Photo Credit: Jessica Otten (Brad Kramer with T Red on May 5th, 2017 at Northville Downs)
“I knew I liked winning, when I made my very first driving a start, a winning one.” –Brad Kramer
Most people set goals in life and work every day towards them. For every person they are different and sometimes you may not even know what you’re accomplishing until it arrives to you. I recently sat down with driver and trainer Brad Kramer whom reached his 8,000th driving win on April 29th, 2017 at Northville Downs. It was the last race of the night, Brad knew he was at 7,997 wins going into the trace card and had to win three races that night to get to 8,000. “A lot of people get stuck on a number near the milestone, for me, it always come up quick. My wife really wanted to be here for the win, but she didn’t end up coming. I knew I had a chance to win three out of the first four races, I ended up winning two. After that he rest of my line up didn’t look to promising so when it happened I was shocked.” Kramer said. Not only was he the longest shot on the board, but he was sitting last going around the last turn heading into the stretch. “Everyone scooted over and I came up the inside for the win, of course I was excited, I wasn’t expecting that.” Brad won the last race of the night with Mystical Beach for trainer Dani Neil. Brad has come a long way since he started driving horses at the age of 30. Brad was my neighbor for over ten years, but when I got the chance to actually sit down and talk to him about his life in this business it was interesting, his life story isn’t quite like everyone else in the business. Brad is a first generation horseman, by choice, growing up he had no involvement with the horses. “I quit college at the age of 19 and got a job at Shiawassee farms cleaning stalls. I started working for Bill Deters who was a fantastic guy, he really made me love the business. I worked for him for about 6 years.” explained Kramer. He wasn’t like most, he didn’t start driving horses right away, he started at the bottom by cleaning stalls and he worked his way up, he was little delayed but it has seemed to work out for him. Like most in this industry we were born into the business and it’s in our blood, a lot of us have family that has helped us along the way and guided us, for Brad that was different. He had many people help him along the way, but he did a lot of it on his own. “And for that I’m the proudest of. I had to fight to get where I am at today.” Over the last 30 years Kramer has drove all over North America, he says he prefers a half mile track because he considers himself an aggressive driver, “I like to leave the gate a lot. But I don’t have a hard time adapting to the bigger tracks when I go to them, just gear down a little bit and save the speed from the horse.” There is a track that does stand out to him, that is Saratoga. “It was a nice place to be, the people were great and I had some luck out there. I had good people to drive for who had nice horses, it was a good experience.” Kramer said. Brad doesn’t just drive horses, growing up around him he always had a barn full of horses, especially the babies. When I mentioned his winter job, training babies for Casie Coleman in South Florida, the smile on his face really said it all. “I love training babies and I love working for Casie Coleman and sitting behind some of the best horses in North America, it’s an awesome feeling.” I asked Brad if he preferred training over driving, his response was “when I first got started I never really thought I would become a driver because it takes so much to break into and I wasn’t going to hurt myself trying to become a driver. I knew I could be a good enough trainer to make money, then when I started winning with my own, not only did people want me to train their horses for them, there were also people who wanted to me to catch drive their horses. And from there it kind of just kicked off both my training and driving career. I love doing both. And I always loved the feeling of taking care of and doing well with my own horses.” Everyone has someone they look up to, Brad said “Other than Bill Deters, there is one other man that stands out to me, Leroy Copeland, he really took my under his wing and pushed me to always keep going. He was an amazing horseman and all around a great man, taught me a lot, not only about taking care of the horses but training them also, he really helped me get started as a driver and trainer. If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be where I am at today.” Mr. Kramer has driven in many races over the past 30 years, I know as an owner all wins are exciting to me. When I asked Brad if he had one certain win that stuck out, he wasn’t hesitant at all to answer. “The most exciting win I ever had, my best friend that really got my started on my own training was Bobby Mar from New Jersey, who passed away at a young age. The horse that turned out to be my first State Champion here in Michigan, was named Baha Bobby, named after him. He drew the 8 hole in the 10 horse field final at Saginaw Raceway going for a purse of $117,000.” Kramer paused for a moment and with a smile on his face he said, “I won it and we set the track record”. I could tell he was still very proud of that moment not just because of the money or getting the win, but because it was for his good friend Bobby. “It was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Brad said. Some people don’t realize all the hard work and dedication it does into training and driving horses. To some 8,000 wins is just a number, to others, like Brad, it is something special. “Not many drivers make it to 8,000, but I am one of them that did, to me it’s a great accomplishment and something I will always be proud of.”
Congratulations Brad, here’s to many more!