Olympic ski racer Bode Miller has his sights set on becoming a racehorse trainer. And if things go his way, he could shake up the racing industry.
Sometimes it's just time for a career change. That's what Bode Miller thinks. The Olympic ski racer is planning a career move into training Thoroughbred racehorses. And he's serious about it. Miller has already bought his own barn at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. While Miller is focusing on spending time with his family and won't make a move into training until his children are older, he does have some horses working with other trainers.
The racing world can be a harsh one, and training horses, especially when you didn't grow up among trainers, can be a challenging transition. But it's one that Miller is confident he can make. In fact, he sees his position as an industry outsider as being an advantage. Miller told Thoroughbred Daily News:
"To some degree, it's a disadvantage, my not having come up underneath some of these really knowledgeable, experienced trainers," he said.
"They have so much knowledge that has gotten passed down through the generations from mentor to pupil. But at the same time, in the training business there is a lot of insecurity, bad habits and misinterpretation of information and things like that that have also gotten passed along. I want to move the needle in terms of improving the athlete beyond what the normal training programs do and I also want to get the athletes prepared to tackle the competition they're put in against in a more efficient and more effective way so they don't get hurt as much. It's a big advantage, to some degree, not having come out from underneath one of those experienced trainers because I don't carry the same baggage they have accumulated over their careers. Some of it is very valuable, but some of it is throwaway."
Being an Olympic gold medalist does give Miller an advantage. He knows how to condition athletes and how to prolong their careers. Miller doesn't believe in training a racehorse and then retiring it at age three or four. His perspective from the skiing world, where there's a constant drive to find better training methods to make athletes faster, does clash a bit with the training approaches common in the racing world.
Miller is good friends with Bob Baffert, the already-famous trainer who solidified his place in history when he trained Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. But despite Baffert's prowess in the racing industry, Miller states that he doesn't agree with everything about the trainer's approach.
"As much as I respect Bob and his accomplishments, which are just mind-boggling to me, I said to him, 'Bob you realize you're doing a lot less than you could be in terms of maximizing your athletes' potential. If you were a coach we'd be having a different conversation right now, just as I did with coaches all throughout my athletic career.' I realized right away that Bob is a tremendous horseman and has such a gift when it comes to his eye for horseflesh, which is second to none, but he doesn't know that much about physiology or sports science or training programs. There came a time when I told Bob I want to try some of these things out and he tried to steer me away from it. He said you don't realize how tough this sport is. I know it is, but I came through a tough sport, too."
Miller may not begin his career as a racehorse trainer for a decade or more, but if he sticks to his determination to do things differently and shake up the racing industry a bit, one thing's for certain: There will be plenty of eyes on him to see how his new approach pans out.
What do you think of Miller's endeavors? Tell us in the Facebook comments below!
READ MORE: Have You Heard of Skijoring?
WATCH NOW: The Lollipop Was Named After a Racehorse