Owner Payson Splits With Trainer Bond

After a 13-year association, Virginia Kraft Payson has taken her horses from trainer James Bond and distributed the 14 to five trainers: Allison Register, Bruce Miller, Tom Voss, Sonny Wigginton, and Mary Jo Lohmeier.

"My horses have always done better in smaller barns," Payson said. "I think they get more individual attention, and I felt it would be good to move them around with a few other trainers."

Voss delivered quickly. He won with Belle Eternelle, the first Payson horse he saddled, at Saratoga.

Payson moved her horses in late August, but said she has been planning to make the change since January. "When we get all our financial figures for the previous year, it was clear that I was losing a vast amount of money, as well as a lot of horses," she said. "I decided that I needed to do something different, and wanted to.

"I've been investigating and exploring. As a writer, I'm an old reporter and researcher. So I've been seriously pulling stats and watching trainers all spring. I've been trying to decide exactly what I wanted to do with my barn."

Payson and Bond had a long, successful run. The highest-profile accomplishments were by the New York-bred gelding L'Carriere, who was second to Cigar in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), and third to Cigar in the first Dubai World Cup in 1996. In recent years, the situation changed.

"We just weren't winning races for her," Bond said. "You are like a baseball manager in this game, and you do have to win races. She thought it was time to try something different."

Bond already has arranged for stalls at Payson Park in Florida for the winter season, and hopes to negotiate a new lease to use Payson's private barn in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Payson was the client whose horses enabled Bond to graduate from the low-profile Finger Lakes Race Track in western New York to the top level of the sport. Among the standouts he has developed are Behrens and Will's Way.

Payson said she intends to compete in New York, "and anywhere else that we get invited."