One decade ago Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher were considered the best trainers in their respective regions of the country.
Ten years later, little has changed regarding the high status of all three trainers, but statistically speaking, two new faces have emerged to challenge for top billing.
Chad Brown was just getting started in 2010, but it could be argued that no trainer has been more successful over the past seven years. He always has been lethal on turf, but he continues to enhance his game on dirt as well, where he is winning at a 25 percent clip this year.
Few trainers have elevated their status more lately than Brad Cox. He is ahead of Brown in earnings, wins and win percentage in 2020 and certainly will be a finalist for an Eclipse Award after a record-tying four Breeders’ Cup wins this year.
Many factors are in play when evaluating the top trainers in North America. Some consider wins an important statistic while others downplay that figure as simply volume based.
Asmussen has dominated the win column in 2020 with his big operation. He came into the week with 403 victories. For comparison’s sake Baffert, who is only $1 million behind Asmussen in earnings, has had only 301 starters all year.
Hall of Fame trainers such as Baffert, Pletcher, Shug McGaughey and Bill Mott no longer rely on claimers to grind out their earnings. High-percentage trainers such as Robertino Diodoro, Jamie Ness, Karl Broberg, Claudio Gonzalez, Saffie Joseph Jr. and Jonathan Wong use the claiming ranks to produce numbers.
Some prefer trainers with the highest win percentages; others factor in the class level where conditioners typically run.
Factoring earnings, wins, win percentage, in-the-money percentage, Grade 1 scores and win percentage off the claim, HRN put together a numbers-based list of the top 20 trainers in North America.
Among the finds: Wesley Ward is 14 percent better on the dirt than the turf this year.
Note: Only trainers hitting at 15% or higher with earnings topping $3 million and at least 50 wins were considered. All monetary figures are in United States dollars.
|Trainer||Earnings (millions)||Wins||Win %||ITM %||Dirt %||Turf %||Grade 1 wins||Off the Claim %|
|Saffie Joseph Jr.||$4.8||121||22||52||24||22||0||27%|
Highest percentage dirt trainers (among 20 listed)
Wesley Ward – 34%
Bob Baffert – 32%
Jonathan Wong – 27%
Peter Miller – 26%
Brad Cox – 26%
Jamie Ness – 26%
Highest percentage turf trainers (among 20 listed)
Jonathan Wong – 27%
Jamie Ness – 24%
Chad Brown – 23%
Shug McGaughey – 23%
ª Brad Cox – 22%
ª Saffie Joseph Jr. – 22%
Biggest difference between surfaces
Bob Baffert – 22% better on dirt than turf
Wesley Ward – 14% better on dirt than turf