“Tears in my eyes”: First win for trainer Troy Singh

“That’s the beauty about horse racing,” Somraj Singh, who goes by Troy, was saying March 1. “You can go to the sale in Timonium or buy a baby, and you don’t know. You never know.”

Even an inexpensive purchase can turn into something else, something meaningful. Something like, say, your first win as a trainer.

Singh, 42, hit that milestone February 9 when Mister Agent, a 12-1 outsider, laid waste to a field of three-year-old $20,000 claimers, winning by over four lengths under jockey Yomar Ortiz. The win came in Mister Agent’s second start in the barn; after claiming the Maryland-bred Blofeld gelding Jan. 7 for $20,000, Singh had bumped him up to the $40,000 level for a dismal 10th-place finish before dropping him back into more congenial company.

“Oh my God, I have tears in my eyes,” Singh recalled of Mister Agent’s win.

Mister Agent will move back up the claiming ladder March 8, when he faces $40,000 claimers at Laurel Park.

Mister Agent is, so far at least, the star of Singh’s three-horse string. There’s also Thunderslam, a three-year-old maiden he trains for his uncle Chetram Bhigroog; and Irish Warlock, a four-year-old gelding he claimed for $8,000 Feb. 24. Irish Warlock, a Maryland-bred by Irish War Cry who has not yet started for Singh, has finished second in four consecutive races.

As a group they illustrate some of the challenges of training horses. Does one need slightly different shoeing? Does another need a bit more time before his next start? How do you get the most out of the animals in your charge?

“When you first get a horse, it’s just the basics. Always go to the basics first,” he said. “Make sure the teeth is good. Deworm them. A lot of horses have ulcers. You fix all of those, and gradually you see the horses start to change.”

That’s the hope, anyway, and it’s a level of knowledge Singh couldn’t have imagined possessing a decade and a half ago. Back then he was a truck driver with a love of horse racing but, he admits, not much knowledge.


Growing up in Guyana, a small country on the northern coast of South America bordered by Brazil and Venezuela, Singh was introduced to racing by his father. It was, he said, pretty much love at first sight.

“My grandparents [who were in the United States], they used to send all the Breeders’ Cup, they got it on VHS, and they would send it home when we were in Guyana,” Singh remembered. “And every morning, before I go to school, I would eat my breakfast and I would watch the Breeders’ Cup races. I would watch them over and over and my mom would get so mad.

Troy Singh
Troy Singh leads Mister Agent, with Yomar Ortiz up, into the winners’ circle. Photo by Jim McCue.

“My mom’s family, they don’t like the racing so much,” he continued. “My dad’s family, everybody loved racing. And they love racing [in Guyana]. They don’t race every day. They race, like, every couple of months, and they race one day.”

Singh and his family moved to the United States in 1999 following his graduation from high school. Living in New Jersey, he spent as much time as he could at Monmouth Park, as many weekends as he could muster, meeting people and learning.

In 2011 he took the plunge, hooking up with trainer Kevin Fields and dropping $8,000 to claim a horse named Saratoga Sinner, who provided him his first winner. Soon he connected with trainer Claudio Gonzalez, then an up-and-comer himself, who has gone on to win more than 1,300 races. Singh first was one of Gonzalez’s owners, then a partner in some horses, and finally, an employee.

“Claudio’s assistant left and went back to Chile in 2016,” Singh explained. “I quit my job and came on here and was his assistant for just over six years.”

When Gonzalez, who dominated the Maryland training scene during those years, decided to focus on Parx Racing and Monmouth Park, Singh stayed in Maryland.

Troy Singh and friend at Laurel Park. Photo by The Racing Biz.

“Monmouth is like home, but I love Maryland,” he said. “I bought a house here, just 10 minutes from [Laurel Park]. So I decided to stay and got a job with [Laurel-based trainer] Bob Klesaris.”

In addition to training his trio, Singh said, he serves as Klesaris’ assistant, and in both roles, he works side-by-side with his wife, Maria Barbara Vega Vega, who is a groom.

“She’s my right hand,” Singh said. “She’s the one that – I always wanted to train, like I said – but she’s the one that kept pushing me. ‘Now is the time, now is the time,’ until I said okay.”

Singh has had some good horses and some bad ones, same as any owner or trainer, and hopes to beef up his string. In the main, the good luck has outweighed the bad thus far in his racing journey. As for the future, he’s keeping his fingers crossed, metaphorically, at any rate.

“My dad told me that. He said, you know, that a lot of people can spend a lot of money on the horses and if they’re not lucky, the horses can take your money,” Singh explained, adding with a laugh, “I’ve been lucky with the horses. But I don’t want to jinx my luck.”