By Katie Merritt
Trainer Lynn Rarick hasn’t always made her living training racehorses, but equines have certainly always been a part of her life.
She grew up in Alexandria, Minn., about two hours north of Shakopee, riding on her grandfather’s farm on his American Saddlebreds. When she went to college to get her degree in Elementary Education, she met her first husband, who raised and trained Quarter Horses to show. She and her then-husband began buying horses off the track and retraining them to run barrels.
“That’s how I got into the racetrack side of things,” explained Rarick. “I bought my first few racehorses to retrain from Tom Maher, and he would let me work them off at the track on the weekends.”
When Lynn and her first husband divorced, she taught school for level 5 behavior problem kids in Granite Falls, where she also coached volleyball and basketball for 8th graders. Looking back, she can see quite a few similarities between teaching students and training horses. “If you have a student that is struggling and you help them out and you see how they get better and understand the learning process, you get gratification when they do well in school,” she pointed out, adding, “The harder you work with your horses, the better they perform because they want to please you.” In both respects, patience and hard work are keys to success.
It didn’t take long before Lynn was drawn back to horses and to the racetrack, where she worked for trainer Troy Bethke for eight years. It was during that time that she met her now-husband, Randy “Red” Rarick, David Van Winkle’s assistant trainer at the time. They have been married for 13 years. Though Lynn got her trainer’s license when she was working for Bethke, when she and ‘Red’ got married, they moved to Phoenix where she got a job at PetSmart that was too good to leave. “They’d promote me every May so I wouldn’t leave,” laughed Rarick, “So I worked for them for five years, year-round, while Red would bring the horses up here to Canterbury for the summer!” After five years, however, Lynn really began to miss working with the horses. “I took a summer off from PetSmart and I never went back. And so then Red and I just kind of worked together and did it hand-in-hand.”
Over the years the Rarick barn has had several nice horses and quite a bit of success. In 2006, their horse by the name of Castello D’Oro won the Claiming Crown Express Stakes.
“That was probably the most exciting win we’ve ever had,” Lynn said, “We claimed him for $12,500, and then he won a $50,000 race!”
Other barn favorites have been older ‘war horses’ like Castor Troy, who ran for them for several years, or Benny’s Glory, who is now 6, and they’ve been training since he was two. “They end up being like barn pets,” Lynn smiled, her love for horses shining through.
For several years, the Rarick barn moved their shedrow from Canterbury to Turf Paradise in Phoenix for the winter, but over the last few, they’ve switched it up and gone to Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, stopping in at Keeneland for their month-long Fall meet on the way. Lynn currently has 22 horses here at Canterbury, but will head to Tampa with around 10 or 12. “We like to leave here with a lower number of horses so we can claim some when we get down there,” Lynn pointed out.
Just as horses are in the blood of Lynn and Red, they are in the blood of a couple of their children as well. Red’s son, Wade Rarick, is also a trainer at Canterbury Park, and Lynn’s son, Andrew Gawarecki, can be found in Lynn’s barn every morning, helping to manage the shedrow and ponying some of the more rambunctious runners to the racetrack. “Andrew really thrives with the horses,” said Lynn. “When he was little, he would sit out in front of our bedroom door waiting for Red or I to wake up at 5 o’ clock in the morning to go to the barn,” she added with a smile. Now, one could say that Lynn is coming full circle – while she is training horses and doing what she loves, Lynn is also teaching; teaching her son to follow in her footsteps.