Belmont Stakes & Bag of Donuts
June 8, 2024
May 9, 2023

Juan Diaz, Jr. has no plans to write a book on how to train Quarter Horses.

Article By: Hal Lundgren

Juan Diaz, Jr. has no plans to write a book on how to train Quarter Horses.

 

"If I did, they'd only print 100 copies," he guessed. 

 

"Only two copies would sell. My mother would buy one."

 

That's far too much modesty for the guy who topped Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse trainer standings in 2022 and leads again this year. 

 

The San Antonian said there's no secret to his methods.  

 

"We make sure my team and I stay on top of everything," he said. "There's always something to do."

 

Staying on top of things has led to owners trusting him with about 70 of their horses.

 

"That's the secret,"he said. "Owners have to trust how you're handling their horses. And you have to trust your assistants with that responsibility.

 

"Even when you think you're doing everything right, there are surprises."

 

One of his two-year-olds seemed ready for his first race.  He trained well. When he stepped on the track, his personality changed. 

 

"He went crazy," Diaz said. "The starting gate opened, and the horse didn't know what to do. You really never know with young horses."

 

Video replays on computers and cell phones, he believes, have greatly improved training. 

 

"An owner or one of my assistants might ask something like, 'Did you see what happened in the middle of that race?' or some other observation," Diaz said. "They call your attention to an error that can be corrected. That information might help the horse run better next time.

 

"That's just one way to keep a young horse improving. You make decisions about equipment, like putting on blinkers. You work with them on their start or their stride. They're horses, so there's only so much  you can teach them. 

 

"Older horses, like 4- and 5-year-olds, don't need teaching. As soon as they see the track, they know what's going on."

 

He pointed out an important difference in training different breeds.

 

"Thoroughbreds run longer distances," he said. "Their training routine has to build endurance. 

 

"That's not the case with Quarter Horses. Their race is a short burst. The gate opens, and there they go."

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