02/25/2008 12:00AM

Trainer Profile: Ed Moger Jr.


SAN MATEO, Calif. - If trainer Ed Moger Jr.'s life were ever turned into a movie, it would have to be called, "The Endless Summer," like Bruce Brown's fabled surfing documentary of the 1960s.

"This started as a summer job 32 years ago," said the 52-year-old Moger. "I was going to school at the University of Washington and was looking for a summer job."

Moger got a job cleaning stalls and found that he liked racing and horses.

He likes it as much today.

"I never get tired of it," he said. "You think you've seen it all and then something new happens."

The low-key trainer is hands-on with his horses. He is particularly good with equipment changes, knowing when to put blinkers on or take them off.

"Every horse is different," he said. "Sometimes you add blinkers to get them to show speed, but sometimes maybe they will settle horses down."

He has a solid 25-percent win rate when adding blinkers, and he shows a flat-bet profit, but he also has a positive return on investment when taking blinkers off, winning 29 percent of the time with that move.

Recent maiden winner Sparklelady is an example of what taking blinkers off can do. She still showed her natural speed but was much more relaxed early with blinkers taken off.

Patience is a key with Moger and can be seen in his approach with young horses. Developing horses is his favorite part of the business. He takes his time with them, always looking at a long-range goal. As a result, his percentage with debut winners is low, while his percentage with second-timers is more than double that of first-timers, and he shows a flat-bet profit with horses making their second starts.

It's something he learned watching Charlie Whittingham at Santa Anita.

Winning with a first-timer is nice, but development is more important, he says.

That philosophy paid off with Zoning In, who ran second to Love That Gin in his debut two years ago, then defeated Love That Gin to win the Malcolm Anderson Stakes in his second start.

"I don't try to wind them up too much," Moger said. "I like to see horses relax even if they have good speed. It's not that I'm not trying to win first time out, but development is important."

Moger has good success on the turf, where his return on investment is a strong $4.83.

"Maybe it's because speed is not that good on the turf, and I get horses to relax," he said of his success.

But he also enjoys almost as good success dropping routers back into sprints, with a $4.22 return, as he watches closely and tries to recognize what his runners are most comfortable doing.

Stabled at Bay Meadows, Moger has enjoyed some of his best success there, although he has had big meets at Golden Gate Fields and has done well with a small band of horses he has stabled in Southern California where his runners have hit the board in 53 percent of their starts the past year.

Moger says he has a good handle on his horses.

"When I've had good meets, I was expecting to," he said. "I know which horses are live. I'm not surprised if a horse runs good or bad. If you look at meets I haven't done well, my horses usually went off at huge odds."

Huge odds aren't a bad thing with Moger horses, as Gentle Charmer proved winning the California Cup Distaff last fall, returning $110 as the largest payoff in the 18-year history of the Cal Cup.

A 6-year-old mare, Gentle Charmer has won 7 of 30 starts and earned $344,313 for Moger's principal clients Curt and Lila Lanning. She is a testament to Moger's patient handling.

"I liked her a lot when she was young, and she's improved every year," Moger said. "When she was younger, she had surgery and was turned out, so she had time to become a good horse."

Time, patience, careful monitoring of horses, it all pays off for Moger during his endless summer.