Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jane Cibelli, Trainer

A Tampa Bay Downs insider’s opinions, observations and reflections about their
favorite sport

Jane Cibelli’s reputation for being a shrewd judge of horseflesh extends beyond her barns at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park. At the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Cibelli picked out Purple Egg for her Goodwood Racing II syndicate for the bargain price of $22,000. After winning his first two races in impressive fashion last summer at Monmouth Park and Parx Racing in Philadelphia, the gelded son of Lion Heart-Luminous Prize, by Prized, won the $75,000 Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 1. His beaten foes that day included Falling Sky, the winner of Saturday’s Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes. Purple Egg was sidelined until recently due to lingering effects from a fever, but is back to full health and training smartly. Cibelli, a native of Leicester, England, is tied for second in the Tampa Bay Downs standings with 14 victories, and her 40-percent strike rate is tops among all conditioners with 25 or more starts. She is also a healthy 6-for-30 at Gulfstream. Cibelli has won back-to-back training titles at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and was the first woman to top the standings at the summer showcase meet.




HOMETOWN: Odessa, Fla.


BEST HORSE I EVER TRAINED/WATCHED: In terms of accomplishments, my best horse was Chirac, a Sligo Bay gelding. In 2009, he won the Grade III Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth and the Skip Away Stakes, and the next year he was third in the Grade II Monmouth Cup Stakes. But I believe Purple Egg has the most potential of any horse I’ve trained and is a better horse than Chirac. Purple Egg still has to prove himself, though. The best horse I’ve ever seen is Zenyatta.


HOW I GOT STARTED IN RACING: From the time I was in school, I always wanted to work with horses, and by the time I was 12 I knew I wanted to train. I worked in a racing stable in the United Kingdom and came to the United States in 1983. I worked as an assistant exercising horses for Linda Rice, but I really committed myself to my career soon after I fell off a horse and broke my back.


MY BIGGEST INFLUENCE: One of my owners, John Hewitt, was a great inspiration to me. He overcame a lot to be successful in life, and he always showed faith in me and was very supportive. I’ve tried to glean as much information and knowledge as I could from everyone I worked for.


ONE CHANGE I WOULD MAKE TO RACING: Establish universal medication and licensing regulations. Especially when I’m racing in New Jersey, it’s difficult to manage because you’re shipping to other states where the rules for withdrawal times and licensing are all different.


MY FAVORITE ATHLETE: Zenyatta. She beat the boys, she beat the best in the world, and she made it look effortless. She should have gone undefeated.


NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET LIST: I’d love to go to China, see the Great Wall and experience that culture.


FAVORITE TV SHOW: Downton Abbey.


FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The track surface is very forgiving and great for getting horses fit.


WHAT ELSE I’D BE DOING IF. … Being a veterinarian would be an option. I’ve never had any doubts about working with horses.


ADVICE TO SOMEONE STARTING IN RACING: It takes discipline to be successful, and you have to be able to keep going through adversity. Just keep getting up and going to work. Good things happen if you’re honest and hard-working.


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