Competitive Edge Drives Third Generation Horseman By Martha Claussen
Houston, Texas -January 15, 2024 –With the 2024 Texas Thoroughbred racing season underway at Sam Houston Race Park during their 30th anniversary, there is a trainer rising quickly in the ranks and that’s Jayde Gelner.
Gelner’s just 23, but certainly no stranger to industry followers. He is a third generation horseman; his grandfather John Charles Gelner began training 40 years ago and his dad, Scott, is a multiple stakes winning horseman who has won 681 races over two decades.
“Racing came to Jayde naturally,” explained Scott. “He’s been at the track with me since he was in diapers. I let him choose his path and am very proud of his success.”
Jayde Gelner has 28 horses stabled at Sam Houston and as he walks the shed row, you can see his rapport with each. Taps Mistress, a striking gray daughter of Tapwrit ran fourth in her Sam Houston debut on January 5. Owned by Norman Racing Stables, LLC, she listened attentively to Gelner during our interview as he discussed what it takes to manage a growing stable. Already in 2024, he is running in Houston as well as Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana.
“I am always trying to find the right races,” Jayde said. “It’s just a part of the daily routine but we cannot do it without a great team. My owners, assistants, grooms and hot walkers each play an important role.”
He caught the attention of many in the industry last summer with two stellar outings at Lone Star Park and Louisiana Downs.
On July 1 at Lone Star Park, Gelner won both the colts/geldings and filly divisions of the $150,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Futurity with Norman Racing Stables’ colt Strong Promise and Divining Humor, who Gelner purchased for $12,000 at the 2022 Texas Thoroughbred Association Yearling Sale.
“I liked her athleticism,” explained Gelner. She was kind of a bargain and never even ran full out in her TTA Futurity win.”
Gelner credits his dad and owner Robbie Norman for spotting Strong Promise at the sale. Norman signed the ticket for $125,000 and the team saw the son of Broken Vow win four consecutive races, including the $75,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile on August 5 at Louisiana Downs.
“My dad picked Strong Promise in the Texas Thoroughbred 2-Year-Old Sale,” said Gelner. “He went for $125,000, but we knew from his first breeze at Copper Crown that he had talent.”
“That was a big purchase, but he has paid that off already,” stated Norman. “We feel he has a very bright future.”
Gelner has rocketed up the charts since going out on his own in 2022. In his freshman season he won 35 of his 207 starts in 2022. In the first month of 2023, he had already topped his stats from his first year. Gelner has won 12 stakes races in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Iowa. As of January 11, his lifetime record stands with 101 wins, 99 seconds, 75 thirds with earnings of $3.6 million.
“I’m competitive,” he said. “Last summer at Louisiana Downs, I won two stakes, but had four running on the (Louisiana Cup Day) program. I wasn’t unhappy, but at the end of the day I remember saying to myself that I was ‘this close’ to winning four!”
The goals are plentiful for Gelner as he embarks upon the third year of his training career. He also believes that there is plenty of upside with Texas racing. Purses have been bolstered by House Bill 2463, which was approved in 2021 to benefit horse racing in the Lone Star State.
“Things are good in Texas,” he said. “The purse structure is excellent and has attracted competitive fields. Fans come out at both Sam Houston and Lone Star. It’s fun to see people enjoy racing!”
Gelner won nine of his 53 starts last summer at Lone Star Park and will ship a string to Grand Prairie, Texas. He is already looking forward to the Texas Two-Year-Olds In Training Sale in April and hopes to spot another promising colt with the acumen of Strong Promise and tenacious spirit of his filly, Divining Humor.
On and off the track, Jayde Gelner knows what he wants and judging from what he has already accomplished, keep an eye on Gelner at Sam Houston and Lone Star Park.
Martha Claussen has been involved in the racing industry since 1997. She served as publicity director for Sam Houston Race Park for ten years and continues to be active in writing, fan education and racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and other regions in North America.