There is a story told over and over again in horse racing: someone grows up on the backside of the racetrack or on a Thoroughbred farm and goes on to work in the industry themselves. But, this was not the case for trainer Tim Glyshaw.
Glyshaw was born in Evansville, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Henderson, Kentucky - the home of Ellis Park. He spent the summers of his youth watching the horse races, but still had little interest in actually working in the industry himself.
After high school, Glyshaw graduated from Indiana University and began teaching school and coaching in Illinois. Though Glyshaw enjoyed the coaching aspect of his job, he knew that teaching wasn’t right for him and decided that he should search for another career path.
One fateful day, Glyshaw confided this to his stepfather. “I told him I wanted to do something else, and he told me to make a list of things I wanted to do and to be realistic..don’t put down NBA basketball player or anything,” Glyshaw recounted. “About ten minutes later a special came on ESPN about Taylor Made’s internship program.”
It was just what Glyshaw needed to see. He had never worked with racehorses before, though he did have experience grooming the Lipizzan stallions that came to Evansville once a week for the Shrine Circus, which his grandfather booked the acts for. He applied to the Taylor Made program and was accepted; a new career in the horse racing industry was awaiting him.
Early Days in Horse Racing:
After graduating from Taylor Made, Glyshaw began hot walking horses for a well-known trainer in the Midwest named Robert Holthus. Within nine months Glyshaw was grooming horses and soon enough he became Holthus’ assistant.
Holthus sent Glyshaw to Hoosier Park in Anderson, Indiana with 12 horses. Glyshaw’s first year at Hoosier Park was successful, but his second year was when he really got the chance to shine: the Holthus Stable finished the season with a 35% win percentage, higher than any other stable at the track. Glyshaw also helped Holthus at tracks like Ellis Park and Turfway Park.
During his time working for Robert Holthus, Glyshaw had saddled stakes horses like Leslie’s Lady (known today as the dam of Beholder, Into Mischief, Mendelssohn, etc.), The Happy Hopper, King’s Command, and Ruby’s Surprise. He was clearly destined to be a good trainer himself, but he was still interested in learning more about the claiming side of the horse racing business. Being so, Glyshaw became an assistant for trainer Cole Norman, who was well-known in the southwest circuit.
After two great years with Cole Norman, Glyshaw decided it was time to make a move. “I cleared out a small stock account that I had and claimed my first three horses and went out on my own,” he explained.
In the same year that Glyshaw went out on his own, a beautiful bay son of Unloosened out of StarsovertheRiver (Stars n’ Stripes) was born for Indiana breeder Crystal Chapple DVM. No one knew it at the time, but that horse would help propel Glyshaw’s career into greatness.
The Unloosened gelding was named Unreachable Star and made his debut for Tim Glyshaw at Turfway Park in March 2007. He broke his maiden in May at Indiana Grand, followed by an Allowance win at the same track. It would take the gelding a few races to really show his true potential, but in October of 2008 he captured the Gus Grissom Stakes at Indiana Grand.
That following May Unreachable Star won the William Henry Harrison Stakes. He was officially on his way to becoming one of the greatest Indiana-breds the sport had seen.
“He was a really, really funny horse to be around,” Glyshaw recalled of the gelding. “He was a fun horse to be around. I could go lay on top of him in his stall...he would take peppermints from my lips and wouldn’t bite you.”
“He was spoiled though, really spoiled,” he continued with a laugh.
By 2014, the ten-year old gelding had won 17 of his 64 races, including 7 stakes wins. Unreachable Star also finished 2nd in 7 stakes and 3rd in 5 others. He had won on both the dirt and the turf and at distances of six-furlongs to 1 1/16th miles. During his career, Unreachable Star had been celebrated as the Indiana-Bred Horse of the Year in 2009 and the Champion Indiana-Sired Older Male from 2009 - 2012.
He retired in 2014 with $784,595 in earnings, making him the highest earning Indiana-bred in history.
It would only take a few years for another Indiana-bred full of star power to enter Glyshaw’s stable. A gorgeous chestnut named Bucchero finished second in his debut in a stakes race at Indiana Grand for trainer Michael Trombetta. One year later he won the To Much Coffee Stakes at Indiana Grand for trainer Heather Hall.
Bucchero was clearly on the path to becoming a great racehorse. The colt’s owners, Ironhorse Racing Stable, decided to put him in Tim Glyshaw’s barn starting at the start of his four year old season. Within a few months, Bucchero finished third in a stakes at Churchill Downs and by September 2016 he won the Brickyard Stakes, then the To Much Coffee Stakes in October.
2017 would be one of Bucchero’s best years. He started with an Allowance win and later captured the Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial Stakes at Mountaineer, then the Brickyard Stakes at Indiana Grand. In October he traveled to Keeneland to snag the Woodford Stakes (G2), which prepared him for a start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar, in which he ran well to finish fourth.
Those great performances convinced Bucchero’s team of his competitiveness at the graded stakes level, so in 2018 he competed almost entirely at the graded level. He finished 2nd in the Shakertown (G2) at Keeneland, 3rd in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) at Churchill Downs, traveled all the way to Royal Ascot to finish 5th in the King’s Stand (G1) (a great performance considering it was his first time running without Lasix and on a straight), and later came back to America to capture the Woodford Stakes (G2) for the second year in a row.
His team took him back to the Breeders’ Cup for another shot at the Turf Sprint (G1) and the colt finished 8th after being brushed and steadied in the stretch.
It was decided that Bucchero would be retired after the Breeders’ Cup. He had won 11 of 31 races, including 5 stakes and 2 graded stakes. Throughout his career he had been named Indiana Bred Horse of the Year in 2017 and 2018, Older Indiana Bred Horse of the Year from 2016-2017, and 3yo Indiana Bred Colt of the Year in 2015. Bucchero retired with $947,936 - surpassing Unreachable Star and making him the highest earning Indiana-bred in history.
“We could’ve brought him back after the Breeders’ Cup and found some race for him to win to put him over a million, but that wasn’t the right thing for him,” Glyshaw explained.
Bucchero is now living lavishly at Pleasant Acres Stallions in Ocala, Florida. Despite his new life, he still remembers Glyshaw and the bond they shared.
“One of the coolest horses you could ever be around. Never bites anybody even though he’s a stud, never does anything...except for me, because I used to always go mess with him in his stall,” Glyshaw laughed.
“When I go visit him at the stud farm, I’ll go into the stall and he’ll recognize it’s me and come right after me with his mouth open, just cause he wants to start playing. It amazes the people at the stud farm because they’re like, ‘He’s never like that to anybody' and I’m like ‘yeah, you know I used to grab him around his neck and wrestle with him. We just used to play all the time.”
The Horse Comes First:
Glyshaw’s success with these two Indiana-breds - as well as a plethora of other horses, such as Grade 1 winner Bullard’s Alley - has garnered him a lot of support in this area from fans and owners alike. People have taken to social media to praise Glyshaw for both his successes and his continued dedication to doing what’s right for the horses in his care.
Glyshaw believes that every horse in his stable, regardless of their level, is deserving of high-quality care. As his website states, “Top stakes horses to lower level claimers get equal and personal care, because each is an individual with their own unique personalities and issues. Top care consists of high quality feed, hay, straw bedding, medications for their legs/bodies, daily equipment for horses plus equipment for morning training, supplements and daily exercise at the track. The quality items we use directly translate into how the horses perform in their races. ‘If you take care of them, they'll take care of you’”.
Racehorses thrive under a routine and the horses in Glyshaw's care are no different. “We feed twice a day - once in the morning after training which is usually 10:30 or 11 and then they get fed again in the afternoon at 4," he explained. "All of them will go out and train at the track daily, either jog or gallop, unless they have just run or worked. If they’ve worked they just walk a day and after a race, they walk about three days. Some of the older, older horses will walk four days after they’ve run.”
Glyshaw's horses will also walk the morning before a race rather than train.
This method has worked marvelously for Tim Glyshaw thus far. He has won 514 races so far in his career, including a Grade 1 race with Bullard's Alley and a Grade 2 with Bucchero. He has sent out the second or third-place finisher in a race 973 other times and earned more than $14 million.
Glyshaw still loves and respects the horses who don't do well on the racetrack and works hard to make sure they find a place in the world where they can thrive in. “We’ve rehomed a ton of our ex-racehorses," he said. "As I said when we were walking around the barn - all of them aren’t fast, but as long as we can find them something else to do and they can go have a good career and be happy, that’s great.”
At the end of the day, Glyshaw's main concern is that his horses are healthy and happy and come back from their races safe and sound. Anyone who lives a life in horse racing knows that this sport can make you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Glyshaw's career, like the career of anyone else, has been full of these moments.
But despite these hardships, there's one thing that keeps pulling him out of bed every morning: the horses.
"There are, and have been in the last few years for me, bad days, bad weeks where I've just been like, 'Is this all worth it?'. I can only speak for myself, but I guarantee if you interview 15 other trainers they'd all say the reason they come back every day is because of the horses."
This article is part of our project #TreasureoftheMidwest. Champions of the Track has partnered with the Indiana Thoroughbred Alliance, Indiana Horsemen's Protection & Benevolent Association, and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino to shine a spotlight on Indiana's vibrant Thoroughbred industry. We will be highlighting the state's farms and successful horses and horsemen through written stories, a YouTube video series, and social media content.