06/06/2007 12:00AM

Tom Proctor


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With a 25-percent win record with grass starters over the last five years, trainer Tom Proctor has rightfully gained a reputation as a skilled trainer of turf horses. Just don't remind him of that.

"I always thought when people thought that all you trained were turf horses, that's when you went out of business," he quipped.

Owners may not always appreciate a trainer who excels with turf horses, favoring those who win with speedy 2-year-olds, but Proctor's achievements are not lost on horseplayers. In addition to winning at a high percentage, his horses often return handsome prices at the betting windows.

His first-time turf horses, for example, are 6 for their last 26, and a $2 wager on each would have returned an average of $3.05.

Proctor, 51, the son of late renowned trainer Willard Proctor, understands the game. He believes a trainer's statistics are influenced by the composition of a stable.

A trainer with horses by speed sires is more likely to win races for 2-year-olds. One who has horses with grass pedigrees is going to see his horses fare best once he has a chance to run them on the grass.

Right now, the better horses in his stable just happen to be turf horses.

"My horses aren't precocious," he said. "So it's best to give 'em a little time."

Not that Proctor is strictly a turf trainer. Since beginning training in 1978, he has succeeded with dirt sprinters, such as the speedy I'm Smokin, and with distance dirt horses, such as One Dreamer, who scored a 47-1 upset in the 1994 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Once a trainer who raced in California, Proctor now splits his stable between Churchill Downs and Arlington in the summer. The horses winter at Tampa Bay Downs and Fair Grounds.

"I didn't have the horses to compete in California anymore," he said. "It doesn't do any good to go those places if you're gonna run up the track."

His horses fit where he now races. Following a win from You Go West Girl in an allowance race Saturday, Proctor pushed his Churchill Downs record to 2 for 12.

Although many of Proctor's better runners are owned by Glen Hill Farm, he does not train exclusively for them.

For example, Frank Mancari and Denis Savard own Drivingmaxandmitzi, a starter allowance winner for Proctor May 11 at Churchill Downs. Savard is the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team.

Since being purchased privately for $32,000 last year, Drivingmaxandmitzi has won 6 of 10 starts.

Proctor is quick to credit owned by former trainer Tom Miller for the horse's success.

"He was gift-wrapped," Proctor said.

Proctor's stable also includes Rich in Spirit, who won the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill in 2005, and the Grade 3 Locust Grove in 2006.

He has some quality dirt horses as well. Cryptoquip won the Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks for him last summer and has been breezing at Churchill Downs. And Trainee won the Sophomore Fillies Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs earlier in the year.

Some of his horses handle both surfaces, such as Purim. A stakes winner on turf and dirt, he most recently ran third in the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland April 13.