By Rebecca Roush
Many paths lead to the horse racing industry. Laddie Litfin’s was long and winding.
Growing up in Mahtowa, Minnesota, a small township of less than 600 people, Litfin was always around horses as a child. His father bred and raised the horses to be sold to trainers. In his early teens, Liftin became a jockey and rode in county fair races. He did this until he “outgrew the saddle,” he said. Although race riding was no longer in his future, his career in racing was not over.
“I knew that I wanted to still be involved in horse racing somehow,” Litfin said. “It’s all I’ve ever really known.”
After Litfin met and married his wife Amy in his hometown 50 years ago, the couple had four children, Paige, Candice, Laddie Jr. and future trainer, Nevada Litfin. Laddie soon after picked up a job as a trail rider and “fell in love with it.”
As Nevada got older, he became more and more infatuated with horse racing and often asked Laddie to take him to the track. “That’s all he wanted to do,” Laddie said. After Nevada continued to show interest, Laddie decided to start raising horses of his own for Nevada to train. “Nevada caught on very quickly and has learned a lot along the way,” Litfin commented.
In 2010 Litfin could no longer keep up with the demands of trail riding as a career, so he and his wife decided to begin training horses together. They started with three horses at Canterbury Park and have averaged training that many since. “We’re small time people,” said Litfin. “We don’t need much, as long as we are happy.”
This year has already been Litfin’s most successful yet. Two of his horses have won, making it a top earning meet for him with much of the race meet still ahead.
In just eight years of training horses at Canterbury, the 73-year-old says he has “learned a lot.” At first he found entering horses in the proper races, based on the many available conditions and restrictions, to be tricky. “It was hard to know which horses I could enter into certain races,” he said. “It took a lot of research to learn the ropes.”
Litfin also credits Nevada for his expertise and help. “I may know more than Nevada about horses in general, because I’ve been around them all my life, but when it comes to racing, he just may be one of the smartest trainers,” Litfin said.
One of the biggest lessons Litfin says he has learned throughout this experience is that “it’s important to pay attention and look for opportunities.”
As for Litfin’s future goals, he says he has already met his wife, raised great kids, and he is doing what he loves. “I don’t think I could strive for much more,” he said.