Horse Racing

TRAINER MICHAEL FRANCIS — Coming in from the cold to train horses

BY RUDDY ALLEN
Observer staff reporter

Friday, November 22, 2019

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Trainer Michael Francis has been hitting the headlines of late with his two recent winners Court Call and Luana. These two winners brought his tally to seven for this season.

The Supreme Racing Guide had a chat with Francis who brought us up to date on his career as a conditioner of thoroughbred horses.

SUPREME RACING GUIDE - (SRG)

MICHAEL FRANCIS - (MF)

SRG: What is your background?

MF: I was born here in Jamaica and then I migrated to the United States. I was there as a welder working with the NS Boilers Repair for about five years then I moved to Texas and worked in construction until I eventually started my own construction company by the name of Quality Homes.

SRG: How did you get involved in horse racing?

MF: I was very successful in the building industry and in 1999 things were very good, so I tried to get a tax reduction, trying to save some money. I was paying too much money in taxes and that was how I got involved in horse racing. I started buying horses, I was an owner before I started to learn the game as an assistant trainer to Randy Fournier, Alphanso Balderas and Cole Norman and then eventually, I got my licence and started training. I got my licence like 15 years ago.

SRG: Which horse was your first winner?

MF: My first winner was Ryan's Edge in Houston, Texas. I ran horses on the west side of the States. I won races in Miami but not as a trainer, as an owner. My first winner in Jamaica was Clearly Ours.

SRG: Which is the biggest race you have won as a trainer?

MF: Picture ID won the biggest race for me overseas. It was the Pioneer Stakes at Louisiana Downs and he won quite a few Stakes races as well. In Jamaica, the horses I have are mediocre horses. I really don't have any horses that can win the Classics, not yet, but we are doing good with the little we have, like Court Call and Luana, I won two or three races that were $1 million in purses and that was it, but the rest of the races were with claiming horses. All the horses I have now are claiming horses.

SRG: name the best horse you have trained?

MF: Overseas, the best horse I trained was Picture ID. He was a champion two-year-old and then there was Danger Frost. Those two horses were great horses and they did good as well as Wolf On The Run, who won quite a few Stakes races for me.

SRG: Do you have any regrets choosing to become a trainer?

MF: No regrets. Right now I am retired and so I have to do something.

SRG: Who is your favourite trainer?

MF: Steve Asmussen and Bob Baffert are the two trainers I like and I have read a lot about Tommy Smith who trains in New Zealand. Smith is always offering some good points that can help with the training of horses. I read a lot of stuff about him that I like. Most of his horses work at sea and I have followed the progress of these horses for a while. I worked alongside Steve Asmussen, meaning our barns were side by side and as a young trainer, I used to get some tips from him. Asmussen is a person you can ask things and he will tell you. Well, the two best trainers here are Wayne DaCosta and Anthony Nunes, there is no one else to talk about and it is a steady battle between them every year since I have returned.

SRG: Who is your favourite jockey?

MF: I don't have a favourite jockey here but I have a favourite in the States. Here Shane Ellis is a good rider and I think that he and Dane Nelson are the two best riders in Jamaica. In the States, Angel Cordero is my rider. He is my favourite; he did not ride for me but he is my favourite rider.

SRG: Have you ever considered returning to the US to train?

MF: I am retired. I am tired of the cold. I will go to the States to visit my family but not to train. That's what I do, go and come back, so I reside here and I am going to be here until the good Lord says it is my time to go. I am trying to build a racing career right here and my plan is to try and get some more horses, better horses, to move from the claiming level to a different level – Allowance and Stakes horses.

SRG: What is the most important thing about training horses?

MF: The most important thing is to keep them sound. If they are not sound, they can't run. Horses are born to run and if you can't keep them sound, you are not going to get much out of them. To me that is the key point, to try to keep them sound. Once you can keep them sound you can win races.

SRG: What can we look forward to from Michael Francis in the future?

MF: Well, try and get better horses to do better. If I have better horses, I know I can do better.


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