Southern California based Bruce Headley has trained for nearly sixty years during which time he has cultivated a well-earned reputation for being a “clean trainer”, largely shunning modern veterinary practices which emphasize a reliance on drugs to keep a horse sound and fit. Instead, his philosophy is a simple, natural one: when in doubt, give the horse time to heal on its own.
It’s a philosophy that has stood Headley in fine stead over the years. He has one Breeders’ Cup winner, seven individual GI winners, and hundreds of stakes winners next to his name. What’s more, he’s responsible for two of only a handful of horses to have won graded stakes races at nine years of age at Santa Anita. In short, he’s a living testament to the notion that drugs aren’t a prerequisite to winning.
In a statement to WHOA, Headley said:
“At 16 I began galloping 15 to 30 horses a day during the Korean War for the most and the best California horsemen. I learned valuable horsemanship from them.
In the 60’s I began buying horses in partnerships. I selected, broke, and initially galloped these horses which included over 125 stakes winners, among them Eclipse winner KONA GOLD and other Grade 1 winners. These horses raced on water, hay and oats.
In the history of Santa Anita only four horses have won graded stakes at the age of nine. I trained two of these horses.
I attribute my horses’ longevity and soundness to running drug free. Water, hay and oats are essential to the longevity of our thoroughbreds and the integrity of horse racing as a national sport.”
Trainers continue to answer the call and join the effort to support the Horseracing Integrity Act before Congress. Currently WHOA’s roster hosts 82 trainers; including 68 thoroughbred and 10 standardbred trainers. Momentum for change is growing on the backside.
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