous high of 113, also by Johnson in 2001.

Radosevich, a former jockey who was the track's winningest rider in 1988, may be the first horseman in Thistledown history to have both a leading rider title and leading trainer title.

Radosevich, 44, comes from a family that is very involved in horse racing, so he was exposed to horses and working in the barns at a young age. His father, Joe Radosevich, trained Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds for about 40 years. Radosevich's two brothers, Joe and Jake, also train horses. Joe is at Remington Park and Jake is one of the top trainers at Beulah Park. Jake is the father and Jeff the uncle of Josh Radosevich, the 16-year-old apprentice rider who died following a spill last month at Beulah Park.

Jeff Radosevich, a native of Joliet, Ill., began his riding career in 1980 and rode for 16 years. He rode in Illinois and Oklahoma before coming to Ohio in 1988. That year he collected a Thistledown meet title and rode the most winners on the year. In 1993, sidelined longer than expected with a broken leg, Radosevich decided to try his hand at training. He celebrated his first win as a trainer in December 1993 with I'm a Gogo.

Radosevich started with a small operation and now trains more than 70 horses. He credits his clients and his crew for his success.

"I give a lot of credit to my clients, including Jack Boggs, Bill McDonald, and Gerald Silver," he said. "You have to have horses to win races and win titles. They've been a big support. My help also deserves credit. If you don't have a good crew, you don't have anything."

Radosevich misses riding but says galloping his own horses in the mornings gives him a big advantage. He is a very hands-on trainer, beginning his mornings at 5:30 a.m. Asked what training method was responsible for his success, he replied, "I don't train on a schedule, I train as needed. Each horse is a different individual."

Radosevich, with a 20-win lead through Wednesday over Thistledown's second-leading trainer, Rodney Faulkner, appears certain to add his fourth training title with this year's Cranwood meet when the season ends Friday.