Tampa Bay Downs is proud to introduce its blog, “Racing in the Sunshine.” By giving visitors an up-close and personal look at the majestic world of Thoroughbred racing, the sport’s participants – racing officials, horsemen, backstretch workers, trainers, jockeys and track employees – hope to entertain and inform fans everywhere.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Jane Cibelli, Trainer
A TampaBayDowns insider’s opinions, observations and
reflections about their
Jane Cibelli’s reputation for being a shrewd judge of
horseflesh extends beyond her barns at Tampa Bay Downs and GulfstreamPark.
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 MonmouthPark
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 MonmouthPark 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 SligoBay
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:
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.