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Horse racing-Unexpected Breeders' Cup joy for Croat trainer

ARCADIA, California, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Croat trainer and sports science expert Vladimir Cerin, who once worked with former tennis world number one Tracy Austin, celebrated his first Breeders’ Cup victory at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.

The 53-year-old from Zagreb watched in delight as jockey Garrett Gomez guided Albertus Maximus across the finish line in the Dirt Mile, the horse’s third race under Cerin’s charge.

Cerin was more surprised than anyone after gaining the attention of the horse’s owners mainly because of his work at UCLA as a specialist in kinesiology, the study of human movement.

“When Mrs (Marianne) Chase called me, I didn’t know who she was,” Cerin told reporters. “I had never talked to her before. She asked me if I knew the horse. I said: ‘Of course, everybody knows that horse.’

“He’s just a magnificent physical specimen, and I didn’t know she was going to ask me to train the horse.”

Chase, who with her husband Brandon produced films for Hollywood before they launched their own breeding and horse racing business, had no doubt Cerin was the right man to take over as trainer of Albertus Maximus from Gary Mandella.


“I did a little bit of homework for a change, not being led by my emotions,” the Dane said. “I had never spoken to Vladimir in my life. I had seen his kind face whenever I had a winner, and that was the extent of our whatever.

“I read about his interest in (the) modern kind of treating horses, transferring from human athletes to animal athletes, horse athletes. And I figured he’s going to be the one for my horse.”

Cerin moved to California in 1974 and gained a graduate degree at UCLA in kinesiology before working in that field for four years with professional athletes such as Austin and basketball player Bill Walton.

He believed some of those training principles could be used in the world of horse racing and he has made the most of his expertise since earning his trainer’s licence in 1981.

“We use a number of modalities that humans use,” Cerin said. “I’ve also purchased and installed at my farm a hyperbaric chamber and he (Albertus Maximus) did have a visit after his last workout to help him recover a little bit.

“Most disease processes and injuries are anaerobic in nature, they thrive in the absence of oxygen. Bone healing, tendon healing requires a lot of oxygen and the hyperbaric chamber brings in oxygen at 95 to 98 percent.”

Editing by Ken Ferris