President and Managing Partner 



Like we say, Horseplayers Racing Club was created by, and designed for, the everyday handicapper. Scott and Debbie Gruender formed HRC to share their passion for horse racing with partners in an affordable and exciting way through limited partnerships.As an avid race fan and handicapper, Scott attended his first race as a toddler in England and has been hooked ever since. He grew up with an unrelenting passion for racing and all the excitement it has to offer. As a young, blue-collar handicapper, he dreamed of someday having more than just a passive interest in the Sport of Kings. He bought his first horse through a partnership over 20 years ago and his love for racing has grown expeditiously since then. Over the years, he’s formed and managed many racing and breeding partnerships and as his knowledge and experience grew, so did his success.

His unique blend of talents – racing experience, relationship building, business sense and writing skills led him to write a book about jockeys. In 2006, “Jockey: the Rider’s Life in American Thoroughbred Racing” was published by McFarland and Company. Through a compilation of over 150 interviews with jockeys, agents, trainers and racing officials, the book tells the story of what it’s like to be a jockey. As a member of the National Turf Writers Association, Scott has national exposure to racing insiders.

Scott is a veteran handicapper and NTRA/Daily Racing Form National Handicapping Championship qualifier in 2008 and has been a guest on several TV and radio shows in the past few years. He works part time at Emerald Downs as a handicapper with their group parties and VIPs. He’s an active member of the breeder’s associations in several states and serves on Committee in Washington. A respected horseman with business experience and professional communication background, he is uniquely qualified to lead this public partnership venture.

Office Manager



Debbie, our Office Manager and Event Coordinator, has been a racing fan for more than a dozen years and brings her passion for racing and flare for fun and excitement to all HRC events.  She handles all the race day seating and passes, monthly assessment processes and works closely with marketing, horsemen’s liaison and race office officials at the tracks HRC races at.



Ed Moger, Jr

Trainer, California

Ed took out his first trainer’s license in 1976 and has successfully campaigned horses at Bay Meadows, Golden Gate and southern California the last several years.

He has an excellent reputation with horsemen as being a reliable, knowledgeable, responsible and trustworthy trainer. He takes a strong interest in each horse, believing it is important to get to know their individual characteristics, movements and personalities. Ed’s top horses have been stakes horses Phaenna, Zoning In and Gentle Charmer.

Jeff Bonde

Jeff bonde

Trainer, California

Jeff is a veteran trainer based in northern California but with a barn in southern California, as well.  He ships his stakes horses where they fit best.  He does remarkably well with two-year-olds and has had success with older horses, too.  His top horse is likely grade I stakes winner Smiling Tiger, who Jeff purchased as a yearling for clients.

He trains a number of horses for us, primarily in southern California.


Danny Pish

Trainer, Texas

Danny is a veteran trainer on the Texas circuit. He’s won numerous titles and over 1,000 races. A former exercise rider, he still gets up in the saddle on the track nearly every day. He’s trained dozens of stakes winners including Texas-bred champions I’m All That, Boots on Sunday and Leaving on My Mind. He’s a talented horseman and we’re thrilled to have him on the team.


Ben Root

Trainer, Oregon

Ben began his training career working as a groom for his father at Longacres while still in high school. After graduating from Oregon State University in Business Management and Athletic Administration, he worked in Sports Event Management, and as Promotion and Events Director at the Home Builders Association running famed events such as the Street of Dreams.

However, his love and passion for the Sport of Kings quickly lured him back to racing at Portland Meadows, one hour from his parents’ Oakhurst Thoroughbreds 140-acre farm. Ben has since branched out to become a regular at Emerald Downs, consistently finishing in the top 15.

“We treat each athlete in our stable as an individual and are constantly looking for ways to improve performance. We also really pride ourselves on excellent communication and complete honesty when dealing with our owners. Our goal is simple: have fun and introduce new faces to the Sport of Kings and Queens!”


Dr. Jack Root, DVM, & Margaret “Cookie” Root

Veterinary consultant

Jack, Ben Root’s father, is a former trainer and full-time vet with decades of experience in horse racing.  The Root’s own and operate Oakhurst Thoroughbreds, Oregon’s top thoroughbred facility. A student of pedigrees and conformation, Jack’s counsel is valued and appreciated. His wife, Margaret “Cookie”, is a former trainer who helps us out with Oakhurst farm visits.


Brian Williamson

Trainer, Illinois

Brian is a talented, veteran trainer with many stakes winners to his credit. He’s always among the leading trainers at Hawthorne and Arlington.  Brian trains for the legenary Fairberry Farm of Harry and Nancy Vanier.  He’ll handle mostly younger stock for us in Illinois.


Chris Dorris 

Trainer, Illinois

Chris has followed in his father’s footsteps learning a great deal from trainer Tom Dorris as a youngster when he started walking hots at 12 to training his first winner about 10 years ago.  Now with a growing stable, Chris has carved a niche in the claiming game, where he’s claimed and moved up horses like Officer Frank and Face the Fire.

Chris will be handling most of our claiming horses in the greater Illinois area and helping us grow our business in the region.


Tim McCanna

Trainer, Washington

Tim has been among the leading trainers are Emerald for a decade and has won numerous training titles and big stakes races along the way. He runs one of the largest stables at Emerald and runs a small string in northern California. He also trains from his farm in Yakima. We’re thrilled to have Tim on the team as our primary trainer at Emerald and have been very impressed with his work to develop our stakes winner Winter Warlock.


Vann Belvoir

Trainer, Southern California

While Vann is an up-and-coming young trainer who is experiencing great success, he’s got a lifetime of experience in the racing business. His father, Howard, is always among the leading trainers at Emerald. Vann was a top apprentice jockey and young rider, winning over 1300 races before his increasing weight ended his career. After starting off with a bang at Emerald Downs, Vann now calls the tough southern California circuit home and he’s climbing the ladder there, too.

Sam Breaux

Sam Breaux

Trainer, Louisiana

Sam is veteran on the Louisiana circuit with over 30 years experience under his belt.  He’s won over 1300 races and $23 million in purses.  He’s consistently ranked in the top 100 nationally for years and is always on the leader board at Evangeline and Delta, where he trains for us.



Vince Delgado

Racetrack Liaison, Lone Star Park in Texas

Vince has been a racing fan for ten years and lives 30-minutes from Lone Star Park with his wife and two daughters. Professionally, he’s a successful manager with strong interpersonal, communication and relationship building skills. He’s been a racing fan for over a dozen years and is a part-owner in two horses. He’ll be working closely with our Texas trainer and assuring our partners enjoy the best race horse ownership experience possible.


John Cavalli

Racetrack Liaison, California

John has been a horse racing fan ever since his father took him to the track as a boy. After retiring from a career as a probation officer in California, he started buying horses. During the past five years he has owned over 35 horses in various partnerships. John and his wife Jan live in Alameda, close to their son and two grandchildren who he coaches in soccer and baseball when not watching his horses run.

John is looking forward to meeting all the California HRC partners and bringing them into the Winner’s Circle.


Mike Vito

Racetrack Liaison, Illinois

Michael is originally from Chicago and resides downtown with his wife, Margaret. He is a graduate of St. Francis University in Joliet, where he played football and baseball. He is the General Manager of the Seneca Hotel in Chicago and has been in the hotel business for 20 years.

His home tracks are Arlington Park and Hawthorne. He has been involved in the horse racing industry as racing fan and handicapper for over 15 years. He’s owned horses the past three years and currently has over 25 horses in various partnerships from coast to coast. He looks forward to bringing the HRC experience to the Chicagoland area.


Robert “BC” Retchless

Racetrack Liaison, Louisiana and greater Texas

Robert “BC” Retchless was born and raised in East Texas.  He lives in Whitehouse, Texas with his wife Julie and children Brookelyn and Alex.  Robert has been a horse racing fan/fandicapper for 20-plus years and hit a $24,000 Pick 6 while on his honeymoon!   He’s  been a horse owner and breeder since 2007.  Robert’s home track is Louisiana Downs, while he’s fondest of the Fairgrounds in New Orleans.  He’ll be handling the Louisiana HRC Liaison position for us in addition to his role as our Louisiana/Texas HRC Handicapper.

Robert also arranges most of the horse shipping for HRC, securing safe and reliable transportation as we move horses around between sales, farms and race tracks.


Earl Maijala 

Racetrack Liaison, Southern California

Earl has been a racing fan for years and got involved as an owner through HRC. Prior to joining the leadership team as our Southern California Liaison, he owned shares in nine horses. He also took in one of our fillies who was retired from the race track, so he has hands on experience with horses as well.

When not at the track, he works as a field operations manager for a hazardous materials abatement/ demolition contractor in Anaheim.

General Counsel


Scott Schwartz

Scott is a horse racing enthusiast and the founding member of the Law Office of Scott A. Schwartz. After graduating from UCLA Law School, he practiced law for a large international law firm. He subsequently started his own firm, which serves clients in both litigation and transactional matters, including equine law.

Web Content Development


Jessica Gruender

With parents so passionate for the Sport of Kings, the love for the live action came naturally to the children growing up in the Gruender Household. Jessica is one of the four daughters Scott and Debbie have raised and is ecstatic to be a part of the business her parents have worked so hard to establish. She has over 10 years of web and graphic design experience.



Paul Frank

I’m originally from Michigan and my best friend’s family owned/trained/raced harness horses. From about the age of 14 on, I was always at the track with them and eventually became a groom for the their horses. When I moved to CA, there were no harness tracks, so my interest turned to thoroughbreds. Fortunately, I lived about 20 minutes from Hollywood Park, and although Del Mar and Santa Anita were a bit farther drive, I gladly made the trip whenever possible. I would say that Santa Anita is my favorite track, but Opening Day at Del Mar is something everyone should experience at least once. Having recently moved to the Dallas area, I’m looking forward to the thoroughbred season at Lone Star Park.

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