01/25/2010 12:00AM

Trainer profile: Steve Hobby


Steve Hobby, a regular at Oaklawn Park, has come out swinging with fresh faces ready to run at the recently started meet. His first 10 starters have yielded three wins and a break-even return on investment.

Hobby's numbers improved over the course of 2008-09 following a pair of relatively quiet years based upon his prior success. He won at 16 percent in 2008 and 2009, and set a career-best purse earnings mark of $1.38 million in 2008, a number he nearly matched the following year. His 51 wins in 2008 was the fourth highest in his career, with his best number of 59 having come in 1997.

"I think my barn just came to having the right clients with the perfect blend of stock to win races," said Hobby, who currently trains 40 horses. "We have clients who buy quality at the sales, others who breed to race, one client who likes to claim, and another who does a bit of everything. In years past, I trained predominantly for breeders, and in those barns you more or less have what you have and it will dictate how well you do."

Hobby's quick start at Oaklawn seems far from an accident.

"This is a real nice meet and home for many of our clients, so we want to be fresh and geared-up for this one," said Hobby, 53.

Action Seeker ($8.80), Pleasure's Legacy ($6.60), and Twinkle Terri ($4.80) have provided Hobby with his three wins at the meet. Action Seeker and Pleasure's Legacy had both returned from roughly two months on the bench, while Twinkle Terri had been absent since March of last year. Most upcoming runners for Hobby will also be coming back from respites. They include Grand Sensation, a solid sprinter who last raced at Monmouth in August. He will return in stakes company shortly.

Hobby is also excited about Perfect Drive, a 3-year-old colt who has faded in a pair of recent route attempts and will cut back to sprint trips; an unraced Tiznow colt who could debut soon; and Tiz Miz Sue, who finished second behind eventual juvenile filly champion She Be Wild last year.

"Tiz Miz Sue is a nice filly who ran fifth in her recent return, but we still have plenty of confidence," he said. "We've spent a lot of time trying to teach her to relax and rate, because in her route races last year she really got to wanting to run off. In her return, we took her blinkers off, and covered her up to try and make a run in a sprint. She didn't get room right away, but did ultimately finish nicely and gallop out well, so hopefully we accomplished our goal and will have plenty to look forward to."

Telling, winner of last year's Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga at a $68 ticket, has been off since November and recently joined Hobby's string at Oaklawn.

"The win at Saratoga was really indescribable," Hobby said. "I'm very excited about him now because honestly - and, I know everyone always says this - I think he'll be better this year. His recent turnout has done him a world of good and he's come back totally revitalized and looking super."

Telling is a 6-year-old son of A.P. Indy who has won five races and banked more than $510,000.

Hobby is perhaps best known for training the venerable Chindi, now a 16-year-old gelding who serves as Hobby's stable pony.

"Chindi is a horse who became my identity," Hobby said with a laugh. "He's here beside me now, and when I run into people they ask me how Chindi is doing before they ask about me. When his career was over, he didn't like being turned out, so we brought him back to the barn to be our stable pony, and he's enjoyed it. He's always been a crowd favorite, and the people around here loved him - he'd always drop way out of it and make a big late run. He was fun to watch, and he is the smartest horse I've been around. I think that's why he lasted so long on the track."

Chindi's lifetime past performances are truly amazing. He made 81 starts, won 18 races, and earned more than $1 million in purses. He won his maiden claiming debut at age 3 - his only start for a tag - and raced until he was 11. Chindi won at least one race every he ran except 2004. He retired a multiple graded stakes winner in July 2005.