The Daily Racing Blog continues its tribute to the Great Ladies Of Thoroughbred Racing with one of the best handlers in the business today.
From wins and training titles to awards and earnings, Linda Rice is known in the thoroughbred industry as the most decorated female trainer in history. Over the past twenty years the third-generation trainer has been one of the top ten trainers in New York and is currently the leading female trainer in North America.
Racing is deeply ingrained in Rice’s heritage. The foundation for Rice’s success began in the fields of Wisconsin, where she grew up breaking, training and developing young horses for her father, Clyde Rice. Clyde was a highly successful thoroughbred horse trainer himself. He was on top of the trainer standings in Pennsylvania for more than a decade.
After starting her career as an exercise rider and assistant trainer, Rice obtained her training license in 1987 and began saddling horses full-time on the New York and New Jersey Circuit. The victories soon followed, as well as important industry milestones, becoming the first woman to saddle a Grade I winner at Keeneland in 1998 when she won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup with the three-year-old filly TENSKI.
Rice made her initial mark at Saratoga in 1999 when she won back-to-back graded stakes in Saratoga’s prestigious two-year-old filly series, winning the Adirondack and the Grade 1 Spinaway with THINGS CHANGE. Rice built on her success at Saratoga in 2000, sweeping all of Saratoga’s graded stakes for two-year-olds. Rice was later honored with the Fourstardave Award for Outstanding Achievement by the New York Turf Writers Association for this accomplishment.
Rice has amassed more than 1,200 wins – a number that continues to steadily rise – and more than $40 million in earnings. The victories have led her to four New York training titles since 2009, when she took top honors at Saratoga Race Course and became the first woman to win a training title in the 150-year history of the sport.
Rice was named 2013 Trainer of the Year by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders; she had also received this honor in 2009 and 2010 as well. Having garnered national attention for her accomplishments, she was also named a Woman of Influence by the Thoroughbred Times, joining achievers such as Penny Chenery, owner of SECRETARIAT. Rice won back-to-back training titles at Aqueduct in 2011 and 2012. She later tied Todd Pletcher for top honors in the Spring/Summer meet at Belmont Park in dramatic fashion with her 1,000th career victory.
A tip of the Tam O’ Shanter to you Linda Rice.