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Groom Elite Program Returns to Gulfstream Park

C. Reid McLellan, aka Dr. Mac, is back at Gulfstream Park this winter to teach the Groom Elite 101 program to backstretch workers and individuals interested in working with racehorses. The five-week program offers an overview of a variety of topics, including Horse Behavior, Health, Conformation (including bones of front and rear leg), Digestive System and Feeding (with an emphasis on colic), and Bandaging and Tacking. The classes are designed to help grooms improve their horsemanship skills, to assist hotwalkers in taking the next step to become grooms, and to provide the groundwork for newcomers looking to get into horseracing. At the end of the course, the students are tested and, if they pass the requirements, are awarded certification at one of five levels (Entry, Basic, Qualified, Experienced, and Elite).

Classes started the week of Jan. 9, 2023, and are held in the trainer’s lounge at Gulftstream Park from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays through the week of Feb. 13, 2023. Groom Elite 101 is sponsored jointly by FTHA and 1S/T Racing. There is no cost to the students, and they will receive lunch on class days, as well as a jacket upon completion of the program.

“Certified grooms increase their value as an asset to the team,” McLellan said. “Trainers report that certified grooms, even those with many years of experience, pay closer attention to their horses and provide information that helps trainers act before a small problem becomes a serious injury.”

Added FTHA Executive Director Andy Belfiore, “The Groom Elite Program was a staple of backstretch education sponsored by the horsemen’s group and the track for many years, but had to be suspended when the pandemic hit. We’re thrilled to be able to bring this great program back to Gulfstream Park. We believe it will be a benefit to the workers, the trainers and to the horses.”

Trainers are encouraged to enroll workers in the program. For more information, contact Herb Oster at