Trainer Greg Fox could be the most educated man currently on the backside of Belmont Park. The young conditioner grew up in an academic home where his parents were well-respected college professors and he holds degrees from Boston and Tufts Universities.
But on June 9, Fox will add another accomplishment to his impressive resume when he sends out Slew's Tizzy in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Slew's Tizzy will be Fox's first starter in a classic event.
"I've had a special feeling about this horse since the first time I laid eyes on him when he was just a foal," said Fox outside Barn 19 Thursday morning. Fox also serves as a bloodstock consultant for the Lacombe family. "That's one of the reasons that we did not sell him. He was just special from the beginning."
Fox's interest in horses developed slowly, but it was a passion that could not be denied. His interests in racing changed the direction of his educational career.
His father was the chairman of the biology department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his mother published books about women's history. Fox began his education at Bard College in New York where he competed as a long-distance runner. While he was at Bard, he visited a training center and became hooked on horses as athletes.
He left the smaller Bard for Boston University where he studied applied anatomy and physiology. He also continued his running career at the Division I college. "Going from being a big fish in a small pond at Bard to competing against top athletes in Division I was a very humbling experience."
After graduation, Fox moved to Denmark for one year where he did research on muscle metabolism and published a paper he credits for his acceptance to veterinary school at Tufts.
After graduating veterinary school, Fox moved to the middle of Virginia's horse country before relocating to Maryland where he was a racetrack veterinarian at Laurel and Pimlico. He moved to Kentucky 1993.
After working several years as a racetrack veterinarian, Fox decided to switch gears and took up training when his wife, Jamie, who was a horse trainer, became pregnant with the couple's second child. The Fox's have two children, Tanner, who is a junior at Sayre High School in Lexington, and 2-year-old Tyler.
Fox's connections from his time as a veterinarian allowed for his business to grow and he now has a 25-horse stable which is based near Lexington at his 37-acre Fox Stable located adjacent to the Thoroughbred Center.
"It certainly helps at times, having a background as a vet," Fox said. "The role of a trainer and that of a veterinarian are not as closely linked as you might expect. As a trainer I have learned what to do with a horse and what not to do with a horse. And usually the horses are showing you subtle things and you are trying to pick up on those little hints. As a vet, you are usually brought in where there is a problem. And that is why I like doing it (training horses). That is one of the challenges about training that I find rewarding… if I can identify issues at a very early stage so they can be addressed in a conservative way and never materialize."
The opportunity to run a horse in the Belmont, Fox said, is one of the most wonderful experiences of his life.
"This has just been a great ride," Fox said. "The whole thing with this horse is to just let him run. He is a very smart horse."