MEET THE TEAM

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President and Managing Partner 

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SCOTT GRUENDER

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

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DEBBIE GRUENDER

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.


HRC TRAINERS


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Justin Jeansonne

Trainer, Louisiana

Trainer Justin Jensonne has reignited the Jeansonne name on the Louisiana racing circuit. As a second generation trainer, he has quickly displayed a keen eye for racing talent and the ability to develop quality, competitive racehorses. Justin has worked in many aspects of the racing industry, from working with young developing horses on the farm to saddling stakes winners like Mr. Al’s Gal and Iona Star. With back-to-back wins in the Louisiana Futurity (2016 and 2017 – Fair Grounds – New Orleans), the multiple stakes winning trainer has established himself as a respected name in the Louisiana racing community.


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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 Metz

Trainer

Jeff has grown his stable over the years and runs a string in Washington, Arizona and California.  He’s won several trainer titles at Emerald Downs and has been in the country’s top 100 winning trainers several times over the last five years. 

He’s trained several stakes horses, including Citizen Kitty, B C Z Middleton, E Z Kitty and our own HRC stakes winners Kaabraaj and Redsolocup among his many others.   


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.


Roddina Barrett

Trainer

Rody is a young trainer on her way up the ladder.  We put our first HRC in her barn at Portland Meadows and have added several horses at Emerald Downs, where she continues to move up the trainer standings every season.  


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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!”


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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.


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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.


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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.


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.


RACETRACK LIAISONS


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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.


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Vicky Barnes

Racetrack Liaison, Kentucky

Growing up in Louisville, Vicky has been around horse racing most of her life. Owning a business in Louisville and living only a short drive from every track in the state of Kentucky ,makes it easy to be a fan of racing. 

In recent years, with her husband Jamie, she decided to take the plunge into horse ownership. 

As part owner in multiple horses , she has had the questions and experiences many people face when deciding to purchase into a thoroughbred partnership. 

Using her knowledge with her own experience,as well as her relationship and communication skills , Vicky will be working closely with our trainers and partners as we continue to grow our HRC partnerships in Kentucky.


Web Content Development

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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.


Photographer/Videographer

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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.