Taught by his grandpa at an early age, trainer Nick Giberson has been involved in harness racing for most of his life. Working with horses like My Heart Was True, Fox Valley Camo and Playing for Keeps over the years have helped him develop his knowledge of the sport and learn what it takes to support and work with Standardbreds. He says “the good ones can teach you how to be a better trainer. That’s what it takes.”
Over the years he’s been fortunate to have a number of wins, but one of his favorites was during his standout year in 2012. “The proudest [wins are your] own. The ones you own part of.” Talking about the $250,000 Orange and Blue Stakes for Illinois-bred 2-year-old male pacers win at Balmoral Park with Fancy Creek Elusiv had Nick all smiles. “A lot of people I grew up with back home own the horse, had a lot to do with the horse. That helped a ton.”
When he was growing up he worked with mostly yearlings, now Nick and his wife Amy have 2 year olds, 3 year olds, and some 4 and 5 year old racehorses. These include a few he’s excited about for the 2014 season, like Fashion Delight and No Respect who’ve turned in a number of 1st and 2nd place finishes recently, and Odds on Rhodonite who should have good things to come. He mentioned the two year olds he’s training now also have potential to be great caliber horses.
For Nick and his family, harness racing is bred in them, “it gets in your blood.” No story illustrates that more eloquently then their love for the recently passed Fox Valley Camo. A horse that gave as much to the family as they did to him, they recently raised money in his name for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Fox Valley Camo was a fan favorite on and off the track, with people showing up at the track wearing camouflage in his honor.
When asked to sum up what harness racing means to him, Nick said, “It means everything to us. it’s a family sport and a good sport to go around. You gotta have fun, that’s the main thing.”
This interview is part of our new weekly features of faces in the sport, from fans to owners, trainers to grooms.