My love affair with US racing, tempered but not over!
Back in 2002-3, my 18 month business relationship with Team Shuman/Gill secured 3 USA Racing titles & $11,000,000 in purses. The success was exceptional at the time & almost 20 years later has failed to be replicated. Behind this extraordinary racing record was an evidence based feed regime which sought to deliver ‘ideal’ blood counts in each thoroughbred in the string. Owner Mike Gill & trainer Mark Shuman believed the science & made the investment in optimal nutrition. The results on the track saw their horses performances peak & delivered exceptional results. So great that the racing fraternity refused to acknowledge Mike Gill as leading US owner that year.
Congratulations to Saffie Joseph jr. in winning his first Gulfstream Park training title in 2022 with 58 winners. Impressive in recent times but 30 winners behind my client owner Mike Gill who in 2003, won 88 races at the same meet in 89 racing days and in the process his private trainer Mark Shuman (operating there at a 26% Strike Rate as against his previous year’s Delaware Strike rate of 13%) obliterated the previous training record at Gulfstream Park of 34 winners held by Hall of Fame trainer William Mott.
You may never have heard of American racehorse owner, Mike Gill. He became a client in August 2002 after trialing some horses on the Belmont Feeding protocol. The optimal equine feed regime of Oats, Champion Oat Balancer ® (a multivitamin mineral supplement /U.S.patent number 3,144,124), premium quality flax and Timothy Hay had been formulated by me after 20 years research & been proven to deliver ideal blood counts in thoroughbreds. Gills first order of 100 tubs were air-freighted to his Delaware base in August 2002. Over the next 18 months, a total of 1160 tubs were shipped to the base of his principal trainer Mark Shuman.
,(L to R) Mark Shuman, Jeff Reagan, Dr Castro, Pat Devereaux Jr. Dr McCormick
Oxford, Pennsylvania, USA - August 6th, 2003
In January 2003, Team Shuman /Gill hit the ground running at Gulfstream Park. Some days winning 2-3 races, most of them wiring the field . Their string were producing impressive performances. & caught the attention of prominent Racing Pundit James Willoughby. Commenting on the United Kingdom racing Channel, AT THE RACES, Willoughby stated that the Shuman /Gill horses were like those of recording breaking UK Trainer Martin Pipe “they go off in front and never come back !”
The winning ways of Team Shuman/Gill continued & midway through the 2003 Gulfstream Park meet, Washington Post journalist Andrew Beyer had the opportunity to interview owner Mike Gill (DRF website: February 18th 2003). His report of the time was published under the heading ‘Miracle Man or Medicine Man’. Beyer was clearly impressed by Gill and his trainer Mark Shuman. They were having a phenomenal season at Gulfstream, winning 37 races in 31 days. During the interview, Beyer remarked that Gill was the “smartest owner he ever interviewed” . Taking the compliment, clearly given on his strings performances, Mike Gill responded that he took meticulous care of his horses, stating “who else spends $18000 importing oats(sic) from Dublin” …. he meant to say Champion Oat Balancer ® from Belmont Equine Products as a second shipment of 200 tubs had been shipped from Dublin to Florida during the time period. Beyer concluded the interview by saying that “Bill Mott is arguably the best horseman in America but I doubt that in his entire career he has as many training miracles as Gill and Shuman have in the last two weeks”.
Later in 2003, owner Mike Gill went on to win two further titles at Monmouth Park and Laurel Park, winning $11 million in purses during our 18 month business relationship. Despite this phenomenal record of successes on US racing tracks, Mike Gill was denied the Eclipse Award (for leading US Owner, both in purses & races won) for reasons best known to the then judges. An outcome that has not sat well with me for almost 20 years.
My love affair of US racing began in 1968 -
Having graduated from University College Dublin Veterinary School ,aged 21, I interned with the legendary Dr William Reed at Belmont Park. In November 1968, I found myself as attending veterinarian to Horse of the Year, Dr. Fager on his final van ride (too valuable to fly) from Belmont Park to Tartan Farm in Ocala, Florida. My experiences with the US racing fraternity in 2003 & in particular my (2002-3) business dealings with Mike Gill (where his relationship with US racing authorities ended like it did) have since tempered my fascination.
Despite this experience, I have spent a lifetime chasing the science of peak performance. An avid racing pundit, I continue to track ‘form’ as an indicator of success. I never met Mike Gill in person (all business dealings were handled by his New Hampshire office but we did speak by phone in 2012 as I sought permission to use his name in a lecture I was delivering in Florida that year entitled ‘The Role of Nutrition in the 50 year decline of the modern Thoroughbred’). But today, it is as clear as it was then that the 2002-3 transformation of trainer Mark Shumans ‘strike rate’ (from 13% to 26%) was tied to Team Shuman/Gill’s commitment to the Belmont Feeding Protocol. Since these 2003 record breaking ‘form book’ results, similar successful trainer ‘strike rates’ have been achieved with smaller US racing stables (including New York owner, the late Paul Pompa, a valued client for about 5 years) using the Belmont nutrition regime.
Beyond the impressive record of performances in 2003, what was equally remarkable about this time was that the majority of Mike Gills horses were claimed from other owners through the US Claiming System. Purchased after racing on the track, this unique system provides the opportunity to see the impact of nutrition on equine racing performances in as little as 4 weeks. This is where Team Shuman/Gill made their real money!
Author: Dr. Richard. J. McCormick, M.V.B, Dip.Eq.St, M.R.C.V.S. Licensed Veterinarian (Kentucky, USA, Ireland & United Kingdom). Contact @ firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com