Tony Cunningham repeats as Leading Quarter Horse Owner
Owner-trainer Tony Cunningham has a long history of winning races in Indiana. The Clarksville, Mich. native has competed in every year of pari-mutuel Quarter Horse racing in the state of Indiana since its inception in 1997. For the second straight year, Cunningham takes home the title as the 2017 Leading Quarter Horse Owner at Indiana Grand.
Cunningham had 10 winners in 58 starts as an owner with purses of more than $129,000. He carried a 41 percent “in the money” average during the season that stretched from April through October. Cunningham also finished second in the leading Quarter Horse trainer standings, earning 27 wins and more than $525,000 as a trainer.
“It goes to the support of the team,” said Cunningham. “They are working hard to get better every year. We are finished for the year now. We will go to the farm and break babies and get ready for next season.”
One yearling will be especially exciting to get on the track for Cunningham this winter. He purchased the half sister to this year’s two-year-old standout Stone Cold Leader for his wife at the recent QHRAI Speed Sale.
“We don’t raise babies anymore,” noted the multiple stakes winning trainer and owner. “It just got too hard to breed our own stock anymore since we are racing out of state. We generally just rely on our owners and the sales for our yearlings. We have roughly 20 to break this year.”
Cunningham keeps a string of horses at Indiana Grand during the racing season but also oversees operations at his farm in Michigan. It generally takes three trips to Indiana Grand per week with a trip that is nine and one-half hours round trip to keep up with both sites, relying on the capable hands of Salvador Villalobos while he’s back in Michigan.
“Salvador takes care of things at Indiana Grand when I’m not here,” said Cunningham. “He’s been with me for the past four years and has done an excellent job.”
One of the highlights of the season came at the very end of the meet when his longtime standout Beach Bum Eddie set the track record for 300 yards in mid October. It was a nice boost for Cunningham’s barn and a great way to showcase an Indiana sired horse on the list of track record holders at Indiana Grand.
Cunningham, who also trains a few Thoroughbreds, won the final Thoroughbred race of the season with Paddy’s Notes in the ninth race Friday, Oct. 27 to complete a solid racing season all around.