- Published: Friday, 10 January 2020 18:47
Troy Singh, who has served as assistant trainer for the Claudio Gonzalez barn for the past four years, has been selected Backstretch Employee of the Year at Laurel Park for 2019.
Singh, a 38-year-old native of Guyana, took an interesting path to his job--he was a racehorse owner who became so interested in being around the horses that he went to work for Gonzalez, who he met at Monmouth Park when Gonzalez claimed a horse for him.
Singh owned 12 horses trained by Gonzalez at the Bowie Training Center before it closed in 2015 and then became his assistant at Laurel.
"I used to go to Monmouth every weekend when I was an owner, and I wanted to learn more," Singh said. "I loved it so much I decided I wanted to work with the horses. I met Claudio at Monmouth and claimed a horse to give to him to train, and we became very good friends. I ended up helping him with a lot of stuff."
Singh became the stable's assistant trainer when another assistant returned to Chile, which is Gonzalez's homeland. He has taken on quite a bit of responsibility in what has grown into a large operation; Singh is based in Maryland but Gonzalez races at many tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region and currently has a string at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania.
"I make sure everything goes well at the barn and that all the paperwork is in order," Singh said. "I make sure the grooms do their jobs. When some of the guys go back to Mexico we do the stall work and have to be with the horses. It's a lot of hard work but it's very fulfilling when you win a race."
Gonzalez, 43, collected his third consecutive Maryland training title in 2019 with 126 victories at Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course and the Maryland State Fair at Timonium. The stable won 111 races in the state in 2018 and 84 in 2017.
Gonzalez and his owners have been active at the claiming box and also at auctions. The Laurel operation has grown to about 60 horses and was less than 30 when Singh came aboard four years ago.
"We keep a level head and get the job done," Singh said. "Working with Claudio, I learn a lot. He's tough—he wants things done the right way."
As an owner, a highlight for Singh was winning the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel in January 2015 with Never Stop Looking, who was trained by Gonzalez. He also recalled the Gonzalez-trained Afleet Willy, a former claimer owned by BB Horses, winning four stakes, three of them at Laurel.
"That horse gave me goosebumps," Singh said. "That kind of thing makes it all worthwhile."