Thursday, January 7, 2016

Maria Borell named 2015 Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year

After a Cinderella Thoroughbred racing season that led to nearly $1.3 million in earnings and six first-place finishes, Kentucky-based horse trainer Maria Borell surged into the limelight due to her work with a one-of-a-kind horse named Runhappy. Her humble beginnings and surge to the top led Borell to the title of 2015 National Horse Trainer of the Year, an award sponsored by Greatmats, a Wisconsin-based specialty flooring company. The Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year Award is designed to recognize horse trainers who have made a positive impact on the lives of their horses and community through integrity, quality training and impeccable service.

The Cinderella Season
Borell, a former Equine Veterinary Technician, specializing in ICU foal care, at Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala, Florida, hadn't had much success in the winner's circle prior to Runhappy. In fact she had won exactly 0 of her first 22 races prior to being called in to help Runhappy through a stress fracture in his tibia in the spring. She'd also never before had the same caliber of bloodlines to work with. Runhappy had won 1 of his 2 races prior to Maria entering the picture, but Maria knew immediately that the offspring of 2010 Kentucky Derby Champion Super Saver, had what it takes to go to the Breeder's Cup, and Runhappy lived up to her expectations.

Runhappy not only won all five of his races (including the 2015 G1 Kings Bishop) under Borell's tutelage, but set a track record with the help of Hall-of-Fame jockey Edgar Prado at the 2015 Breeder's Cup Sprint at Keeneland in Lexington in October.

That victory marked Maria's sixth win of the year – and her career. It also marked the end of the road for Borell and Runhappy as a dynamic duo.

Maria, who owned Beacon Hill Farm/Borell Racing in Lexington, Kentucky, where she bred, raised and trained Thoroughbred horses, was released by Runhappy's owner the next day, following a disagreement over whether to send Runhappy to the track despite “fill and heat” in his ankle. Borell felt it would not be in the horse's best interest to be on the track. 

A few weeks after her unexpected split from Runhappy, Borell accepted a position training at Drawing Away Stable based out of Westbury, New York and is acquiring, training and entering horses at south Florida's Gulfstream Park.

National Horse Trainer of the Year Contest
Much like her training career, Maria's start in the 2015 Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year Contest took some time to generate momentum. But in the final 24 hours of the two-week-long nationwide social media vote, Maria came on fast and furious, exchanging leads multiple times with Wisconsin natural horsemanship trainer Jessie Baillargeon in the final stretch. In the end, Borell took the victory by just 14 votes.

Greatmats is a national specialty flooring industry leader based in Milltown, Wisconsin, since 1999. Identified as one of the top 3,000 fastest growing companies in the USA three times since 2008, Greatmats has earned an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and 9.5 TrustPilot rating through its Golden Rule customer service practices. Greatmats gives back to its local community by donating 5% of its annual profits to local non-profit organizations. It also supports green initiatives through the use of solar energy at its Wisconsin headquarters and by offering a large variety of products made from recycled and renewable resources. To learn more about Greatmats, visit