Trainer Ralph Irwin has been notably absent from the entries this year, beginning with the Oaklawn Park meet that wrapped in May and now at Louisiana Downs. It&rsquo;s the first time the 69&#45;year&#45;old has ever been away from the track as he grew up in a racing family.Irwin&rsquo;s father, R.L. &ldquo;Bob&rdquo; Irwin, was a former assistant to the late Hall of Fame trainer Marion Van Berg and a winner of three training titles at Oaklawn. Ralph Irwin worked for his father and later the late Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg before taking out his trainer&rsquo;s license in 1975 at Oaklawn.Irwin said he decided to close down his entire public racing stable shortly after he lost a major client in November. He is open to a return to training, but said it would have to be under the right circumstances. Irwin&rsquo;s last starters came Sept. 26 and his last win Sept. 19, all at Louisiana Downs.&ldquo;I miss the people tremendously,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If something were to work out and somebody offered me something I&rsquo;d go, but right now, I am just thoroughly enjoying spending time with family.&rdquo;Irwin, who is living in Hot Springs, Ark., also said he misses the horses. Popular runners for the barn included half&#45;siblings Tortuga Straits and Tortuga Flats &ndash; with whom Irwin won a combined 13 stakes &ndash; and The Pickett Factor, a past winner of the Prelude at Louisiana Downs and the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds. Irwin&rsquo;s first win as a trainer came in 1975 at Detroit Race Course. He has been a regular at both Louisiana Downs and Oaklawn dating back to the mid&#45;1970s. Irwin, an old&#45;school horseman widely respected on the backstretch, operated a public racing stable of about 15 to 20 horses.&ldquo;I tried to stay 15 or below,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to split the stable. I wanted to be at my barn at all times.&rdquo; These days, Irwin has been splitting his time between home and the road. He and his wife, Pam, just returned from a trip to Florida and are headed next to Nebraska.