This is the first in a series of Q&A sessions with Meadows trainers and drivers, conducted by MSOA Intern and horse owner Mark Massimino.
DOUG SNYDER has spent his entire life in harness racing, most of it at The Meadows. He was the track’s leading driver for several seasons in the 1980s, driving many top horses for his brother, Dane, as well as other leading trainers. He has transitioned in recent years into a trainer/driver with a strong stable of upper-level trotters.
Q: You’ve had a long, successful career as a driver. When your career started, did you still picture yourself doing it in 2015?
A: Oh yeah. I’m fourth generation and this is what we do. I was at a high school class reunion and many people asked “are you retiring?” and I said “you don’t retire in our business, you die.” You don’t quit this business.
Q: You’ve driven horses in countless styles of race bikes over the years. How has the game changed thanks to different bikes?
A: Well, personally I never raced in a single shaft, and there’s people I know that did and said that was the greatest thing ever, but I thought the Cheetah was the best bike I ever raced in. These bikes nowadays, I’m a firm believer that you have to have good wheels. And that’s the biggest thing with any bike. It’s the wheels.
Q: You have really built a strong stable. What has been the key to getting the right horses?
A: You have to have good owners in this business who are willing to go out there, put up a little money and purchase the proper horses. You’ve gotta have a little backing.
Q: You have a mix of younger and older horses in your barn. Do you have a preference when it comes to both training and driving?
A: At my age now I’d just as soon train, but I obviously enjoy driving a good trotter or a good pacer, but I’d prefer a good trotter. I think the young guys, they’re at the top of their game and the older guys I think they get along with trotters pretty well, but I don’t know if they belong out there with the pacers.
Q: Looking back on your career, what horse or horses would you consider to be the best that you’ve raced?
A: The best horse I’ve ever raced, in my opinion, was American Winner. He was an awesome three-year-old, and I got to drive him early in his three-year-old season. He was just by far the best trotter I ever drove. Pacer, Cami Whitestockings, and she was my biggest winner I ever had. She actually is a broodmare now for Hanover, so she was a heck of a good mare. We raced her in one of those big races they had. She was a pretty nice horse.