Page 42 - NM Winter 2023
P. 42

                      He won the rich QH Futurity in 1993. He finished third in the Sunland Park jockey standings in 1993-94, with an injury and 79 winners. He won the Texas Breeders Cup Derby, and then switched to a Thoroughbred for the win in the Bold Ego Handicap on a 26-1 longshot. There were also the Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap, the New Mexican Allowance Stake, and the Budweiser Handicap. He was a tall, lanky, nice-looking, 23-year-old kid who was so damned hungry.
His love of riding and his off-the- charts level of competitiveness allowed him to tough it out for four more years of “next times.”
“There are two things I’ve always valued,” Fincher noted. “The first
is to be brutally honest
with myself, with my clients, with the assessments of the horses in my barn. The day you begin deviating from that level of honesty is the day real problems begin.
“I had to be honest and admit riding was over for me. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I burned and hurt from hunger, and I wasn’t being honest with anyone to think I could put in a winning ride while feeling that way. It was time to move on.”
That was being brutally honest. It was also the moment part of the music died for Fincher.
Okay. Time to move on. That was fine, but where?
Fincher’s father was a jockey, and his mother was a trainer. He, along with his brother, Rhett, were literally born into racing (and a little bit into Gone with the Wind, which is how his brother’s name was selected.) Did it ever occur to Fincher there might be interesting lines of work other than horses?
“I thought about it very seriously,”
he admitted, “and I looked around with
an open mind. I came up with exactly nothing. Everybody says they’re competitive but, when I say it, I’m describing something way beyond the ordinary.
“I can’t do anything that includes a lot of just sitting around. I need action and bottom-line competition to make me tick. I couldn’t come up with anything other than horse training, which meant moving from jockey to trainer.
“It was a huge adjustment for me. I was still a hands-on participant, but it was much, much different. It may be hard for some people to understand, but I had to blend my values. Brutal honesty was still at the top of the list, but it needed to be combined with my second guiding principal which says a man is only as good as his word.
“I started the training chapter of my career with 10 horses. As I remember, the most expensive one was in the $5,000 range. The fact that I’d been around horses all my life and had done well as a jockey were both in my favor. I was still extremely competitive and, luckily, I’d started building my network of contacts when I was young. To this day, I don’t advertise, and I don’t go around asking owners for their horses. My objective has always been to let my horses speak for me. Potential owners can read my stats and watch my horses on the track. That’s my advertising.”
Fincher has not been a so-called overnight success. He’s worked hard and exercised discipline. In many ways, he could be characterized as methodical in his program. He’s consistent. And, of course, brutally honest.
40 New Mexico Horse Breeder
 Todd finished third in the Sunland Park jockey standings in 1993-94, with an injury and 79 winners.

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