(from Golden Gate Fields)
Steve Specht, a mainstay in the Northern California training ranks since the mid-1980s, collected his 1,000th career victory Oct. 28 at Golden Gate Fields when his 2-year-old filly Veillit' won the fifth race.
Specht, 59, was introduced to horse racing by his father, Robert, who trained horses in Illinois. A native of Chicago, Specht served as his father's assistant until his death in 1970. Specht raced at Chicago-area
tracks for several years before moving his stable to Northern California in 1986.
Veillit' was Specht's 6,330th career starter and paid $22.80 to win in the $12,500 claiming race for 2-year-old fillies. Veillit' is owned by Specht's longtime clients, Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, and was ridden to victory by Specht's go-to jockey, Frank Alvarado.
"I was happy to win with the Williams and Frank," said Specht. "They are very good clients and breed a lot of horses. Frank has won a lot of races for me, and some pretty big ones."
Specht and Alvarado teamed up for their biggest victory in 2007 when they traveled to Gulfstream Park in Florida and captured the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic with McCann's Mojave.
"That was by far the biggest purse I've ever won and McCann's Mojave is by far the best horse I've ever trained," said Specht, who has saddled many multiple stakes winners, including the Williams' Lady Railrider, who won the Pacific Heights Stakes at Golden Gate Fields Ot. 24 with Alvarado aboard.
I'madrifter, who won a pair of $100,000 stakes at Golden Gate Fields (the 2002 Lafayette Handicap and the 2003 Berkeley Handicap), and Our Mango, who paid $100.20 to win after shocking her opponents in the 2004 California Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, are two of Specht's other notable stakes performers.
Despite the early and long hours, Specht still enjoys training.
"I still get a kick out of it," said Specht of his profession. "Naturally the big races are great, but when you win anything it's still fun."