When trainer John Bax recently discussed winning his first Johnston Cup, he confirmed that it was first Ontario Sires Stakes training title. He also confirmed that it would be his last.
After more than four decades, Bax is retiring...in a sense. The veteran horseman told Trot Insider that he'll go out on a high note, with son Matt Bax to be listed as the trainer of record for the stable going forward.
Team Bax has truly been a team effort for quite some time, and according to John that aspect of the operation isn't changing.
"For us, it’s just another step. And Matt, he does all the heavy lifting now and he has for the last number of years so it’s just progression. Everyday, I’m still here and I still work with him. We talk about the decisions that are made on the horses and we talk it over, but I’m at the point now where Matt has the final say and I’m good with that."
John Bax does indeed go out on a proverbial high note after posting a personal best in earnings ($1.93 million) and UTRS (0.307) from the 2022 season. The trotting specialist's career numbers stand at 925 wins and more than $26.8 million in purses. The list of award winning trotters emanating from the Bax barn — be it from the days stabled outside Peterborough or these more recent years in the Campbellville area — boasts the likes of Hall of Famer Goodtimes and divisional champions such as Riveting Rosie, Stubborn Belle, Duke Of York and Define The World.
Ironically, Bax plans to head into his "retirement" doing what he loves — training young horses. While Matt manages the northern arm of the operation, John will handle the development of the younger talent over the winter months at Palema Trotting Center in Florida.
"I love the two-year-olds; I love breaking yearlings and getting them to the races. Even three-year-olds get a little mundane after a while because once you kind of know what they are...unless they are the best and winning all the time, it’s a little easier to bear," said Bax with a smile. "For me, the satisfaction is the young horses and getting them there and making them into something."
Two performers that Bax certainly developed into stars in recent years are siblings Duly Resolved and Righteous Resolve — one 2021 O'Brien Award winner in Duly Resolved and one 2022 O'Brien Award contender in Righteous Resolve (pictured above). While the Bax stable has concentrated more on younger horses in recent years, John confirmed that Duly Resolved is slated to return to his care in 2023 for his four-year-old season.
"We kept him and we’re going to bring him back. [Woodbine Mohawk Park] has a spring series this year which is great for Ontario sired four-year-olds, we’re going to support that," said Bax. "Our intentions are to enjoy him, and you know, try to make him bigger and stronger and see if he can step up to the next level and have some fun with him."