trainer rafael schistl off to a great start in 2023

By Dick Jerardi

Trainer Rafael Schistl was likely destined to be in horse racing. His path to Parx Racing, however, has not been straight, but, now that he is here, he is regularly finding his way to the winner’s circle.  His first seven starters at Parx in 2023: three wins, four seconds.

Schistl’s grandfather was involved with horses. His father and two brothers are trainers.

“It’s just generations coming along together,” Schistl said. “We all love it…I didn’t even want to go to school. I always wanted to be with horses when I was a kid.”

Before his weight proved too difficult to overcome, Schistl was, by his own thinking, a “decent jockey,” riding horses in “New Zealand, France, Germany, all over the small countries overseas,” after doing his apprenticeship in Brazil.

“It was very good to take chances,” Schistl said. “I never let the chance go by me without giving it a try.”

With his jockey days behind him, Schistl journeyed to the United States.

“I said I want to break yearlings,” Schistl remembered. “I went to work for Eddie Woods in Ocala, one season for him.”

Then, he met an owner who wanted him to train some of his horses. He ended up at Tampa Bay Downs in 2021. Through early 2023, he had started 344 horses with 49 wins, 45 seconds and 41 thirds.

According to Schistl, owner Kingdom Racing has a lot of New York breds and after considering a few tracks, decided to bring his horses to Parx.

“We came with five horses, now we’ve got about 12,” Schistl said. “The place has been good for us.”

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