Trainer Keith Nations is getting it done on the racetrack and he has for quite some time now. The conditioner has had success coast to coast and although he is not a household name, he is a core horseman that does the right thing for his runners.
He has been successful in California and trainer Keith Nations is not one to give up. He has always been a high-percentage guy but he doesn’t always deal with the classiest of horses. A couple of years ago, he won at a 26% clip with limited starters. Just like in most cases, it comes down to money and he was just not making enough cash on the Northern California Fair Circuit to project a lively future. He decided to go East, unlike Horace Greeley.
His other option would have been to try the tough Southern California circuit but he would have been knocking heads with some of the best in the business. After discussing the situation with his wife, trainer Keith Nations decided to ship his business to Parx Racing in Philadelphia. That track has extremely good purses because of the casino operations and a smaller-type barn can become prosperous.
His wife Cheryl stayed on in her position as vice president of marketing at the University of Washington so trainer Keith Nations was on his own.
He took a small contingent of horses to Philly and basically started all over again.
The key to success is hard work and trainer Keith Nations has that trait down pat. In 2014 he won with 27 of his 105 starters. That shows he can not only keep horses healthy but that he can read a condition book and spot horses properly.
A condition book is like a script for an actor. The racing secretary at each track writes the conditions for each race that will be carded and the book comes out every three or four weeks. To spot horses with accuracy, trainers must know the condition book inside and out so to place their horses in the best possible spots to succeed.
Trainer Keith Nations built that tiny contingent he brought to Philly to a stable of over 50 horses.
The proximity of dozens of tracks to choose from is a luxury of stables on the East Coast. One of the places that has been kind to trainer Keith Nations is Delaware Park.
The track is a throwback to the glory years of racing as the setting is idyllic. The stalls where the horses are stabled are airy and comfortable for the runners and a happy horse is a good horse.
One of the hardest things for trainers to do is to deal with meddling owners. Granted, they put up the money and should have a major say it what happens but micromanaging is not the way to thrive in horseracing.
Trainer Keith Nation has owners that are more like friends than clients. They know it’s a tough game and the let the trainer do his job rather than second guessing his every move.
Nations’ wife retired from her post at the University of Washington and now handles the business end of the stable operation. And she is kept busy. They are both looking forward to the Delaware Park meeting with starts next month. In 2016, he finished third in the trainer standings at Delaware Park with a record of 25 wins from 99 starts and he has a few quality horses to showcase.
Morning Fire is a Friesan Fire colt that won the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last year and then came back to finish third in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at the same track.
He has won four of sixteen and has been in the exacta half the time. His best asset is his speed but he doesn’t need to lead to win.
Mister Nofty is a runner that should do well at Delaware in this upcoming meet. He has not raced since September of last year but he has shown he can fire fresh. He was legged up at Tampa Bay Downs and posted a sharp best of the morning three-furlong workout at Delaware on May 8.
Rockin may not be the best of trainer Keith Nations runners but she has promise. She graduated on grass and the trainer thought enough of her to try a stakes to kick off 2017. This miss cost $190,000 and the feeling is that we have not seen the best of her.
Nations has a good eye for a purchase and he showed that with Martini Glass. He claimed the filly for $16,000 at Tampa in her racing debut and she has responded to her new surroundings. She is seven for thirteen in her career, is unbeaten in three starts this year, and Nations gave her a shot in the Our Mims Stakes last year. She has been agile enough to win sprinting and routing so Nations has options.
What is the best way to approach the horses by trainer Keith Nations on a daily basis?
When Nations switches jockeys, he has hit at 28% in the last 5 years. Victor Carrasco is one of his favorite jockeys to go to for a win.
Switching surfaces is an underrated handicapping angle. It can allow trainer to conditions horses in one race while really pointing to another. When Nations switches a horse from turf to dirt this is the time to get down on his runners. He has hit with 22 of 67 of these types in the last five years with a median payoff of 5-2 and 57% of them ran in the money. Blue Shine is one of these runners and the racer was the beaten favorite on May 4 at Penn National. If the filly comes back in a $25,000 claimer, get down.
Nations is extremely potent when he drops a horse into a maiden claimer after the runner was racing with Maiden Special Weight rivals. He has hit at 33% the last 5 years with that ploy. When Nations stretches horses out from a sprint to a route pay attention. He has hit with 23% of those runners in the last 5 years.
The best thing to jump on with Nations horses is when he brings them back within 7 days. He has popped with 8 of 14 of those runners the last 5 years and two others ran second.
Watch for Delaware Park to open and pay strict attention to trainer Keith Nations.
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