Page 49 - August 2019
P. 49

                                                             “I like coming to the track. I come here every morning and afternoon. It’s important to me.”
John was driving heavy equipment at the time, but was always looking for something to do during the winter when that slowed down. He was roping, but decided he’d like to go watch the chariot races.
“I decided I had to do that,” he says. He got a pair of mares, ran the chariots and really enjoyed it — so much so that he won his division at the World Championship Chariot Races.
Around that time, he started breaking Thoroughbred colts for a man named Joe Davis, who told John that his sister, a trainer in Phoenix, Arizona, loved the way the colts came back. Joe suggested that John start training racehorses. That sparked John’s interest and he got his first official win in 1966 with Eddie Rain (Eddie Atkin-Vivandier, Dangerous Brown Dan) at Pocatello Downs. “I decided I liked that best; I didn’t have to ask for another man’s opinion,” he says. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Meanwhile, Carol noticed that their mare, Reed’s Honey, had some speed. “We got her
about half fit, and she won her first race by about 10 lengths,” Carol says. “We just went from there. We decided to go to Denver around 1967.”
“I’d won quite a few races around home,” John says. “That fall I had three nice horses and so I took my vacation, and Carol and I went down there and did really well. So the next year, we went back and did a little better.”
In 1970, they had a couple of pretty
good geldings, so John asked his friend Blane Schvaneveldt if he’d take them to California and run them. Blane asked why he didn’t take them himself.
“John didn’t think he was good enough,” Carol says, “but Blane said, ‘Son, you’re not going to get good enough in Pocatello, Idaho. It only costs 10 percent to go first class.’”
Blane talked John into going to California, where John worked for him at Bay Meadows for an entire meet. “We raced on the fairs in 1970, and came down here, and we’ve been here ever since,” Carol says.
When they decided to head for the Sunshine State, Carol’s father — John’s foreman at his mining company job — half kidded that they were going to end up sleeping in a tent alongside the road and driving an old pickup truck.
But John had a plan. In addition to his heavy equipment driving, he also laid carpet so he thought he’d take his tools along as a fall-back.
“When I told Carol, she said, ‘John, I want you to sell those tools.’ I said, ‘I’ve got to make a living.’ But she said, ‘That’s it. Either you’re going to go down and make a living or you’re not, but get rid of those tools so you don’t have anything to fall back on.’ So that was that.”
“We made up our mind that’s what we were going to have to do, and the first two years, we slept in the tack room,” Carol says. “The kids went home during school season and stayed with my parents, and we had them in the summer.
 SPEEDHORSE, August 2019 47
      John at the 1987 PCQHRA Sale.
                   John on his pony horse Rusty in 1979.
John with owners Jackie and Rod MacPherson Jr. after winning the 1999 California Sires’ Cup Futurity with Separatist.

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