Michael Lauer, Trainer
Mike Lauer is no stranger to those in the horse racing community as he has been training horses and winning races for over 35 years. A 1975 graduate of The Ohio State University, Lauer has been training horses since he was an undergrad and credits his interest in horse training to his father. “My Father always had a few horses in training and always had a few mares around and it sparked my interest.” Lauer says. To date, Mike has over 600 wins under his belt.
A typical day for Lauer begins at 4 AM and generally by 530 AM you can find him at the track getting the horses started with their daily training programs. Many of the horses that Lauer skillfully trains have been raised on the family‘s farm but many horses trained are those purchased by, or sent to him by clients, as well as horses that have been bought as yearlings or claimed.
Training operations are based at Churchill Downs, but Lauer stables horses throughout the year in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Carolina and Arkansas. The majority of racing is done at tracks in Indiana and Kentucky, but often in the Midwest and Northeast as well. Over the years Lauer has won his share of races with prized horses such as Trust N Seven, No Choice, Snack, Ghost Queen, Mor Chances, Mocha Queen, Seventies, Leaha, Mitey Straight and Mitey J. Lauer also trained 3 champion fillies in Indiana, including Amature’s Prize, Trust N Seven and Miss Dakota. For more of Mike’s accomplishments, visit the history page.
Acknowledging that there are many aspects of horse training that he enjoys, Lauer admits to being especially fond of the ability to watch the horses grow in their performance ability and takes pleasure in eventually winning the race planned for each horse. However, he recognizes the challenges of horse training as well. “Getting them to run faster and harder and trying to get the best out of them is the hardest,” he says.
Michael serves on the Indiana HBPA’s (horseman’s benevolence and protective association) board of directors as a trainer representative. Through his involvement, Mike seeks to see conditions for backside employees improve, stable grounds cleaned-up and added-to and relations between horseman, racetracks and the political sector grow to benefit racing.
In addition to being a highly successful horse trainer Lauer is also a family man. Lauer and his wife Penny, married 29 years, live on a 130-acre farm in Finchville, Kentucky with their three daughters Elizabeth, 26, Sara, 22, and Abby, 19.
The farm is a family affair according to oldest daughter Elizabeth. “Dad trains the horses, Mom does the books, and me and my sisters help on the farm and with odds and ends,” she says. Lauer is currently accepting clients and horses that are ready to enjoy thoroughbred racing.
Penny Lauer is a 1975 graduate of Western Michigan University and was Michael’s Chicago-raised bride 29 years ago. Though Penny was originally a teacher, Mike and Penny met in a restaurant across the street from Arlington Park, where Mike was training at the time. Together they honeymooned in Hot Springs, later moved to Louisville, Kentucky and eventually found a farm in Finchville, Kentucky. They have since raised their three daughters on the farm where Penny manages the bookkeeping, horse juggling and daily operations. It is here that the Lauers raise their mares and foals.
Penny has been involved in the thoroughbred horse business for more than 30 years. She manages the daily operations and needs of both the racing and breeding businesses, and is well aware of challenges that horsewomen and men face. As an owner-board member on the Indiana HBPA (horseman’s benevolence and protective association) Penny hopes to facilitate and see improvement in the purses, track conditions and policies.
Raised on the farm, she chose to start out in the barn but now resides just down the road in Shelbyville, Kentucky where she shares her historic loft studio with a Westie-dog. Elizabeth graduated in 2009 from Western Kentucky University with a degree in photojournalism and entrepreneurship. Upon graduation she purchased a historical two-story storefront where she runs her wedding and portrait studio, Lizzie Loo Photography, and lives in the restored loft above with her husband, Luke.
Though she specializes in wedding and children’s portraiture, Elizabeth has a vast array of equine imagery for sale and use. She began her photography career when Mike urged her to take a chance at photographing the Derby and Oaks for Churchill Downs. Four Derby seasons later and Elizabeth stopped shooting for Churchill when her school schedule conflicted and began her business. Though she has a strong love for the portrait and wedding work she is known for, her interests lie in documentary pieces that open minds and expose situations. Most of the work here is hers, and is available for purchase by contacting her.
Sara is a recent graduate from Morehead State University where she studied Elementary Education. She graduated with high honors, and was a member of the Dean’s List all eight semesters. She was an active member of the Student Ambassador program, Theta Alpha Phi, and was an Events and Fundraising Coordinator for the Alumni Association raising over $60,000 personally. She plans on pursuing her teaching career in Louisville and looks forward to getting her own classroom soon.
Currently she resides in Middletown, Ky with her husband Justen. She is continuing her education at Morehead State University to earn her masters degree, with an emphasis in English as a Second Language.
She also enjoys sewing, baking, and being active outdoors. This year she looks forward to traveling all over.
Abby is the youngest daughter. At 20-years-old, she is currently attending Morehead State University where she is a sophomore. Abby is double majoring in Agriculture Business and Equine Management. She hopes to train saddlebreds when she is out of school.
Abby is awesome. Abby enjoys being at the farm and playing with her retired saddlebred Dragon, pictured to the right.
Abby also helps Penny in the office and the barn crew outside in the summertime. She enjoys sleeping, singing too loudly and playing with the barn cats.