Seth Benzel, Todd Pletcher’s New York assistant, will open a public racing stable of his own starting May 1.
Benzel has established a firm foundation in the racing industry - first as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and more recently with Pletcher – and plans to launch his operation at Saratoga with 20 horses, the majority owned by Gary and Mary West.
Benzel, 33, began his training career at Finger Lakes when he was 18, but followed a two-year tenure at the track with four years of education. After studying equine science and fine arts at Lake Eire College, he returned to racing full-time as an assistant to Mott for 4 ½-years, then signed on with Pletcher in June of 2002.
Pletcher, the Eclipse Award-winning trainer of the past four years, has maintained a record-setting pace since leaving the barn of his mentor, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, in 1995. Last year alone, Benzel worked to assist him with top runners such as Rags to Riches, English Channel, Scat Daddy, Octave, and Panty Raid. Still, Benzel said, the time was right for the move.
“I basically thought it was all coming together, not only where I am in my career but also in the amount of interest I was gaining from others,” he remarked. “People said they liked what they saw in me and were interested in what I was doing beyond (working for) Todd. No doubt, being part of his team and that whole experience has really been a dream, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. That’s definitely part of the reason I’ve been patient about making this move. Working with Todd has been nothing but positive and he’s been very supportive.”
According to the Daily Racing Form, assistant Tristan Barry will take over Benzel's role in Saratoga while the trainer reviews applications for an assistant at Belmont.