Aug 25 2013

Meet Tom Morley – An Englishman in New York

Tom Morley Portrait

In an ongoing effort to bring to you, the fans, examples of real people working in the horse racing industry we bring you Tom Morley, horse trainer.  Tom was mentioned in a prior post about Maggie Wolfendale, who works as the Paddock Analyst for NYRA.

In addition to her job at NYRA, Maggie is very involved in Tom’s business, working with the horses on a daily basis.  They are involved in a personal relationship as well.  (Update July 26, 2014: Tom Morley is now Maggie Wolfendale’s fiancee!)

Tom is a young trainer, who launched his own business in 2013.  He had prior experience working for Eddie Kenneally as an assistant trainer.  All of that we’ll get into, and more.  He was very generous with his time, so we have a lot of material to write about Tom.  So much, that we’re going to break apart the interview into multiple parts.  This part will introduce you to Tom and set the stage for some very interesting insight into the life of a young trainer.

Where are you from?

English born and bred.  I’ve been in America for nearly three years now.  Two years as an assistant to Eddie Kenneally, then set up myself in March.

What is your (family) history in the horse business?

A lot of my family were involved in horse racing.  My uncle (David Morley) was a very good trainer.  He sadly died in 1998.  Henry Daly, who is a very good jump trainer in England is a cousin of mine.  Two of my cousins are bloodstock agents.  My father has always owned horses and bred horses.  Another uncle is in the jockey club in England.  So, yes it’s pretty ingrained in me.

Were you working for anyone in England?

My first proper job in racing was with Ed Dunlop, at age 18, as a pupil assistant.  He was very kindly the one that gave me my first start as it were in the industry.  I’d done a lot of holiday jobs for other trainers, but Ed was my first official job in racing.  I was a future assistant to Ed.  I prepped yearlings, worked for JSC a very big sports marketing agent.  They do a lot of racing work; a vast amount for Investex (sponsorship for the Derby meeting).  I was an assistant trainer for 3 ½ years with Jeremy Noseda.

So, how did you get from there to here, and end up in Eddie Kenneally’s barn?

Purely by chance, in a strange sort of way; a mutual friend and acquaintance in the bloodstock industry (Steven Hillen) knew that he was looking for another assistant out here … and I was looking for a job in America.  He put two and two together and suggested that I give him a ring.

I always wanted to spend some time in America as an assistant.  Initially the plan was to go home and train, but Steven set the whole deal up with Eddie.

So the initial plan has changed?

Oh, absolutely, yea.  You never know what the future holds, but right now I’m here and I don’t see any changes.  I love it in America.  I love training here.  I love the chance that young people are given here.  I find that in America, more so than in Europe, people … if they believe in you, they back you straight away.  They don’t watch to see how you get on before they give you their support.  If they believe in you, and you can do it, they back you straight away; which is great for young people like me.

I’m curious if there is an ongoing “mentoring” relationship between young trainers and established trainers.  For example you and Eddie Kenneally?


And does that relationship continue even when you go out on your own?

Photo courtesy of Zilla Racing Stable

Photo courtesy of Zilla Racing Stable

Yes and no.  Yes there is a mentoring thing.  If I was ever stuck with a horse and wondering what to do, he (Eddie) would be the first person I’d pick up the telephone and ask.  I count Eddie as a good friend as well as an ex-boss as well.  He’s been very supportive of me setting up as well.

On opening day I sent him a text, he had three assistants with a runner against each other in the same race.  So I sent him a text saying I bet you feel like D.Wayne Lukas right now.  He said, “No, Lukas would make sure he had one in there to beat you.”

He (Eddie) is an exceptional horseman, whose attention to detail is 2nd to none.  Eddie started off with a very small number of very bad horses and racing on the small circuit.  And he’s got to where he has because he deserves it.  And I can’t speak highly enough of my time with him.  It was a very good school to go to.  He taught me an awful lot in a very short space of time.

What about the trainers that you didn’t have a connection with?  Is there any sort of camaraderie among trainers?

Absolutely.  That’s one of the things I like about America.  We’re all here and we’re trying to do the same thing (win races).  I get on with a lot of the other trainers very well.  At the same time there’s that rivalry you know, you want to go over there in the afternoon and beat them.  And you have to claim horses off them as well. So you have to keep things in a business perspective as well as trying to get along with everyone and be friendly.

But there is a certain kind of gentleman’s code.  At least I try to stick to it.  There are certain trainers I would not claim a horse off from (e.g. Eddie I wouldn’t claim a horse from him).

Under no circumstances?

Absolutely.  If an owner rang up and said they want to claim a horse off one of those trainers I’d just say no, I’m not going to claim his horses.  So, there is that side of it.  But, on the other hand you’ve got to keep yourself slightly distanced otherwise the list of people you won’t claim from get’s rather long, and business doesn’t do so well.  On the other hand, there’s a number of trainers that I get on with very, very well … and it’s nice.

In general, how involved is Maggie in the business?

Maggie Wolfendale on Sweet Lover

Maggie Wolfendale on Sweet Lover

Ah, she’s a nightmare to work with! {Smile}  In the morning she comes in, and rides horses for me.  It’s great.  Her input is vital, and Sarah’s as well.  I’m too big to ride my horses.  I rely an awful lot on what they can tell me about my horses.

She told me that you’re a good boss, and give her Tuesdays off.

That’s for all our sakes, especially up here in Saratoga.  I like to give all our horses a day off.  You’d be amazed how quiet things are when I come in here and walk horses on a Tuesday.  It gives the grooms and hotwalkers a day to spend with their families.  They come in, but they’re only here for 2 hours on the walk day.  They get the rest of the day to go and spend time with their families.  You know, they work unbelievably hard seven days a week and the horses the same.  It’s amazing how on Wednesday morning how keen they are to go out and train again.  But on a Tuesday they do relax.  They walk, then they go back in their stalls and when I come back at feed time around 3:00 most of them are asleep.  You think, oh they haven’t done anything and they’re going to be running around their stalls like lunatics, but they seem to appreciate it.

And, you’re sticking with the New York circuit?

Yup, for now (staying in NY).  It’s horrible, miserable, and cold in the winter, but the money is fantastic, the competition is a bit softer (in the winter).  And, about half my horses are NY breds, so there’s no point in taking them to Florida when they can run for $60k at Aqueduct in the winter.  I’m young.  I need to make this business work. There’s no point in going south unless you’ve got the quality of stock to compete. There’s no point in training at Palm Meadows and racing at Gulfstream if you’re going to finish 4th or 5th when you could be winning at Aqueduct.  You have to be where your horses can win.

Also, Maggie can’t come.  She needs to stand in the middle of the paddock at Aqueduct in the winter.  I’d be a bit stuck if I did that. {Smile}

So, now you know a little about Tom Morley the person, and his background.

Click here to read more about Tom Morley. Part 2 of out interview gets into the challenges of a new trainer and how Tom deals with the extreme emotions of the horse racing business.

For more information about Tom and his racing stable; including Bios, a Photo Gallery, and a Blog, visit his website at

Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit

3 comments on “Meet Tom Morley – An Englishman in New York

  1. Just wanted a contact number for you or Maggie… I am a Zilla Racing Stable member & will be at Track on 1 Aug 2015.. Thanks for all your & Maggie’s hard work as I am a Rider at Ridin’ Hy ranch with Andy Beadnell as a Breeder..See U in the AM 0530H or so.. Thanks Bill

    Bill Suttie on
  2. Dear Tom, I’ve stopped by your barn a couple of time’s and met with your ass’t .I left him some materials regarding my program for equine therapy.If you get a chance you could review my website at Innovativeequinetherapy , one word.In the video portion there are several horse’s I’ve worked on over the year’s,a little blurb precede’s each race . It run’s about twenty min. When you return to Belmont I would like to set an appointment to explain my program further. Thank You Steve Lore

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