In 2021, he set career-best top-three scores (45) and purse earnings ($140,224) as a trainer and won his first race as a driver.
by Chris Lomon
Whether it’s Black Caviar, cheeseburger soup or his daily running diet, Austin Brubacker has found the recipe for success.
His career in standardbred horse racing began in the 2010s, a gig which saw him cover many miles with pacers and trotters in tow, and which piqued his interest in shifting into a different role. .
“I started as a shipper for a friend of mine. He didn’t have his driver’s license at the time, so I ended up shipping horses to Freehold… That was about 10-12 years ago. It didn’t take long for me to start thinking about wanting to get more involved in racing. I ended up buying a cheap $4000 seeker just to get started. I wasn’t making a lot of money back then, but I got really hooked.
She is a bay trotting mare who made her decision to join the ranks of harness racing without a doubt.
“Black Caviar, she made about $30,000 in three months. She ended up getting injured and is now a broodmare. I think that’s when I knew I was going to make running my career. Back then, $30,000 was a lot of money. I owned 100% of her. I trained her myself and she was amazing. She was easy to work with, had a great walk and was so direct. She just made my job a lot easier and she showed me that if you’re willing to put in the work, you can make money in this game.”
With the support of his family – he does not come from a racing background – Brubacker launched his riding and coaching career in 2016. In seven racing motorcycle starts, he achieved two-thirds. In 64 practice starts, he notched seven wins, five seconds and four thirds, to go with just over $92,000 in earnings.
Since then, he has continued to progress with a relatively small number of horses. Currently, he has nine in his barn.
“I’m very lucky to be so supported by my family in what I do. They always ask me when I run, how it’s going and what’s coming up. It’s really nice to have.
As it is to have won his first victory in the sulky.
Late last year, Brubacker, now 31, had the unexpected opportunity to pilot the Gold Star Yoder stimulator at Harrah’s in Philadelphia.
The Gold Star Farm gelding is trained by Tim Crissman.
“It was the 14e race on December 2, 2021. There was a traffic delay that day and some of the riders arrived late from Yonkers, so they just grabbed whoever was left in the paddock, and I happened to be there. ‘one of them.
With little time to prepare, Brubacker did his best to quickly learn about the son of mysticism. He certainly liked what he saw in the form, and after one look at the scoreboard he felt even more confident in his chances.
“I thought, ‘If I don’t mess this up, maybe I could get a nice hookup check.’ I remember they were going very fast fractions, and I came in first. It made my job a lot easier. The horse was at the top of his game and won by almost three lengths. It was a big thrill , that’s for sure. It all worked out. He’d had a solid qualifying the week before at Dover, and I just went on that. In fact, I raced three of mine at Chester that day and they finished one, two, three.
The training side of Brubacker’s stable has done well over the past few seasons.
He set career-high marks in the top three (45) and purse earnings ($140,224) last year.
“It’s going well. I have a nice group of trotters. Winning is always fun. It never gets old. I’m really focused on making sure my horses are in the right class, that they can be competitive and perform at their peak. I love my trotters, especially working with young people.
For Brubacker, this aspect of training and the full scope of the role is a true labor of love.
Any chance of hitting his horses puts a smile on the Pennsylvania rider’s face.
“It’s really rewarding when they train. I qualify all my own horses and some for other people as well. I’m always educated by other people’s horses, which I love. Education is key in this job. I also like to drive mine, so I know what I have. I also like the whole end of the training, even if there are a lot of mornings and late evenings, in addition to all the stress. But I like being in the position I am in.
Life is indeed beautiful for the man who sports burgundy, white and black colors.
And not just at the racetrack.
Brubacker is anything but the stay-at-home type, preferring instead to enjoy the great outdoors whenever he finds the time.
“I love hunting and fishing. I wish I had more opportunities for those, but if I have free time, I’ll be outside. I’m the type of person I’ll only watch TV if it’s raining at night, and if I do, I’ll watch TVG, I’ll watch The Meadowlands or races from Canada. I don’t like to sit on the sofa. For me, it’s about being outside.
With one exception though.
Cooking and baking have always played a big role in Brubacker’s life.
Although he won’t have his own show on The food webhis culinary skills are worthy of an award.
“I really like to cook. All my friends come and I cook lunch or dinner. Whether it’s pasta, lasagna or steaks, I love to cook. I also make cookies. When I was little, I helped my mother in the kitchen. I was his little assistant. We did everything together.
“Thanks to my real estate agent, when I bought the house, they organized a small meeting at the end of 2021 for the new owners, with a free meal. They also organized a soup contest. I forgot about it until about two o’clock in the afternoon that day – the party was at five – so I ran to the store and collected all my things. I made a cheeseburger soup. I ended up get the second prize and $50.
It’s the horses, however, that make Brubacker, who has amassed more than $700,000 in professional training earnings, feel like a million bucks.
Win or lose, trotters and pacers feel more like family to the rider, who doesn’t do much winter racing, instead focusing on breaking 15-20 babies a year.
” I love horses. There isn’t a morning that I lie in bed and say I wish I didn’t have to go to work. It’s not a job, it’s literally a hobby and a passion. I can’t wait to get there, even though I live half a mile from the farm. I bought a house about a year and a half ago. I had to pay a lot for it, but I’m glad I did. If I have free time, I will work around the house, landscaping or
do anything outdoors. I am grateful for everything I have in my life.
The main ingredient of its success story?
“It’s easy…I love what I do.”