Eppler makes history with Laurel Park fall meet training title

Posted: Jan. 1, 2017

Long-time Maryland-based trainer Mary Eppler made history this fall at Laurel Park when she became the first woman to capture a leading trainer title.

Eppler, who is based at Pimlico Race Course, won 24 races during the fall meet. Overall in 2016, the 62-year-old Baltimore native won 49 races, her most ever in one year. Her 2016 earnings totaled $1,761,971 from 282 starts, also a record for the trainer.

Eppler is only the second woman to lead the standings at a Maryland racing. Karen Patty won the title at the 1992 spring meet at Pimlico.

“It’s wonderful and it’s great for the barn, because my help has been great,” Eppler said. “I just take every day and every race one step at a time because anything can happen in horse racing. You have your ups and downs. It’s a tough game.”

Eppler on the final day of the meet had one horse entered—Double Whammy, who won the first race, a starter allowance test. It was the third win a row for Double Whammy, who is owned by Eppler and Adam Staple of Las Vegas, Nev.

Eppler said things fell into place during the fall meet. She said her horses ran very well, and many fit the condition book.

“She is an excellent caretaker,” said Maryland Jockey Club Vice President of Racing Georganne Hale, who met Eppler when they both worked on the backstretch at Timonium. “Her horses always look good and most of the time run good. She works very hard and she deserves to win a title.”

Eppler, who has won more than 760 races in a training career that began in 1980, has an accounting degree from Loyola College in Maryland. In recent years she is best known as the trainer of Page McKenney, a former claimer who moved up to stakes company and became a millionaire.

Page McKenney, second in last year’s grade II Charles Town Classic, has recovered from an injury and has been working at Pimlico in anticipation of his return in 2017. He is owned by Staple and Jalin Stable.

“As anyone will tell you, that’s Mary’s story—there are no punches pulled, and she is as dead honest as they come,” Staple told MJC media officials. “It’s in her character that she always looks after her owners, and she will always say, ‘I wouldn’t claim a horse for somebody that I wouldn’t want for myself.’ She’s so unorthodox as far as communication. She’ll certainly stay in touch with you, but some other trainers will just tell owners what they want to hear.

“I’m sure she’s lost people because of that because she’ll never do that. It’s very difficult to track to see how many horses really thrive away from her, but I would bet you that it would be a very, very low percentage.”

(Photo by Jim McCue/MJC)