04/25/2011 12:52PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Trainer Zwiesler closing his stable


OLDSMAR, Fla. – Trainer Mike Zwiesler, who has trained exclusively for the late Bayard Sharp and members of the Farish family for the past 13 years, said that his stable will cease operations at the end of April.

Zwiesler, 53, who worked for noted horseman Neil Howard for 20 years, struck out on his own in 1999 when he took over the training of horses owned by Sharp, a highly respected owner who died in 2002 at age 89. Sharp owned several top stakes runners trained by Charlie Peoples, including the great racemare Mississippi Mud and Dixieland Band. Dixieland Band, a graded stakes winner who died last year at 30, came to prominence at stud and is one of the foundation sires of Lane’s End Farm, the breeding operation of Will Farish, who is married to Sharp’s daugher Sarah.

After Sharp’s death, Zwiesler continued to train for the family, running some horses for Sarah Farish under the nom de course Beezee Stable as well as a number for the Farish operation. In the 13 seasons he trained, Zwiesler sent out 175 winners and had a 20 percent win rate.

Zwiesler said he was disappointed about the disbanding of his stable.

“After Mr. Sharp died, the Farishes were very loyal and stuck with the stable,” he said. “But in recent years, Mr. Farish has been cutting back on his operation, and the downturn in the ecomony and the uncertainty of so many portions of the racing business have forced us to disband the stable and look to go in another direction.”

Zwiesler had several outstanding runners and said Shag and Mumbo Jumbo were his best.

“Shag was my first stakes winner, and Mumbo Jumbo won 6 of 9 races, including a few minor stakes,” he said.

Zwiesler said he is unsure of his future plans but is sure it will have something to do with horses.

“My wife and I haven’t had a vacation in 28 years, so we’re going to take a little break, take a look at what’s out there, and go from there,” he said. “Right now, I’m just hoping all my help can make the adjustment and find other work. We had a good crew of solid, dedicated people.”

◗ The Jane Cibelli barn, which had been having a good meeting before, has kicked into overdrive of late. Cibelli has sent out 11 winners from her last 16 starters and now is third in the trainer standings with 25 winners.

Meanwhile, the battle for the top spot is still a close one as Jamie Ness’s lead over Gerald Bennett was four wins through Saturday’s program. Ness posted a training double Saturday, while Bennett had a single winner on the same card.

◗ Stables with Western Canadian ties have claimed a total of 26 horses since the meeting started. Tim Rycroft, who has won 5 races from 38 starters, has taken 11 horses ranging in price from $10,000 to $20,000. Rodney Cone, who has won 3 races from 34 outings, has taken 10 runners with claiming prices ranging from $8,000 to $50,000, while Craig Smith, who is winless in 45 starts, has taken four runners from $6,250 to $32,000