READE AT THE BARN IN PALM MEADOWS - 2005
READE BAKER grew up with his two sisters in a house a mile up the road from their family’s small dairy farm in Port Dalhousie near St. Catharines. His was a close knit family of modest means with caring parents and a number of aunts and uncles one of which influenced the direction of Reade’s future.
READE'S ASSOCIATION WITH HORSES STARTS EARLY ON THE FARM
|Uncle Charles was a significant figure in Reade’s life as he was the one who took him to the races for the first time. Reade worked with and rode the horses on the farm but he was awe struck when he saw the beautiful thoroughbreds and the well dressed patrons at the Fort Erie summer meet. Within ten minutes of entering the gates, the young fourteen-year-old decided that this was paradise and it is where he wanted to be.|
After his visit to the racetrack staying in school became difficult as Reade began a habit of skipping out at lunch hour and hitching a ride to the racetrack until his parents caught on and sent him to boarding school in Kitchener so he could concentrate on his studies.
Coincidentally the first person Reade sat beside in his new school was John Chris, the son of a horse trainer. John went on to become a veterinarian. To this day John and Reade remain good friends and of course John is Reade’s stable veterinarian.
In 1965 at age eighteen Reade drove to Fort Erie on opening day of the Summer meet and got a job as a swing groom for Pete (Gord) McCann, trainer for Windfields Farm.
The first thoroughbred horse he touched was Canebora, the triple crown winner in 1963. The big black stallion had returned to racing after failing to successfully settle a mare when retired to stud and looking back now Reade says that he should never have been in a stall with the stallion.
Working for $97.00 clear twice a month he would begin at 5 am and work until the last race of the day, and he loved it until after one year he realized that comparatively he wasn¹t getting paid very much and took a grooming job with Conn Smythe¹s outfit where he “hit the big time” making $65 a week. He was thrilled to be grooming and to this day says that it was the best outfit he had ever seen in Canada. “He wouldn¹t tolerate poor quality help or horses and everything was always spotless,” says Reade, “I try to model our barn after what he did.” The ambitious Reade left the Smythe barn because he was required to pony for the stable in the afternoon however he wanted to work in the mutuels, so he took a job galloping for first year trainer Gil Rowntree and owner Jack Stafford. Although Reade knew how to ride before coming to the racetrack he had never galloped race horses and it was an exciting experience.
He also held a third job, delivering lobsters, which required him to wait at the airport for the shipment to arrive to make sure nobody snagged them before making the delivery downtown.
|READE AGENT FOR JOCKEY GARY STAHLBAUM IN 1976
(GARY RODE 6 THAT DAY AND WON ON ALL OF THEM)
An injury to his knee after coming off a horse in the shedrow put an end to galloping for Reade and that was when he began what he describes as his favourite job at the track. In 1976 Reade became the agent for jockey Gary Stahlbaum and for the next six years the pair had a tremendous amount of success, winning 17 stake races the first season and to this day Reade still muses as to whether he should have continued on as an agent instead of the path he chose to pursue.
|In 1985 Reade began working as Racing Manager for Rick Kennedy and was responsible for plotting the careers of such horses as Afleet, One From Heaven and Storm On The Loose. Reade was sent to Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, England and Ireland to observe other trainers and gather information on the strategies and techniques that they used. It was a valuable experience which taught him to challenge and question what horses need and don¹t need, revealing that most of the training practices he had come to know were old wives tales. His travels provided him with the insight to do things that will get the most out of each individual horse and not to do things just because everyone else is doing it.
In 1990 Mr. Kennedy had wound down his stable to only a handful of horses and Reade began training them after opening a public stable where he invested his money into buying his own horses while trying to drum up new clients.
|READE AT THE GRAND NATIONAL RACECOURSE, AINTREE IN 1988
Thinking that Dubai was where the future was, Reade took a one week holiday in 1994 in the hopes of returning with some horses and owners however the only thing to come of the experience was a story in The Blood-Horse which Reade wrote and submitted to the magazine and it ended up running on the cover.
|READE AND JANIS IN 2004 |Reade has worked hard over the years and is constantly trying to get new clients and people in the business. His efforts have paid off and now he has 45 stalls at Woodbine. With the help of his wife Janis Maine, a former business executive whom he met while working as an agent, the stable sends out weekly progress reports on each horse via email to the owners as well as a newsletter and updates on their website. Janis also handles the majority of the paperwork duties of a trainer which allows Reade to focus more on the horses.|
||His success continues to accelerate each season and is currently the leading trainer at Woodbine in purse earnings and stakes winners. Reade has invested more than $100,000 in upgrading his designated barn at Woodbine, investments which he says has helped to improve the performance of the horses.
An Odyssey Performance Trainer was installed in 2002 and the well ventilated exerciser is used for both cooling out horses after training as well as warming them up before races. Reade says that the pre-race warm up helps with their performance in the first quarter mile of the race as well as helping them to come home in better condition.
In 2003 all of the stalls were fitted with the Soft Stall Flooring System which is made up of recycled tires under fitted mats providing the horse with a cushioned stall which is easier on the horse’s joints and provides a more restful sleep. “In the afternoons you would come in to feed and find 6 or 7 of the eight horses laying down sleeping.” says Reade.
Some of the other changes he has made is curbing the urge to run a horse for the sake of just running and now only enters horses if they have a good chance of winning, a strategy which has boasted his in the money percentage. “You have to be on the same page as the owners to do that.” says Reade.
Reade says that his greatest assets are that he reads all of the industry papers and magazines, a practice which he began at age 20, and that he has a good memory which helps him to know the pedigrees and determine when horses should run. Reading also keeps him up to date on the latest products and innovations.
Over the years Reade has served on the Boards of the HBPA and the CTHS as well as a stint as President of the Jockey¹s Agents in North America. In 2002 Reade was nominated and elected in as a member of the Jockey Club of Canada. He currently sits on the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame planning committee. Reade and Janis have lived in Etobicoke for 26 years and have expanded their involvement in horseracing to include their own band of 10 broodmares and have already had success with their homebreds, most notably an Elusive Quality filly named Elusive Thought who won the $150,000 Fury Stakes, and a Mazel Trick filly Ontheqt, who won the $159,900 Fanfreluche Stakes as a two year old and the $125,000 Star Shoot Stakes for three year olds at Woodbine. Reade continues to be rewarded for his training ability by scoring more stakes and graded stakes winners every year. This in turn has prompted new owners to send stakes level horses his way. Slew Valley is a one horse who campaigned in the United States for almost his entire career up until 2004 when his owners decided to send him to Reade at Woodbine. Slew Valley went on to win the Grade 3 Connaught Cup, and the Grade 2 King Edward Breeders Stakes in the same year. For horses like Slew Valley it can mean the difference between winning a graded stake or not.
Reade also keeps busy and has been quite successful with his hobby of showing birds, mainly chickens and ducks, which you will see around the barn at Woodbine.
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