Laurel Park Backstretch Worker Of The Year: Arturo Pinones

Arturo Pinones considers himself very fortunate to have been the primary groom for Ravalo, a winner of 18 races and more than $1.34 million in his career. And people associated with the Laurel Park-based Donald Barr stable feel fortunate to have had Pinones on the team for more than two decades.

Pinones, selected as the Groom of the Year at Laurel Park for 2017, came to the United States from Mexico in 1984 and spent 12 years in California. He moved to Maryland and has worked for Barr for 22 years.

Pinones became the go-to guy for Barr when the trainer was vacation, and often traveled with horses that raced out of town. One of Barr’s clients said Pinones is invaluable not only for his work ethic but his love of family.

“I get to see how important grooms are to our business, and Arturo exemplifies not only a good groom on Donald’s team but he takes the time to talk to the owners and builds trust and friendship necessary to have a successful team,” said owner Walt Visier, who has six horses in training with Barr. “He takes the time that he doesn’t have to make sure my family feels part of the Barr racing team.

“He’s also a good father and husband. We talk about anything from horses to kids to fishing.” Pinones speaks with pride about Ravalo, who won 13 stakes – two of them graded, including the Maryland Sprint Handicap – while in Barr’s barn. Then owned by Lindy Redding, Ravalo won stakes at eight different tracks and relished the synthetic surfaces at Presque Isle Downs & Casino and at Woodbine.

“That was my horse,” said Pinones, who got to see new racetracks and environments when he traveled with Redding to care for Ravalo and watch his races. “There was a lot of emotion. He could run. He was a very nice horse.”

Pinones said Ravalo “would go crazy in his stall,” but he when he entered the stall and put wraps on the gelding, he was relaxed. Pinones used that as example of how important the relationship is between a groom and a racehorse.

“There are a lot of good grooms,” Pinones said. “They have a heart for horses. I’ve found that when you’re good to horses, the horses like you. They don’t kick me. I think if you’re nice to horses, the horses are nice to you.”

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