By Megan Johnson
Canterbury Hall of Famer Doug Oliver has been involved in the racing industry for a majority of his life and has been a thoroughbred trainer at Canterbury more than 20 years. He has earned champion training titles at Turf Paradise in Phoenix and was the leader at Canterbury Park from 1999 to 2001.
Doug began his training career in Colorado where his father and he trained a couple horses on the weekends. After training for a couple of years he was drafted and was in the service for two years, one of those years being in Vietnam as a vet tech. “When I came home from Vietnam I picked up training horses again,” he said.
When Doug and his father trained together they split up their horses and Doug went to California and Arizona while his father stayed in Colorado. During this time he raced at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Turf Paradise, and county fairground meets. In 1985, Doug decided to come to Canterbury and he has been here during the summers ever since.
With almost 9,000 career starts, Doug has earned his clients more than 1,300 wins and $13,800,000 in earnings. One of Doug’s most successful horses, Honor The Hero, was a multiple graded stakes winner and a Breeders’ Cup Sprint participant. Honor The Hero also has a stakes race at Canterbury that is named after him. This year he had about 11 horses in training in his barn including Twooliversandatwist, Irish Beauty and stakes winner Speed Is Life.
“In the 70’s my dad and I owned all of our horses together and we wound up getting a really good horse,” he explained. “Cherry River was the name of the horse and he was the fourth fastest horse in the nation at the time and won over $300,000 in purses. He’s the horse that I recall having a lot of fun with in my earlier training days.”
Realizing that something will most likely go wrong with a horse is one of the biggest lessons Doug has learned while training over the years. “I don’t care how many things you have seen in this industry, there’s going to be something that you haven’t seen happen before,” he said. “I’m not sure why but that just seems to be how it is.”
Like many people in the racing industry, Doug has had a hard time when it comes to retiring from training. “I get another good horse and you double think about really wanting to leave, but if I wasn’t training I would want to be in Colorado up on a mountain with my friend who has cattle up there,” he said. When Doug isn’t at Canterbury during the summers he spends his time with his family and resides at his home in Phoenix where he trains.