After years of training for other clients and working both in and out of the business, Pedro Sobarzo is showing how to succeed and reach the winner’s circle with just a small stable of claiming horses that he both trains and owns at Calder Casino & Race Course.
The 73-year-old trainer currently maintains his stable of four to five horses, which he started to claime beginning in 2011. Back when he trained for other owners, he had many more horses under his care.
“I don’t wait for the horses to come to me, I go to the horses,” said Sobarzo. “I used to have owners and trained for them. That’s the reason I started on my own, to improve horses and show, because a lot of people do not remember me.”
Throughout his training career his horses have earned more than $1 million; as an owner his horses have already earned more than $200,000.
Sobarzo entered the claiming game with Livin Large, who he claimed at Gulfstream in April 2011 out of a 5-furlong $15,000 claiming race on the turf where he finished third. Sobarzo lost Livin Large to a claim on March 14 at Calder after he won a 7-furlong $6,250 claiming race. That win was Sobarzo’s second on the day. His first came with Tinasutopianvision in a 7-furlong $6,250 claiming race, who he had just claimed one week before on March 6 from a 1-mile $6,250 claiming at Gulfstream, where she finished third.
When Sobarzo loses one to a claim, he works fast to claim another horse to maintain the same number of horses in his stable. His most recent claim was on March 15 just one day after losing Livin Large. Sobarzo picked up Gaetano T from a 6-furlong $6,250 claiming race, where he finished third.
Sobarzo spent much of his life working with horses in a variety of positions, ranging from working as a jockey in his native Chile to holding various titles after coming to the United States on a contract to work with horses including exercise rider, jockey agent, starter, valet, and trainer. He traveled between multiple tracks in multiple states along the East coast in the same day. He was the exercise rider for Spectacular Bid, who became a member of the racing Hall of Fame in 1982, and he won three races in one day as a trainer at Gulfstream Park in 1987 – all at varying levels of racing conditions including a stakes race.
Eventually Sobarzo needed a change, which led him to working outside of the horse racing industry for awhile, including a stint overseas before his return to the United States.
“I stayed in Columbia for a little bit over a year,” said Sobarzo. “When I came back I had some money, but not enough to buy a horse. A friend of mine came to work for a cable company. I worked 15 years for the cable company, after attending university and receiving the title of line tech. When it was time to retire, I retired from the cable company and then I had some extra money. I bought my first horse a couple years ago for Manny Tortora that did very good and then I claimed Livin Large, the horse I lost this weekend, and then after that I started training until now.”
Sobarzo almost didn’t return to training after his retirement from the cable company. He thought about returning overseas to live out his retirement, but someone very close to him convinced him otherwise.
“I told my wife I wanted to go back overseas,” said Sobarzo. “She said no, if you want to go overseas, go by yourself. Then I said well, I’ll go back to the horses because that’s what I did all my life. They brought me to this country, they paid for my papers, they paid for my citizenship, and now I have my citizenship, everything.”
While Sobarzo’s stable is currently based with his own horses, he is looking to take on horses for other owners as well, a job he did previously for many years.
“I trained for other people all my life but now just starting again after 15 years it was a little hard to find a new owner,” said Sobarzo. “That’s why I keep training for myself, but I am waiting for any owner that wants to give me some horses. I’ll be glad to take them because that was my job all the time.”
Pedro Sobarzo will not be the only Sobarzo name hitting the program in the future, as his son Bernardo is beginning his own training career and is learning from his father’s experience.