What do you call someone with an easy laugh, a twisted sense of humor, a strong work ethic, the ability to nap at a moment’s notice, and an intense love for his life’s work? I call him “Alan”.
Alan Sherman, assistant trainer for Sherman Racing Stables, runs the day-to-day operation in the barns at Los Alamitos Race Track that house over two dozen of their trainees. He’s grown up in the “family business’ of horse racing, first going to work with his dad, trainer Art Sherman, as a young boy.
I’ve heard countless stories, from Alan’s antics with lifelong friends Bobby Hobbs and Mark North, to his sleeping in the hay next to Thoroughbred race horses. Stories of race tracks across the country - both favored and not - and the often crazy journeys to reach them.
Tales of mounts he rode as an apprentice jockey, told with a clarity as if they had been run last week. Alan has forgotten more about horse racing than I’ll ever know. (As he frequently, and jokingly, reminds me.)
Every day of the week he is up and out the door to work before 4:30am, taking just a couple weeks off each year to go fishing orduck hunting. The pace of the work of training horses is daunting, but I’ve never heard a complaint.
If day to day training isn’t enough, the week of a stakes race will set you back on your heels, and the week of a BIG stakes race will knock you flat. A week such as that is just underway.
Yesterday, the team transported their champion chestnut colt, California Chrome, to Santa Anita Race Track, as they make their final preparations for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday, November 5.
So, add to regular daily tasks, which include being around incredibly powerful animals and having the safety of horses and riders as your responsibility, the social calendar that goes along with the richest two days in Thoroughbred racing each year. It would exhaust most people.
My experience with Team Sherman, and Alan in particular, is one of pure enjoyment of every aspect of this process, and a deep appreciation for the gifted equine that has brought him to this place. As a friend and colleague, he is fiercely loyal, and if anyone bestows a compliment to his hard work and dedication, Alan is quick to credit to his father, his team and his horse for noted accomplishments.
Having been privileged to be around when few people are looking, I can say with certainty that California Chrome is where he is today due to his enormous heart, his incredible talent, and largely, to the care and training provided by his team.
As humans, we all know what it feels like to be around those who bring out the best in us. Those who never give up on us and truly believe in us. Those who accept our short-comings, celebrate our achievements, complement our efforts, position us to perform at our peak, and inspire us to shine.
Alan does that for California Chrome. And Chrome does that for Alan.