Ron Westermann‘s first recorded win as a trainer came in 1993 at Columbus Racecourse, not far from where he grew up in the small town of Snyder, Nebraska, population 300. Ron had been involved with horses since he was a young kid but did not make his first trip to a racetrack until he was a senior in high school, accompanying his math teacher to Aksarben in Omaha.
It was not long after that he became acquainted with trainer Herb Riecken, a Nebraska racing hall of famer. Westermann bred a few horses and eventually Riecken asked him to come to work for him, a relationship that lasted many years. Those familiar with Canterbury racing in the 80s and early 90s may remember Riecken as the trainer of the legendary Who Doctor Who. “I learned a lot from Herb,” Westermann said. It was Ron who often traveled with the Riecken horses when they shipped to run, returning to the farm in Fremont, NE after the races.
When Riecken scaled back, Westermann took some of the horses on and acquired some of the owners as well. He stayed in Nebraska for the most part before giving Shakopee a try in 2014. He has been coming here ever since. It was about four years ago that Westermann decided to leave his home state and try Oaklawn where he could daily see “the best horses in the country.” His owners liked the idea. The fall meet at Remington in Oklahoma was added to the rotation in 2018 as well, a logical destination filling in the gap at the conclusion of Canterbury.
Westermann does things his way. He is old school in the best sense of that description. He keeps a small stable, cares greatly for his horses, wins his fair share of the races, and thoroughly enjoys what he does. His barn is in the D Row, furthest from the racetrack and away from the hustle and bustle, where he can mind his own business.
Through early last week he had won three races from 18 starts this summer including a victory Tuesday with Thick Haze who paid $15. Westermann had claimed the 3-year-old for $15,000 for owner Todd Veerhusen on May 20 and lost him back via claim after the win for $25,000 in the gelding’s first try over the grass.