The Harness Racers: Hot to Trot
At Vero Beach’s Palema Center, a team of Swedes is raising the future
stars of a fascinating sport.
Photographed by Jon Pine
Head trainer Staffan Lind prepares $260,000 Dream Hanover for the yearling’s first race in June. Owner Karl-Erik Bender is betting on a winner.
There is a new breed in town. They’re young standard bred horses stabled and trained for harness racing across the U.S. and around the globe. Located on 60 acres west of downtown Vero Beach, these future pacers and trotters are enjoying a privileged lifestyle. The Palema Training Center is exclusive to harness-racing training, and while not open to the public it further underscores the advantages of Vero Beach – the weather, proximity to an airport, affordable land and other amenities.
“We pamper the horses and treat them like Olympic athletes. They have the best of everything – 24-hour on-call veterinarian care, a spa-like treadmill, massages, high-quality feed and hay as well as premier stables and a very caring staff with a passion for these beautiful, strong animals,” says Staffan Lind, head trainer at the Center. Each horse gets the kind of individual attention that a parent might give to a child. It varies depending upon their personalities, skills, interests and health.
The Center has enough stables to shelter 90 or so horses. There are 25 “private paddocks” to give the animals their own space, a 5/8ths-of-a-mile long oblong track, a 5/8ths-of-a-mile straightway track and a 5/8ths-of-a-mile deep-sand jogging track. The harness training center compound also has its own self-contained water system, enough to provide fresh water for five days in the event of a county-wide water outage during severe weather conditions. All of it is enough to make an Olympic athlete envious.
Read the entire article in the Summer 2011 issue