Michael Dickinson

Michael Dickinson

Anne M. Eberhardt

Dickinson Decides to Return to Training

He will be based at his Tapeta Farm in Maryland and hopes to get 20-30 horses.

Michael Dickinson announced Aug. 3 he will return to training racehorses this fall after a seven-year break.

Known as a "mad genius" for training feats such as Da Hoss' two Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) wins--—the second coming off a two-year layoff and a single prep race—Dickinson also trained Tapit , currently North America's leading sire. Dickinson also created Tapeta, a synthetic material used for racetracks and training centers around the world.

Dickinson said he will train at his Tapeta Farm in North East, Md. He said he plans to use new training methods and technologies he picked up while traveling overseas to promote his Tapeta Footings, and the high-touch program will accommodate no more than 20-30 horses.

"This is going to be very intense, and I've got a lot of levers to pull," he said. "If I had 100 horses, I wouldn't have enough arms."

Dickinson's stable will begin accepting horses in early September and will target the New York circuit.

"I really got serious about (returning to training) last year," Dickinson said. "I am primarily a horse lover. I love racing, but I love horses more. I'm never going to lose sight of that."

Dickinson, 65, "retired" from training at the request of his wife, Joan Wakefield, to market Tapeta Footings overseas. In the United States, two racetracks have Tapeta surfaces: Golden Gate Fields in California and Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Pennsylvania.

While marketing Tapeta, Dickinson said he studied training methods "picked up from other industries" and conducted his own trials. He said the good methods currently in use will remain, but "a lot of new ideas" will be added to his operation.

Tapeta Farm had been on the market for years, but that's no longer the case. Dickinson said the six turf surfaces at the farm have been well-maintained, and the Tapeta tracks have been resurfaced. About 50 acres were added at the farm to bring total acreage to 250.

Dickinson said he will continue to assist his wife with research and development for new surfaces. On the training side, he said members of his former staff have asked to return.