My father was a huge fan of horse racing and would spend all his free time while living in Kingston, Jamaica at the racetrack. It was at a racetrack where he met my mother, a racetrack cocktail waitress at the time, and it was at the racetrack where my father and I cemented our strong bond. My father, who is legally blind due to a genetic disease called retinitis pigmentosa, taught me how to handicap races and how to read the racing form before I learned to read non-racing literature in order to assist him on the track. I instantly fell in love with the sport, the culture, and the horses. I grew up idolizing trainers and jockeys such as Antony Dutrow and Mike Smith in the way that my friends at elementary school idolized Michael Jordan. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would pursue a career in horse racing.
With some help from racetrack friends I got my first job Hot Walking at Calder Race Course in South Florida. In the summer of 2004 I was sent to Virginia for the Colonial Downs meet. There I was able to associate with other trainers and was offered a Groom position for the upcoming Saratoga meet with Jonathan Sheppard. On the way from Virginia to Saratoga I stopped at Mr. Sheppard’s farm in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. I was in awe of the beauty of the farm and the stable operation and realized that there was an opportunity for me to learn how to ride. I asked Mr. Sheppard if I could stay at his farm to learn to ride instead of going up to Saratoga and he said yes! I spent the next two years hot walking, grooming, and learning to be an exercise rider.
Since my time at Mr. Sheppard’s farm, I’ve continued to work for some of the most talented horsemen in the industry. From Michael Matz I learned to refine my horsemanship and riding skills. From Kenny McPeek I learned how to run a stable as a business enterprise and what qualities to look for in order to find the “value buy” horse. From Christophe Clement I learned about muscle & body soreness, how to treat & relieve pain, and signs to look for in order to prevent bigger issues from developing. From Anthony Dutrow I learned how to tailor training programs, improve performance and how to mentally and strategically prepare to become a trainer. From Tom Morley I was motivated to start Handal Racing after seeing a young trainer achieve success in the New York circuit.
I am extremely grateful for the countless other horsemen and horsewomen who have shared their knowledge with me, supported me and inspired me to start Handal Racing, LLC. Thank you for joining me on this journey.
Since Ray went out on is own to train at the end of 2014, the level at which he and his horses compete and their success at those levels has steadily increased, as evidenced by the earnings amassed by his trainees:
– In 2015, Handal trained runners won 3 races and earned $115, 749.
– In 2016, Handal trained runners won 13 races and earned $450,802.
– In 2017, Handal trained runners won 27 races and earned over 1 MILLION.
– In 2018 had 26 winners and almost 1.2 Million in Earnings
-In 2019, Ray continued to get the best out of his runners with 35 winners and over 1.6 MILLION in earnings!
In the summer of 2017, Ray took a small string of horses to one of the most competitive and prestigious meets in the world – Saratoga Race Course. From just 22 starters, he had 3 winners, 4 seconds, and 4 thirds – 50% in the money.
In 2018, Ray returned to Saratoga and managed to do even better. From 20 starters, he had 4 winners, 3 seconds, and 4 thirds – 20% WIN and 55% in the money. One of those victories was with English Soul in the 200K Fleet Indian Stakes. For trainers that started more than 10 horses at the meet, Ray’s win percentage put him in the top 10.
2019 marked Ray’s third superb summer in a row, ending the Saratoga meet with 6 WINS, 5 seconds and a third. His horses earned $356,541.00 over the course of the seven week meet – up from $272,492 in 2018.
In typical fashion, Ray had another superb Summer in Saratoga in 2020 – SEVEN VICTORIES, 4 seconds and 4 thirds, with earnings of $363,702.00. Two of those wins were in MSW races with first timers. Both 2 year old fillies Irish Constitution, and Rossa Veloce were purchased by Ray and Oracle Bloodstock for clients at last year’s Keeneland September Sale.
Over the last several years, Ray has developed a keen eye in recognizing potential talent – not just in horses running in claiming races, but also in selecting young horses for clients to purchase at sales. In 2017, Ray picked out three horses at two-year-old-in-training sales around the country, and all three not only won, but more than paid for their purchasing price. In subsequent years, success with yearling purchases has continued – due largely to Ray’s continued working partnership with Conor Foley of Oracle Bloodstock, and Raul Reyes of King’s Equine (where all the young horses are sent to be broken in Ocala, FL). Ray has also been able to claim horses and race them competitively at higher levels.
Scroll down to see some of Handal Racing, LLC’s biggest successes!
Claimed 1/26/20 at AQU for 25K
Record Since Claim: 10: 4-2-1 (-2)
3rd in Iroquois Stakes
Earnings since claim: $179,178.00
Purchased at Fasig Tipton October for 12K
First time out MSW Winner in Saratoga!
Purchased at Fasig Tipton October for $165K
First time out MSW Winner in Saratoga
STAKES PLACED in Joseph A. Gimma Stakes at Belmont
Record: 5: 2-1-0
Stakes Placed Filly
Purchased at 2019 OBS April 2 y/o in training sale for $57,000
Record: 12: 2-4-3
Second in Busher Invitational Stakes
Just Read It
STAKES WINNING FILLY
Purchased for $70,000.00 at Mid Atlantic 2 year old in training sale.
Record: 4: 2-0-0
Claimed in July 2018 for $25,000.00
Black type – placed
Record Since Claim: 17: 3-3-3 (-5-3) – never worse than 5th!
Earnings Since Claim: $215,588.00
STAKES WINNING FILLY
Purchased by Handal/Oracle Bloodstock as Yearling
Lifetime Record: 13-3-1-2
Winner of SARATOGA Allowance in 2019
Winner of License Fee Stakes in 2020
Lifetime Earnings: $190,932.00
Purchased for $55K at Timonium 2-year-old in training sale
Record:13 starts: 4-5-1
Claimed for 16K in March 2018
Record Since Claim: 13: 4-2-4
Earnings Since Claim: $117,325.00
Claimed for 25K
Winner of THREE Allowance Races and Multiple Stakes Placed since claim.
Earnings Since Claim: $187,459
Claimed for $25K in March 2018 at Aqueduct
Ran Second in AOC 40K in next start.
Winner of AOC $40K at Saratoga in July, 2018.
7:3-1-1 in 2019 including another victory in a Saratoga AOC
Total Earnings Since Claim: $170,082.00
Earnings (July 2019): $94,294
Winner of 2 of his next 3 races for 32K at Saratoga and Aqueduct.
Earnings Since Claim: $68, 526
Purchased for $72K at OBS 2-year-old-in-training sale
Record: 15 starts: 1-5-7
Earned $165,145 while under Ray’s care
Photographer: Kathleen O’Leary