Yesterday, the Daily Racing Form ran a feature column regarding another California standardbred trainer who has come East to achieve racing success. The first thought which came to mind was "Oh no, not again", after all wasn't it a few years ago that the Meadowlands was promoting a California transplant as the next trainer phenomenon? We know how well that played out over the past few years and I suspect we will be hearing about this particular trainer for at least another year.
So when I heard there was a column regarding Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, talking about how he came from Cal-Expo to New York via Indiana to be one of the leading trainers at Yonkers Raceway, my head shook in disbelief, and I apparently am not the only to have thought this way. After all, here is a trainer with 266 starts at the Hilltop-oval with 106 training wins for a winning percentage of 40%; a UTR of 0.536 with $1.2 million in purse earnings at Yonkers Raceway alone (for 2012, Garcia-Herrera has 165 victories out of 549 starts with a UTR of 0.449 and just under $2 million in earnings). Clearly he is having a career year, though to be fair, he has had some decent years, if not great, in California prior to this year.
Unfortunately for Garcia-Herrera, circumstances had Lou Pena training his own horses due to other issues occurring in his life. Being both come from Cal-Expo, such a relationship would not normally raise eyebrows as logic dictates you would use a trainer you are familiar with but being this is racing, this association was all some people needed to put the latest California export into the cheater's category.
Of course, being I was able to check with someone who calls Cal-Expo home, I asked for the 4-1-1 on Garcia-Herrera. My source tells me while he may not have been burning up the standings out West, he was a good horsemen, indeed in charge of his stable, definitely not a beard for anyone. Yes, there are a few medication overages during the past five years, but nothing which stands out like a sore thumb. Being trainers claiming off of him are having success with these horseracing good, I'll put Garcia-Herrera in the 'good' column.
Something is wrong when you need to convince yourself someone is 'good' instead of assuming they are until the evidence says otherwise. Is this how jaded we have become?