Joe Santos @joesantos_33 had the opportunity to speak with Veteran trainer Michelle Nihei. I asked her 9 questions about her job and some of her favorite moments in the sport we all love
JS: How did you get into racing?
MN: “It was a dream of mine since I was little to ride race horses, so one day while being in graduate school in Kentucky, I grabbed my helmet and went to Keeneland going barn to barn to find horses to get on for trainers.”
JS: How many years have you been training?
MN: “This is the end of year ten for me as a trainer. Next year will be my eleventh year.”
JS: Who did you work under?
MN: “Most recognizably, I worked under Todd Pletcher.”
JS: Who are some of the best horses you have worked with?
MN: “Ashado of course was the best one’s I got to work with. She won the Kentucky Oaks and Distaff in 2004. Another great one I worked with, who was one of my favorites, was Limehouse. He ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby in 2004. For a horse who was best as a one turn miler, that was an incredible performance by him. He always gave a great effort.”
JS: What is your favorite moments in racing?
MN: “Every time you cross the line in front it is a great moment. There is nothing better than knowing a horse gave you it’s all and the end up in front at the end of it all. Other highlights would be Ashado winning the Distaff and when I started my first Breeders’ Cup horse, Prince Will I Am. It is always fun to compete in the big races.”
JS: Who are your go to riders?
MN: “I have always loved Johnny V. Working all those years with Todd we won some great races together. Javier Castellano has always been another big favorite of mine as well. He has helped me a lot in my career. Another favorite of mine is Jose Lezcano. He won my first Grade 1 with me. Now that I am based in Florida, I usually use Luca Panici as well as Miguel Vazquez. Both are very good riders.”
JS: Who is the barn pet?
MN: “My pony, Prince Will I Am.”
JS: What is the most gratifying part of your job?
MN: “Being around the horses from 4:30-10:30 AM is the most gratifying part of the job. Just watching them train and interacting with them in the barn makes it all the worth. I would say 90% of trainers would agree, the best part of every day is the same thing every day.”
JS: If you weren’t training, what would you be doing?
MN: “Wishing I was training.”