12/16/2008 1:00AM

Trainer profile: Dane Kobiskie


Dane Kobiskie, 29, may be young and new to the training world, but it seems as though he just might have the right amount of experience, drive, and opportunity to take his skill set to the next level as a trainer.

Kobiskie, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, won nearly 300 races as a jockey, with the bulk of his riding coming from 2005 through the early part of this year. He spent time as an exercise rider, worked at farms and around the sales, apprenticed as a blacksmith, and was employed by top trainers such as Steve Asmussen, Rodney Jenkins, and Michael Pino.

As a freshman trainer, Kobiskie has numbers that are more than respectable (32-33-20 from 192 starts) from his string of about 40 he oversees at the Bowie training center. He races predominantly in Maryland.

Kobiskie has said, "Not being successful is not an option, "and in talking to him you'll quickly do more than just buy into it - you'd bet on him.

"I've been very happy with the way the barn has been running lately, and we've just hit a patch of racing luck that I know is about to turn," he said. Before winning on Dec. 13, Kobiskie had sent out a string of 22 runners, with 10 second-place finishes and a trio of thirds.

"My riders were a bit down with all the seconds and thirds, but we've done nothing differently, and our horses have performed.

"I'd been winning at about 18 percent much of the year until recently, and I want to maintain a 20-percent win average, so that hurt, but we are headed in the right direction. I've learned a lot as I've gone, and moving forward I'm working harder to pick my spots even better and to not just run because a race is there. I've really learned the value of training to a race rather than running to a race. For next year, I want to win at least 80 races, and maybe that's pushing it, but I love to set my sight on a goal."

Maybe his goal is not pushing it. Kobiskie recently signed a three-year private contract to train exclusively for P.T.K. LLC, for whom he has already enjoyed the bulk of his success. The deal will put a minimum of 50 to 60 runners in his barn at all times, in addition to young stock, layups, and the like.

"This is a great opportunity for me to train for great people who have become like family to me," Kobiskie explained. "They are very down-to-earth people, love to win, and are avid handicappers who are good with a Daily Racing Form. As a new trainer, I suppose it is nice to have a bit of a safety net in place, also, but I have some pretty serious long-term goals. I'm always thinking ahead and challenging myself with thoughts of where I want to be in, say, four years. And, in four years I want to have 150 horses, and I know I will. You need to keep that attitude and confidence and be in the right spot at the right time, but you can also put yourself in that spot."

Kobiskie's recent string of "seconditis" has probably actually rewarded many exotics players - he's saddled runners-up at odds of 27-1, 16-1, and 8-1 twice in recent memory - as opposed to sending punters away from a race grumbling bad things under their breath.

Kobiskie now believes he was meant to train horses, and can draw upon his many experiences in a positive fashion.

"I always felt as though I was a good rider, not a great finisher, but I rode a smart race," said Kobiskie, who did make a cameo in August of this year and rode Citi Charisse to a victory in a minor stakes at Colonial Downs. "I rode for good barns, had good agents, and wasn't as challenged by riding as much as I am training.

"I get my greatest satisfaction as a trainer, though. I enjoy the challenge, my mind always working, and questioning how I can do things better."

Kobiskie now takes a hands-on approach to training, and spends much of the morning on a pony watching his sets train.

"Occasionally, I'll jump up, but we train in sets of four, so I don't want to miss what is going on with the others," he said. "Sometimes, I believe it helps me with certain horses, but I prefer the training duties. We treat our horses as individuals, and they can all have very different training routines at times. I learned a lot about how to train certain horses the right way, particularly in paying attention to a guy like Steve Asmussen and how his barn works, and also from Mike Pino on how to not 'overtrain' a horse. Mike could have one that he'd work once a month, and he wins at 30 percent."

Kobiskie feels his Marine Corps background helps him most from the standpoints of confidence and organizational skills.

"I think my background helped me gain confidence and the ability to manage things better," he said. "I believe in fate and destiny and am happy it all brought me where I am now. I broke my leg in four places riding a horse several years back, and that discharged me from active duty. I never had the chance to go overseas, and that hurt, but I'm happy with where I am at now.

"I enjoy it and have always been an adrenaline junkie. My mom always asked why I had to always do something where you needed to wear a helmet. It's just been that way."

Kobiskie seems a trainer to watch, and mom will be happy he'll be dusting off a helmet far less often.