New Mexico-based trainer Joel Marr tallied his 1,000th career Thoroughbred victory by winning the 11th race Nov. 11 at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., with Sweet Diamond.
"To me, it's about each one," Marr said. "Those special horses are what makes it fun and makes it worth it to me."
The 46-year-old trainer from Tularosa, N.M., collected his first victory in 1991. His father, Gerald, is also a trainer. Marr followed in his father's footsteps after receiving his bachelor's degree in animal science with a minor in business from New Mexico State University in 1989.
"I've been around it all my life and so it's something that just came naturally," Marr said. "I decided not to go work for anybody and started on my own."
Marr leads all trainers in Zia Park's $2 million New Mexico Cup series with 21 victories. Four New Mexico Cup wins came with stable star Peppers Pride, a winner of 19 career victories without a loss from 2005 to 2008.
"She was my favorite," Marr said. "She was different than any other horse. She was special, kind of horse-slash-human. She was that smart and always had that look in her eyes."
Marr notched four wins on the 2014 New Mexico Cup Day Oct. 26. All four victories came with horses making their first starts off layoffs.
"It's something you want to have all your breeds ready for if they're that caliber because it's the best purses," Marr said of New Mexico Cup Day. "There's so many downs and ups, and I try to keep it even-keeled. I'm more about the process. I like horses that try, and it makes you want to try more for them. You have to do everything right because you know they're going to try."
Despite all his success, Marr is quick to deflect the credit to a team that has been with him for many years. Armando Gonzalez and Antonio Leos have been his grooms for 20 years and 15 years, respectively. Tony Mathiasen has been his assistant trainer of six years. Marr also credits his wife, Teresa, a former jockey in New Mexico. They have two children: Shacie, 12, and Shaeden, 10.
"It takes a lot of time and effort to get something done right, and you need to have good people around you," Marr said. "You can't do it by yourself, and I have a lot of good people that have been with me for a long time."