By Megan Johnson
Joel Berndt, a graded stakes placed trainer, has been training horses for 25 years. Joel has had more than 50 starts this meet with 11 wins, one being the MTA Sales Graduate Futurity with Fridaynitestar. Joel currently trains 25 horses at Canterbury and greatly enjoys his summers spent here.
Q: How did you get started in racing?
A: My grandfather and father were trainers. My father managed a thoroughbred farm for the owners of Arlington Park so it’s been a part of the family. I started officially training at Fonner Park in Grand Island, Nebraska in 1991, although before that I did run some horses at the fairs during college but that was more for just experience.
Q: Where do you call home when you’re not at the racetrack?
A: I’m originally from South Dakota but we moved to Chicago for a majority of my childhood and then moved back to South Dakota. After I started training I decided to go back to Chicago in 1993 and I now consider that home.
Q: How many horses do you have here?
A: I have 25 horses here this summer. I’ve found that it is better to just run one barn at a time because I can’t always be in the right place when its needed when there are horses in two places.
Q: What has kept you coming back to Canterbury over the years?
A: I was here at Canterbury with just a couple horses in the early years but I have been coming back periodically in the summers for the past 15 years now. I really enjoy racing here. It’s about the best summer destination you can have. The people are friendly and the employees are very accommodating.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory while training?
A: There’s not a specific race but in general, one my best horses, Silver Bid, was Illinois Sprinting Champion and made $800,000 in earnings. He was one of my favorites.
Q: What is the biggest lesson training has taught you?
A: The number one thing you need to teach yourself as a trainer and the people around you is to have patience and not panic. I think having patience is an important thing to have in any sport but with horses it’s a little different.
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of racing?
A: I have a lot of hobbies I would love to do but I haven’t had the chance to do. Two are fishing and hunting. I also enjoy football and golf.
Q: What is your favorite type of food?
A: Any type of Mexican food is by far my favorite!
Q: What was it like to win the MTA Sales Graduate Futurity this meet with Fridaynitestar?
A: That was fun! Training every day for almost 30 years is a lot of fun, but that day was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We bought him as yearling and it was fun watching him develop from an awkward yearling stage to him being very mature and then all the sudden standing in the winner’s circle.
Q: If you weren’t a trainer what would you want to do for a career?
A: I would love to be an NFL scout because I love football. It’s also very similar to looking for new horses in the sales each year.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie?
A: Legends of the Fall with Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins or Apocalypse Now.