Trainer Rodney Faulkner hit the 1,000 career-win milestone Sept. 9 when Fire Chief won the second race at Thistledown.
“I’ve had good owners, good grooms, and fast horses,” said Faulkner, who is based at Thistledown. “My family’s been in racing a long time, and I learned under my dad. The hardest worker in my barn and my biggest supporter is my wife, Peggy. She was the biggest win of my life.”
The 46-year-old trainer grew up working for his father, long-time trainer Joe Faulkner, who also maintains a string at Thistledown. By age 12 the younger Faulkner was riding match races in the Texas hill country. He eventually outgrew riding but continued working for his dad, shipping to Texas tracks and fairs from the family farm in Big Spring. Rodney took out his own trainer’s license at age 18 and scored his first win at now-closed Bandera Downs. Many of his early wins came on the Texas fair circuit.
Today he has 34 horses in training at Thistledown and races primarily in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Some of his string race in the silks of R&P Racing Stables Inc., a partnership with Peggy, an assisted-living nurse who also runs the couple’s farm in Berlin Center. Others are owned separately either by Faulkner or his wife, while still others are trained for clients, including Skipper and Debbie Hamilton of Texas. In addition to the horses in training, Faulkner has another 12 horses, including six yearlings, on the Berlin Center farm.