Meanwhile in … Louisville: back to the 70s as Shug McGaughey appoints Neil Howard as assistant

Horse Racing Neil Howard trainer
Neil Howard: Mineshaft trainer is to assist Shug McGaughey. Photo: Thoroughbred OwnerView

USA: A septuagenarian alliance is forming in Kentucky where two of America’s senior – and most esteemed – trainers Shug McGaughey and Neil Howard are to work together.

New York-based Hall of Fame trainer McGaughey needed a new assistant to run his Churchill Downs division, but rather than advertise the post, he approached longstanding friend Howard, who at 72 is two years older than McGaughey.

McGaughey would struggle to find a better-qualified candidate than Howard, whose 42-year career, in which he has trained 1,256 winners and earned more than $53 million in prize-money, peaked with the successes of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft and 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

“The last year or two, I’d been thinking of doing something like this,” Howard told the Daily Racing Form. “Shug recently presented me with this opportunity and I took it. That’s the long and short of it.”

Howard will wind down his barn of ten horses to take on his new role for McGaughey who wants to have a bigger presence at Churchill Downs to target improving purses.

“I want to take advantage of what’s going on in Kentucky,” said McGaughey, who has trained more than 2,100 winners and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. “I think with Neil there handling things for us, it’s going to be a big, big, big plus for our operation.”

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