For Anthony Farrior, good owners key to growing success

Nine-time winner Azzurra scored at Charles Town in January for Anthony Farrior. Photo Coady Photography.

Although it could be a while before he becomes a household name, trainer Anthony Farrior is rapidly making his presence known at Charles Town Races. The second-leading trainer by wins a year ago at the Jefferson County oval, Farrior is off to an absolutely sizzling start this year.

Farrior, 40, has won with 19 of 40 starters (48%) at Charles Town thus far this year, and his local purse earnings of more than $266,000 are well beyond any other trainer’s. Ronney Brown, Crystal Pickett, and perennial leading trainer Jeff Runco are Farrior’s nearest pursuers, with seven wins apiece.

Overall, he already boasts 29 wins from 74 starters this year, a healthy 39 percent clip, with earnings of over $590,000. In his career he now sports 453 wins and earnings of nearly $8.7 million from 2,054 runners. He saddled a winner Feb. 12 at Laurel Park and then two more that evening at Charles Town.

“Really, I’m fortunate to have a lot of really good owners who trust me to put the horses in the places where they can win,” said Farrior, a Kentucky native whose career began somewhat belatedly 11 years ago. “When you have owners who send you nice horses and then allow you to spot them where you think they can win, that makes my life a lot easier. They trust in me to have the horses ready to run, so if they’re running at Laurel I’m going to be there, and if they’re in to go at Charles Town then I’m going to be there as well.”

Since his career began in 2011, Farrior has primarily succeeded through the efforts of claiming horses, the sport’s bread-and-butter horses. But in recent years he has upgraded his stock and made the foray into stakes competition.

Farrior saddled his first stakes winner in 2019 when Twirling Owen won the Rachel’s Turn Stakes over the local strip. The following year he added two more stakes win, with Twirling Owen winning the Its Binn Too Long and Waist Deep scoring in the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Last month Farrior sent out Beneath the Stars and Jackie the Joker, both of whom had graduated against maiden special weight company at Charles Town, to finish third and fourth, respectively, in the $100,000 Xtra Heat Stakes at Laurel Park.

Farrior has had 10 runners surpass $100,000 in earnings. Among those was Hemp, an allowance winner for David Baxter’s Narrow Leaf Farm who went on to run third in the 2021 Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico. That was the first time a Farrior trainee had placed in a graded event.

“I’ve got owners now like David Baxter, James Miller and Chris Melton, who have been sending me better horses from Churchill Downs and Laurel and they’ve been running well,” said Farrior. “It’s exciting to be able to run some of those horses in stakes races. I got my first stakes win a few years ago and that was a very memorable occasion. I’m hoping to have a few more this year.”

Through the first five years of his training career, Farrior went from five winners in his rookie season in 2011 to 35 winners in 2015. He didn’t surpass that number until 2019, when he logged 73 wins. Since, he’s won 76 more in 2020 then easily a career best in 2021 with 137 winners, which represented nearly a third of his career sum heading into this year.

Likewise, his runners earned over $2.5 million in 2021, easily a career high and again representing close to one-third of his lifetime bankroll heading into the current campaign.

“Obviously, you need a little luck in this business, but mainly you need good owners who are willing to trust you with their horses,” Farrior said. “Last year was definitely better than I anticipated. I was able to get ‘Boca’ [jockey Arnaldo Bocachica] for most of my horses at Charles Town, although Jeff Runco has first call on him. But he’s ridden a lot for me and done really well. I’ve also got great help around the barns.”

Anthony Farrior at right. Photo Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

Last fall, Runco and Bocachica stole the show at Charles Town on West Virginia Breeders Classics Night, teaming up to win seven of the nine stakes on the card including the two features with Muad’dib in the Classic and Star Of Night in the Cavada. Bocachica also won another race that night with Door Buster for trainer Ollie Figgins III.

Farrior, by contrast, sent out just one runner on WVBC night last year. That was Jeffery Scott, who finished ninth in the Classic. Farrior does not harbor any illusions of duplicating what Runco accomplished last fall, but he’s hoping to have a bigger impact on that night this year.

“I actually have 12 West Virginia-bred two-year-olds in my barn right now and the goal is to have them ready for Breeders Classics night,” Farrior said. “Of course, not all of them will get there but it would be nice to win a race or two. We also just got a West Virginia-bred yearling by Nyquist who looks like he could be really good next year. But this year I would like to be able to win one or two on Classics night. That’s still a long way off, but that’s the plan.”