MIKE TROMBETTA ON BRINK OF MILESTONE
As fate would have it, Mike Trombetta has the opportunity to celebrate two milestones in the same week.
Perennially one of the top trainers in Maryland who is also a player on the national stage, Trombetta turned 55 on Tuesday. The Baltimore native stands just two shy of 2,000 career wins, which he can reach as soon as Thursday when live racing returns to Laurel Park.
- Nick Sanna’s long journey to the winner’s circleLong before he owned horses, Nick Sanna had a job sweeping up after the races at Delaware Park. It’s been quite a journey.
Trombetta has three horses entered in two of Laurel’s nine races Thursday – 3-year-old gelding Mr Mosley in the opener for maidens 3, 4 and 5 going 1 1/16 miles on the Bowl Game turf course, and both Fifteen Royals and Ellanation in the seventh, an optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the Exceller layout.
In addition, Trombetta will be represented by 3-year-old filly Imagery in Thursday’s sixth race at Woodbine, a six-furlong optional claimer on the grass where she is the narrow 3-1 program favorite. On Friday, Trombetta has five horses entered in four races on Laurel’s nine-race card.
“We’re trying to get there. We have a little bit more to do with it. We need two more. It’s exciting stuff,” Trombetta said, adding that it “would be cool” to get No. 2,000 at home in Maryland. “I can’t really control it, but maybe it will work out that way. It would be a lot of fun.”
According to Equibase statistics, Trombetta’s 1,998 wins have come from 11,238 career starters, including 91-for-581 this year. He has reached more than $1 million in purse earnings every year since 2005 and at least $3 million since 2007, with a career bankroll approaching $68.3 million.
“Time goes by so fast, as we all know. Fortunately, I still enjoy this a whole lot and that makes it fun,” Trombetta said. “When those times do come up and you reflect a little bit, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to do this as an occupation.”
Based primarily at Laurel and the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., Trombetta runs horses up and down the East Coast. He spends part of the summer in Saratoga and winter in South Florida, and this year branched out with a small string at Delaware Park.
“We had a few more than we could fit at the other two places [Laurel and Fair Hill],” Trombetta said. “So, we get scattered about and that makes it a little bit more challenging for all of us, but that’s part of the game.”
Trombetta’s introduction to horses came from his father, at tracks such as historic Pimlico Race Course and the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, and he steadily worked his way up the ladder to becoming a trainer.
“My dad owned some horses when I was a teenager and I got some exposure to it that way. I liked the sport and I liked the horses, and I got an opportunity to start working with them a little bit,” he said. “I was walking hots when I was 13 years old and I was grooming horses by the time I was 15. When I was in school I did school, but when I wasn’t in school I was at the track.”
The MTHA Trainer of the Year in 2005, Trombetta burst on the national scene with Sweetnorthernsaint, a Grade 2 winner who went off as the Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite in 2006 and ran second to champion Bernardini in the Preakness (G1). Among his local stakes wins were the 2006 Miracle Wood and 2007 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial at Laurel.
For his career, Trombetta said ‘The Saint’ meant “everything. That was a turning point for me. That’s when we went from just doing this job to everybody kind of getting a chance to know who we were, and that meant the world to us. That just put fuel on the fire that I could have never expected.”
Other stakes horses for Trombetta include 2020 Forego (G1) winner Win Win Win, 2019 Highlander (G1) winner Wet Your Whistle, 2012 Nearctic (G1) winner Next Question, and a bevy of other graded winners.
Over the years, Trombetta has had such major clients as Live Oak Plantation, R. Larry Johnson and the Meyerhoff family, best known for campaigning Hall of Famer Spectacular Bid.
Trombetta won Laurel’s 2019 spring stand and shared the 2015 winter meet title with Claudio Gonzalez, to whom he has finished second in annual Maryland wins each of the past two years. He also ranks among the all-time leading trainers in Maryland Million history with nine wins.
“We’ve had a lot of good owners for a lot of years, and we’re obviously very grateful to them,” Trombetta said. “It’s a team effort. Everybody works so hard. To think about all the people that get up at 3:30 or 4 o’clock in the morning to do this job, it’s pretty amazing stuff. I can’t say enough. These guys work tremendously hard for us. They’re very dedicated. I’ve had some really good people for a lot of years, and I’m grateful to have them.”