12/22/2008 1:00AM

Trainer profile: Troy Young


Troy Young's childhood wasn't about cowboys and Indians, candy stores, or baseball. When you grow up in Opelousas, La. - horse country - and your father is a successful Quarter Horse trainer, horses are front and center.

"On weekends, starting from when I was 11 or 12, I'd go clean stalls," Young said. "Summers, I was the only kid who wasn't excited - I had to go to work."

The work has paid off. Operating a 30-horse string that races mainly in Louisiana but sometimes in Texas, Young, 48, has become a regular high-percentage winner on his circuit. Among the clients who entrust their horses to Young's care is his father, Lee Young, who had his training heyday in the late 1960s and early 70s.

"I learned a lot from my dad," Young said. "Back in the day, you had more horsemen than you have today."

Young mainly trains Louisiana-breds; you can bet on them and regularly make money. Of the 31 Daily Racing Form Trainer Form categories, Young is showing a return on investment at least within a couple cents of $2 in 13 of them. In 23 of those categories, Young wins with at least 20 percent of his starters. Young used to have a few more turf horses, but with the average Louisiana-bred tending more toward speed than stamina, Young said, he has more dirt sprinters than anything right now. Indeed, dirt sprints make up the largest single category among Young's recent starters, and Young's ROI with a 248-horse sample here is $1.99.

That's more than a solid number, because Louisiana bettors know Young as a high-percentage outfit and his horses tend to get bet accordingly. He is especially strong getting young horses through the maiden ranks and has a $2.99 ROI with all 2-year-olds and a $2.60 ROI in maiden special weight races.

Young historically is strong with first-time starters and horses returning from mid- to long-term layoffs.

"I guess situations like that, maybe there's a little more horsemanship involved," Young said.

Young traces his ability to get a horse to run well fresh back to a spell as a groom for trainer Frankie Brothers.

"I got a job with him just to watch and pick things up, and I remember [what] he would do to get these horses ready off layoffs," Young said. "As long as I get to do my job and take all the time I need, I can have one ready. When you're bringing them back and breezing these horses, you're going to have to work them three or four times in company to have them fit enough."

While most of Young's clients are willing to let him call the shots, one likes to meddle - Young's dad.

"My dad, he won't let me work a horse in company," Young said. "He doesn't believe in that."

Young said he had a chance to expand his stable several years ago, but he has three kids and has chosen to keep things in a smaller scale.

"I haven't been comfortable expanding to a bigger stable," Young said. "I had trouble handling that."

But 30 horses based in central Louisiana, Young is handling that fine. And bettors would do well to get a handle on Young, too.