WASHINGTON, Pa. — For more than 20 years, Sarah Andrews paid her dues, working as an assistant trainer for a number of stables, including some of the most prominent in harness racing. All that hard work and learning has paid off, as Andrews has emerged as one of the leading percentage trainers at The Meadows this year.
Harness racing was an unusual career choice for the Illinois native, whose family has little background in the sport. But when Andrews was 16, a family friend took her to the nearby Marengo, Ill. farm of trainer John Butenschoen. Except for a brief, unhappy stint in a manufacturing plant, she’s been involved with Standardbreds ever since.
After working for Butenschoen, she relocated to the New Jersey stable of Carl Porcelli, Jr. — she conditioned a few of her own horses as well — before signing on with trainer Joe Holloway.
“I gave up my horses in New Jersey to work for Joe, be around some nice horses and learn about the ‘baby’ end of the business,” Andrews said. “I’ve always worked for people I thought could teach me something, and I’m using what I’ve learned from all of them.”
For Holloway, she assisted with some of the sport’s superstars, including Always B Miki, who would go on to become the fastest Standardbred ever, and Breeders Crown champion Divine Caroline.
“She did a lot of work with Divine Caroline,” Holloway recalls. “She helped the horse, and that helped her also.”
When Andrews, 42, thought she might ready to start her own public stable, Holloway had some advice for her:
“I said, ‘You’re not going to stay here forever.’ I thought The Meadows was a good place for her to set up. She had no deep roots here, so it was easier for her to make the move. I think it’s paid off for her,” he said.
Andrews wasn’t an instant success at The Meadows, but it was pretty darn close. In 2017, only her second full season at the track, she had a breakout year, sending out 34 winners and compiling a highly respectable .253 UTR. She’s on track to eclipse those results this year; her current .344 UTR places her fourth among The Meadows trainers.
Meanwhile, her stable has grown from a couple horses to 14 representing a diversity of owners. Upgrading her stock is her next objective.
“We’re going to the Meadowlands sale next month to see if we can get some actual power horses,” she said.
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