Trainer Kathleen DeMasi - On the List of Top 6 Women Trainers in 2023
By Jennifer Starr
In December, Horse Racing Today announced the Top 6 Female Trainers of 2023 based on earnings. Parx Racing Hall of Fame trainer Kathleen Demasi rounded out that prestigious group of women at number 6 with $2,368,270 in earnings.
Kate was excited and happy to be on that list, which included trainers Brittany Russell; Cherie DeVaux; Victoria Oliver; Josie Carroll and Linda Rice. “I really do enjoy what I do,” she said. “I like being around the horses. It’s all about team too. I’ve been blessed to have good people around me and good owners, so it’s been a team effort in all stages.”
Her 2023 season was memorable with many highlights for the Parx-based trainer. “I think the number one highlight was that we had a nice filly that we tried on the turf, named All That Magic (Fast Anna-Hermione’s Magic by Forest Wildcat), and she reeled out four wins in a row! She won a stake on the grass at Monmouth Park, and we tried her in the Parx Turf Monster Stakes, but it rained and rained. So we ran, and the turf was really soft. She didn’t run good, and snapped her four-race winning streak. So we ran her out at Keeneland, and she did something new, she came from off the pace on the turf, and really won impressively. That was a nice big purse. She had five wins in the year, so it was REALLY exciting!”
While the filly stands out as the shining star of 2033, this is not the first and only turf horse she has trained in her career. “I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve run many horses that I’ve tried on the turf, and they just found new life. I have certain horses, and I’m more apt to try them on the grass sometimes.”
“All That Magic wasn’t one that I was thinking ‘turf’ all along, but tried her just because we didn’t have a lot of options open at the time, and she just became a totally different horse all together, on the turf. She’s getting the winter off, for now.”
Kate grew up in Maryland, where she was involved in the Pony Club, learning all about the care of horses. 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.”
Today, she has 1763 wins in a stellar career that is approaching 40 years, and looking back at the 2023 season, she spotlights what she calls ‘bread and butter horses’. “They picked up some allowance races. (In 2023) I had another Pennsylvania bred that was bred by Blackstone Farm, and that filly, named Mia Tosca (Animal Kingdomout of Queen Scheherazade by Smart Strike, won the $100,000 Dr. Teresa Garafolo Memorial on (Pennsylvania Day at the Races) August 21. That was another stakes winner we had this year, so that was pretty cool as well.”
“She’s (Mia Tosca) turned out some really nice purses in being a Pennsylvania bred and making extra bonus money, so I think that speaks to the program of why I was fortunate to be in the top 6 of women trainers by money earned, because Pennsylvania, and particularly Parx, has such a great program, and especially if you have Pennsylvania breds in your barn, it really speaks to the fact that you can have the increased purses, and make that added money.”
Winter racing can be challenging, but Kate and her team take it in stride and go day by day. “We’ve had such easy winters in terms of temperatures the last couple years, and we have yet to really get into winter now. It’s usually January and February that you get those cold and wet days, and then it gets below freezing. You just have to take one day at a time and go, you know what? The sun will come out tomorrow! If you put yourself into a frenzy over what the weather is, give it 24-48 hours, and it’s thawing out. You cope with it the best you can, keeping your people and your horses healthy.”
Kate currently has a staff of about 25, and 33 horses in her barn at this time of the year. “We’re a little on the lighter side with horses now, because I do send a lot of them home. I have a lot that are at the different farms for the winter, and babies that are at the training center that will be coming along for next year. We kind of like to take a little bit of an easier time through the winter because it’s a time when you’re kind of getting ready for the next season.”
She enjoys training the ‘babies’, and looks forward to what they will bring to the track. “You always think about the babies as your future, and are always excited that you get one or two will go to the head of the class,” she laughed. “Most of the babies we have are all Pennsylvania breds, and for the most part, we keep them locally, so they’re in the Delaware Valley, only an hour and a half away to drive down to see their progression.”
More women trainers are stepping to the forefront of horse racing, and Kate sees this continuing into the future. “I’ve been at this a while, and I’ve seen the changes over the years where, there weren’t as many women in the industry, and certainly not in the industry in the way that we see them now. They were probably behind the scenes more. But you know, even from Racing Secretaries, there’s a woman in that position in Maryland; one at Penn National; one at Tampa. We have the first female announcer here in Pennsylvania, so you’re seeing a lot of women do these jobs that have been pretty much male jobs in the past. I think there been so many people that have come before us that have paved the way, and I think that we’ve all kind of pushed forward each year.”
She’s looking forward to another season and a new year, and puts it into perspective this way. “One of my favorite scenes in the movie ‘Cast Away’, at the end, Tom Hanks is looking down the road, and he had just told his friend that’s he’s just going to keep breathing. And, you know, that’s what you do, because every day is a new day to start, and every day you just kind of have to take a deep breath, and savor the day. You just keep doing it. And you hope each day is a little better than the last one. You just keep moving forward.”
Career Statistics – Equibase
Starts – 12,188
Firsts – 1763
Seconds – 1616
Thirds – 1592
Total Earnings – $39,761,259
2016 – First woman trainer inducted to the Parx Racing Hall of Fame
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