A Johnstown native was on hand last month at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to see I’ll Have Another capture the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown.
The chestnut colt is scheduled to run the third leg of the contest Saturday in the Belmont Stakes. He would be just the 12th horse in history to win the prestigious title and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
Barry Eisaman, who was raised on Coon Ridge Road in Upper Yoder Township, had a hand in the training and sale of the thoroughbred.
Eisaman and his wife, Shari, operate Eisaman Equine Service located on a 300-acre farm in Williston, Fla.
“What we do mainly, we take yearlings that are not yet saddle broken,” Barry Eisaman said.
Trainers work with the horses preparing them for all elements of racing – including the familiarization with a starting gate.
Although many of the horses are owned by Eisaman, I’ll Have Another actually was purchased by an employee.
The horse was trained at the facility and sold by Eisaman – one of about 100 he sells each year.
The employee paid $11,000 for the horse, and Eisaman sold him for $35,000.
The colt’s career earnings are now past $2.6 million.
Although I’ll Have Another did not spend much time at the Eisaman farm, he left his mark.
“We remember him quite well,” Eisaman said. “He was a very good pupil in everything he did here.
“He has improved steadily.”
Eisaman was a pupil at the Westmont Hilltop School District and earned a veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
His mother, Elva Knavel, said Eisaman wanted to be a vet from the time he was about 5 years old.
“And from the time he was 6 years old, he kept pestering us for a pony. Then a horse,” Knavel said.
A horse farm – Coon Ridge Farms – evolved. It is now known as Rolling Ridge Estates.
Knavel, who spends part of her time in Johnstown and part on her son’s farm in Florida, said she is excited about the prospects for a Triple Crown winner.
She said her son keeps track of all the winning horses he has helped develop, including Liaison, who placed sixth in the Derby.
“He follows them all,” Knavel said. “Almost like parents follow their kids.”
Eisaman said it’s rewarding to see his horses do well.
“It’s a lot like winning the World Series or something,” he said.
Finding a winning horse is not always easy.
“The one really big factor is the horse’s desire to play this sport – to run. That is something you really can’t measure until they are on the track.
“I’ll Have Another loved it, and so here he is.”
More information on Eisaman and his farm may be found at www.eisamanequine.com.
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