The fact that Dean Frey is a trainer at Los Alamitos Race Course would come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his background. His father was a trainer at the track almost 40 years ago, and Frey was a Los Alamitos jockey for approximately 10 years before he obtained his training license.
What is novel, however, is the stable of horses that Frey trains. Frey's main client is the Darley Stable owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, one of seven emirates comprising the country.
Sheikh Mohammed and his brothers own one of the largest racing operations in the world. Based in Dubai, their horses have competed in nearly every racing jurisdiction, and they are one of the most prominent owners of Arabians at Los Alamitos Race Course. Through July 15, the Darley Stable is the leading Arabian owner at Los Alamitos Race Course. With just one Arabian client, Frey is second in the Los Alamitos trainer standings with 13 victories in 52 starts this season.
"They're really good to train for. I can't say enough good about them," Frey said. "They're good pay, and they're very easy to deal with."
However Frey is about to come to a crossroads in his training career. After almost 20 years of training, and most of those for Darley Stable, Frey said he would plan to switch his tack from a stable of mostly Arabians to a stable of mostly Quarter Horses, which Frey says are his "first love."
Frey said that Darley Stable is planning to cut back its Arabian breeding operation to focus more on their Thoroughbreds, thus leading to a new phase in the 50-year-old trainer's life.
"I'm going to try to get back into Quarter Horses and be a little more aggressive in getting some Quarter Horse clients." Frey said.
Darley Stable will continue to be highly involved in racing Arabians.
Frey's father was a Quarter Horse trainer in Salem, Oregon, before moving his operation to Los Alamitos Race Course. After a career as a jockey that he said "wasn't really lucrative," Frey took over for his father. About two years after Frey became a trainer, Darley Stable contacted him. Although Frey said he has never been to Dubai, he deals regularly with the stable's racing manager, Bill Smith, and said that Sheikh Mohammed is very hands-on in his racing operations. The Arabians Frey trains are raised in Florida and then dispersed around the country. Arabians that show particular promise are sometimes shipped to race in Dubai.
Frey and Darley Stable have had many successes together. Thunder Tiki, the first Arabian Frey trained for Darley Stable, finished second in the Drinkers of the Wind, the richest Arabian race at Los Alamitos Race Course. Frey also conditioned PS Crystal Sage, a former Los Alamitos track-record holder at 4 1/2 furlongs.
More recently, Frey trained Forty All to three wins in four starts in 2006 with her only defeat being a third-place finish in the $100,000 Daughters of the Desert Oaks. Frey's Bessemer won four races, three of them stakes, in 2006. The up-and-coming Arabian for Frey in 2007 has been the undefeated 5-year-old mare Dunoire, who has won three races this year after a 20-month absence from the track.
"I've had a lot of nice horses for them," Frey said. "It's hard to name a favorite or which one is best."
In addition to the Arabians he trains for Darley Stable, Frey also raises Quarter Horses at a farm in Sanger, Calif., near Fresno. In total, Frey has approximately 20 horses in his barn. "My dad and I have some mares and babies, and we market our babies a little bit and sell them. A couple of them we've kept and run."
Although he has had many successes, Frey said a win that stands out for him for sentimental reasons was the $21,700 Pioneer Derby for Paint Horses in February 2007. Frey bred and raised winner Blame It On Mama, and Frey's 17-year-old daughter Dusti owned the 3-year-old filly.
"That was probably the most exciting for everybody in our family," Frey said.
In addition to Dusti, Frey's other daughters are 29-year-old Jennifer and 26-year-old Kristin.
After focusing on one client for such a long time, Frey said he hopes to get new clients "by word of mouth."
"And hopefully it's a good word," Frey concluded.