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Faces Of Racing: Sarah Lauren Scott

Published: July 15, 2019 9:55 am ET

Last Comment: July 15, 2019 4:21 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Leading up to the National Caretaker Appreciation Day events taking place on the weekend of July 19-21, Standardbred Canada has been profiling caretakers from across the country in our Faces of Racing series. The series concludes with a profile on a former full-time caretaker, Sarah Lauren Scott of Rockwood, Ontario, one of the co-founders of National Caretaker Appreciation Day.

The harness racing industry has many hardworking and amazing individuals who are inspirational and impactful in their efforts, people who go above and beyond and who aren’t paid for specific work or projects, but do so for the love of harness racing, and for the love of the horse.

One such person is trainer-owner-breeder and a former full-time caretaker, Sarah Lauren Scott, one of the co-founders of the National Caretaker Appreciation Day initiative, and the coordinator of the NCAD event for the second consecutive year at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Sarah is well-versed in a day in the life of a groom. She lived and breathed it for over 10 years. She took care of such horses as trotting star Syrinx Hanover, a million-dollar earner who went undefeated in twelve starts in her three-year-old season, and she was also the groom for pacing superstar, Hall of Famer, and triple millionaire, Rocknroll Hanover.

Sarah (centre) accepting the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame induction trophy for Rocknroll Hanover

Her resume is brimming with horse experience. Sarah worked for Joanne’s Staking Service, The Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society, and she was employed by System Equine for over six years before recently accepting a position as North American Regional Manager for Nortev / Flexineb. She is also the creator of SLS Equine, designing custom day-to-day equipment for horses.

Sarah has devoted her life to the horse racing industry and where she is today in her career, is in a large part due to her tenure as a caretaker, and what she continues to do as a horseperson today. Her introduction to harness racing was not typical of many who are exposed to the sport via family members. Instead, she became hooked on harness racing shortly after she part boarded a retired Standardbred at Joe Stutzman’s turnout farm in 1992.

When Sarah started grooming full-time, it wasn’t long before she moved to the U.S. “I was in awe of the Scandinavian caretakers, how they went above and beyond for their trotters. They set a standard, that I always obtained, and tried to surpass. Two that come to mind, Emma Patterson and Marita Berglund – they are true professionals, to this day and true role models.”

As much as she loved the horses and her job, there were some trying times, she admits. “There are challenges at the time that turn into assets or tools that we can apply to our lives in different ways. Working long hours where the days run into one another, is easy when you are in your 20’s but they sure catch up to you. I never agreed with caretakers being paid the same in terms of experience or work history with the current employer. I think a work structure that could accommodate more teamwork, so you can have a weekend off here or there would be great. Caretakers who give their all and are experienced should be paid as such.”

Her passion for horses and harness racing outweighed any challenges during her time as a full-time caretaker and she attributes a strong work ethic, good sportsmanship and problem solving as skills learned on the job.

On December 21, 2018, Sarah experienced every horseperson’s worst nightmare. An early morning fire broke out at the Steacy Stable’s barn at First Line Training Centre. Fortunately, 35 of the 40 horses survived, including her trotter, Fork. Sarah, and her husband Mark, were some of the first people on the scene and assisted the firefighters, vets and owners triaging the scene.

In follow up to this tragic event and her personal experience, Sarah organized a Barn Fire Prevention Workshop at System Equine in March. The event was extremely well attended by the horse community and featured a special guest appearance by Fork.

“After the barn fire, that impacted me, so deeply. I was a different person,” recalls Sarah, “there isn’t any denying this. It really made me step back and look at where I am in my life. I was offered a position as North America Regional Manager for Nortev / Flexineb and after much thought – a trip to Lexington and a discussion with my boss at System Equine it was time to follow my heart. The Flexineb nebulizers were a huge part of the horse’s recovery from the fire which damaged their airway, when the Flexinebs arrived the morning of the fire – I felt relief. I knew we were facing a battle and I was armed and prepared and most importantly educated in how to help our horses.”

Fork, Sarah and Mark

Fork’s retirement from racing was recently confirmed, but Sarah still gets her hands-on experience, training her two-year-old Muscle Mass trotting filly, Silver Spoon, with help from her husband, Mark, at First Line. She also rents a farm outside of Milton, where 30 year old Music Director, a horse she claimed in 2001, and her broodmare, Evolution live (and in addition, hopefully a foal of 2020).

American-based trainers Nick Surick and Staffan Lind have been sending her horses to race in Canada for about eight years now. “It is the ultimate compliment, when someone trusts you with their horse.”

Nick met Sarah through a common friend and based on what he witnessed while Sarah was stateside, caring for Syrinx Hanover and Rocknroll Hanover, he never hesitated to send her horses, when they had races at Mohawk. “The horses she took care of speaks for itself on how great she is. I trust her with my horses and I’ve never thought twice about it. We’ve won the Camluck Classic, numerous series at Mohawk and came close to winning the Fan Hanover with horses that were under Sarah’s care.”

Sarah has some thoughtful suggestions for the up and coming generation who want to pursue a profession as a caretaker in the harness racing industry.

“Truthfully, focus on making it short term (5 years), and take the very best care of the horses in your stable. Travel with your horse, make friends and be sure to bring new people to the industry. Take a win when you can, they don’t always last, be a good sportsman and treat those around you with respect. Keep your ears and eyes open. There is always something to learn, may it be what to do or what not to do. Be most respectful to the older caretakers, those are the ones you want to learn from. They may be slower now, but they have been where you are going and have worked hard.”

July 15, 2019 - 4:21 pmWonderful Article about

Tim Bates SAID...

Wonderful Article about Sarah!

I had the privilege of working with her on horse adoptions for about six months, and she stands head and shoulders above most in that, and in care of racing stock.

Congratulations and the best of luck going forward!

Tim Bates

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