Hawthorne Racecourse (3/19/10)
Contact: Ron Uchman
Following in his Father's Footsteps
For those who have been involved in Chicago Thoroughbred racing for any amount of time, you have seen the same names atop the training standings. In the past ten years, encompassing 19 race meets at Hawthorne, all but one of those meets has been won by either: Frank Kirby, Tom Tomillo, Wayne Catalano, Mike Reavis, or Roger Brueggemann. While all of these greats are still major players on the scene, there is a new breed of trainers that not only brings a younger look to the game, but they are contending for the top training spot.
The new blood making the biggest impact this meet is 32-year-old Chris Dorris. Chris had a great influence in getting his career started as he came into this game under his father, Tom Dorris. Tom is a top ten trainer at Hawthorne in both wins and earnings and has given Chris a great knowledge of the game.
“I got started with my dad when I would come around the barn as a youngster,” stated the younger Dorris. “I began by walking hots and mucking stalls when I was 12 years old and I just tried to learn as much from my dad as possible.”
Getting his racing legs under him wasn’t the only thing for Dorris as he also has a penchant for hoops. Chris played a couple of years of college basketball before receiving his degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
After graduating, Dorris entered the training game, posting his first career victory at Hawthorne with a mare named Lazy Sahana in a first level allowance in the fall of 2001.
In recent years, Dorris has raced throughout the Midwest before settling back in at Hawthorne in the past year and growing his stable.
“Currently I have 32 horses in training and I would like to keep anywhere between 30 to 35 horses at any time,” said Dorris. “I will claim horses or have horses claimed from me so that figure can shift a few at any time, but I like the claiming game.”
Dorris has excelled at the claiming game, taking horses and moving them up the ladder time and again. “That part of racing is the challenge. I always hope to get a horse and move it up to win. The best horse in my barn right now, Officer Frank, is one of those examples. This is a horse that we claimed for $5,000 in the summer of 2009 and we just won the second-level state-bred allowance with him. I have high hopes that he can compete at the stakes level with Illinois-breds.”
Another runner that Dorris has really seen improve is five-year-old gelding Face the Fire. “Face the Fire is a horse we claimed early in 2008. He took a little time to come around but has really improved with age.” Face the Fire has won six times since being claimed, including twice last fall and then again this March in a tough starter allowance.
2010 has been the best meet thus far in regards to percentage for Dorris, as he currently sits in second in the trainer standings behind Frank Kirby. When asked about his success and his goals, Dorris feels his time is coming, “I am very happy with the current meet but I don’t think I can contend just yet for the title,” stated Dorris. “I have a lot of fit and ready horses, but so does Frank Kirby, Mike Reavis, and Roger Brueggemann. Would I like to win a title, of course, and I think I can. I just don’t know if I have the bullets just yet.”
When asked about his age and the younger group of trainers, Dorris feels that currently there is a great mix in the game, “I am glad to see that there are more young trainers in the game. I take nothing away from the guys that have been around for a while, they are all great trainers and I respect them all. But it is also good to see some younger people like myself, Tammy Domenosky, and Joel Berndt winning races too.”
While Dorris continues to have a great meet and is on the verge of training titles to come, he was asked if there are any of the great trainers in Chicago that he has learned from or tried to pattern himself after, “Only one, my dad,” said Dorris. He picked a great role model.
Hawthorne Race Course begins racing on Friday, February 12 and runs through Sunday, April 25. First post time daily is 1:35 pm. For racing schedule and details on promotions and parties at Hawthorne, visit www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.