When she was old enough to go to a racetrack and get a job, trainer Kate DeMasi did, and never left. One of the most respected trainers at Parx Racing*, and the first woman to be inducted into their Hall of Fame, Kate knew at an early age that racing was in her future. Over 35 years later, she’s in the top 10 of trainers at Parx, and is approaching the milestone of 1500 wins.

Growing up in Maryland, she was involved in the Pony Club, learning all about the care of horses, and her family had racehorses with minimal success at the track. She started her career in 1984 working for Richard Dutrow Sr., who she described as a really great guy to work for. “A lot of people have worked for him and gone on to be very successful trainers, like Mike Pino,” she explained, adding that she took out her trainer’s license in 1985 while working for him and went to Delaware Park, which had a training center, and then she got stalls at Garden State Park. “Garden State and Keystone Park, which then became Philadelphia Park were kind of ‘sister tracks’, with the same owner, and they raced in conjunction with each other, with Philadelphia Park in the daytime and Garden State at night. So that’s how I landed at Parx, and I’ve been there ever since”.
In the late 1980’s, Kate and her husband Greg started doing racehorse partnerships, which is how they are probably best known. “Pewter Stable is a way of getting your feet wet in the game without having to own the entire horse, which nowadays is very tough because it’s so expensive.” She describes these partnerships as exciting and fulfilling for someone to experience the thrill of ownership. “We also have owners that, if they were in on a horse while it was racing, then if we breed that horse, they’re in on that horse as a broodmare, so then they are now racing the offspring.”
Trainer Kathleen DeMasi receives her Parx Racing Hall of Fame Plaque from PTHA Executive Director Michael Ballezzi (L) and Parx Racing Secretary Sam Elliott. 9/17/16 Photo By EQUI-PHOTO.

A typical day for the busy trainer includes numerous duties, and her day starts early. “I have really good people working for me, so the days of me running around like crazy is behind me,” she laughs, adding that she employs two full-time assistants. She does travel to Monmouth Park once a week in the summer, but her home base is Parx Racing. “Parx is my main operation, so I’m there every day. If it’s a race day, you’re pretty much there all day long, whether you have a horse in, or you may be looking to claim something”. She also interfaces with different farms, staying in constant communication with the people that have their horses that may be laid up; or the farms with their broodmares and foals, handling the bulk of the management end with her husband. They’ve been breeding horses since 1987, and now raise and race all Pennsylvania breds.

She is a strong supporter of Turning For Home, which she describes as an amazing organization. “It was brought before us, and Mr. Ballezzi Executive Director, Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association said this is the mission we are going to be taking, and it has turned out to be extremely successful,” she said emphatically. She also supports the Thoroughbred Makeover Retired Racehorse Project** in Lexington, which she describes as “Extreme Makeover” for horses. “You have to get a horse off the track, and in less than a year, reschool it and show it off in a competition. All horses are on a level playing field, and it’s exciting to watch! I’ve had horses that I’ve sponsored to go there, and I’ve purchased one there too!” The organization is one of the projects that Turning For Home set the groundwork for, and this year’s competition will take place in October at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Looking back at this challenging year, Kate said it was a time to sit back and just “take a breath and don’t sweat the small stuff”. “For those several months that we weren’t racing, it was so stressful, and we really didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said, emotionally. “We were able to go to work every day, but our jobs depended on us racing and generating income. Money was still going out, taking care of our horses.”
With a 35-plus year training career, what is her favorite part about racing? “Well it’s always thrilling to win,” she laughed. “Seriously, I always enjoy seeing an owner be successful. I’ve always said that racing is a lot like going to the theater, we’re all part of this big production. At the end of the day, you really want to have a good show and make sure everybody has a great time. I especially like when an owner has a horse that was a special case, like with talent but needed to focus, and when all those pieces come together, I find that just really exhilarating.”
She’s looking forward to a new year filled with new challenges, and racing some of what she calls her “good, honest, hard-knockin’ PA bred horses”. And those traits could very well describe this Hall of Fame trainer as well!
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