While many were shocked to see Shane Sellers named to ride Ide Ball at Evangeline Downs July 2 after 4 ½ years away from the saddle, another surprise came in noting the trainer of the horse—former jockey Mark Guidry, who is now making his way as a conditioner in his native Louisiana.
The affable Guidry, who finished a sterling riding career in 2007 with more than 5,000 lifetime victories, has been training now for just over a year, and has posted seven victories from 82 starts. He currently has 23 head in his shedrow.
“I’m a little tough on the riders,” Guidry said with a laugh. “I get on about half of them in the mornings, and while other riders might get off and say, ‘He went good; he went good,’ I point out three or four different things that are wrong. I nit-pick to the point where the grooms are like, ‘Damn, boss.’ But it’s a huge advantage to be able to ride them, I enjoy it, and it’s a big part of my program.”
During his riding career, Guidry won stakes partnering with such horses as Black Tie Affair, Lemons Forever, Leah’s Secret, Balto Star, Perfect Drift, Benny the Bull, Sand Springs, Riskaverse, and Buzzard’s Bay.
Guidry, who will turn 50 in August, said the biggest adjustments to life as a trainer are the early hours and the workload.
“When you ride, you get off them and you point out something and make a suggestion or two, and that’s it,” noted Guidry. “But now, you have so many more details to pay attention to. I like it; I’m not complaining. I enjoy what I’m doing, and it’s something I can do for years to come. I’ve got a lot to learn, but I have time, and I’ll get it.”
Guidry’s base is the training center that used to be the Evangeline Downs racetrack before a new facility was built. Having cut his teeth as a child on the Louisiana bush track circuit and as a teenager at the bullrings around the state, Guidry is no more than 15 minutes away from his childhood home.
“I’ve made a big circle, right back where I started from,” he said. “It’s good to be back home, though it’s hot as hell. If the heat don’t kill me, I’ll be OK.”
Among Guidry’s clients are brothers Danny and Larry Bell. Danny Bell owns Bodoc, a Najran gelding who zipped 4 ½ furlongs in :52.42 to break his maiden at first asking at Evangeline May 23. Guidry thinks he could be an effective runner up to a mile.
“I’m just trying to manage them properly, and hopefully one day get some good enough to hit the road for the big races,” he said. “Whether you reach your goals or not, who knows, but you always got to keep them out there.”
As for riding the veteran Sellers, who has had a troubled personal life over the last several years, Guidry noted, “Shane’s attitude is good right now, and I’m proud of him. He seems to have quit fighting his demons; he’s trying to do the right things and repair the bridges he’s burned. He looks great on a horse. I’ve never seen him so humble, and I’ve been knowing him a long, long time. I wish him all the luck in the world.”
Those that came to know Guidry over his 31-year riding career undoubtedly wish the same for him in his new endeavor.