horsepersonalities and…Leonard DuncanThoroughbred Trainer

With 43 two-year-olds training and shipping in daily, 2001 figures to be quite a year for Leonard "Mike" Duncan. The affable conditioner took a few minutes between bids at the recently concluded Barretts ...With 43 two-year-olds training and shipping in daily, 2001 figures to be quite a year for Leonard "Mike" Duncan. The affable conditioner took a few minutes between bids at the recently concluded Barretts ...

Story originally posted by: Jude T. FeldBullet Marketing, Inc.

With 43 two-year-olds training and shipping in daily, 2001 figures to be quite a year for Leonard "Mike" Duncan. The affable conditioner took a few minutes between bids at the recently concluded Barretts January Mixed Sale to share his philosophy on young horses.

"This is my favorite time of year," Duncan said. "You get these horses — full of potential — and you watch them grow and mature and hopefully you can find the promise that lies within them and transform them into quality racehorses."

Although his looks belie his age — "All that diet Coke and Copenhagen" — Duncan has had a lot of practice with two-year-olds.

"I ran the training barn at Mira Loma Thoroughbred Farm for Craig Nixon for six years," he said. "And, I worked for Paul Jones at Willow Creek, so I’ve had my share of babies."

Training juvenile equines takes skill and patience.

"Young horses are often clueless at first," Duncan said. "Then they get more comfortable with their surroundings and start to wake up. Sometimes you can even see the ‘light bulb’ come on."

Duncan finds a lot of his young prospects by networking.

"I purchase most of my horses privately," he explained. "Through the years, we have developed relationships with farms and breeders, so we check the pedigrees and do the leg work and when we find the right horse, we make an offer."

Though now three-year-olds, Lov In Excess and Somewhat Chilly are just a couple of the exciting prospects racing fans can look forward to Duncan saddling this year.

"Lov In Excess, who I have for Terry Lovinger and Jack Budd, looks to be pretty quick," Duncan said. "Somewhat Chilly belongs to Double Bar S and is having a little rest right now, but should be a good one."

Duncan also has some youngsters already breezing, so he should have a few ready for the two-furlong races at Santa Anita in March.

"Last year we ran three and had a first, a second and a third," he said. "If we think one has the ability to handle it, we’ll go ahead and run ’em."

With a hard-working staff and a barn full of young prospects, Leonard Duncan has the right to be optimistic.

"With a little luck, this could be a good year for us," he said. "Maybe even a great year."

Did you know?
Leonard Duncan won five races on a Los Alamitos card with three different breeds – two Thoroughbreds, two Quarter Horses and one Arabian.