Breeders' Cup Presents Connections: Cash's Commitment To Racing Is Through The Roof - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Cash’s Commitment To Racing Is Through The Roof

Trainer Norman L. “Lynn” Cash

Trainer Norman L. “Lynn” Cash won his first graded stakes race in the Oct. 29 Kelso (G2) with 42-1 longshot Double Crown, but it is a starter allowance horse who has really put his fledgling stable on the map. 

“I tell people that if I hadn't claimed Beverly Park, nobody would know who I am,” said Cash. “I just happened to grab him at the right time; I didn't pull him forward, he pushed me forward.”

The 5-year-old son of Munnings stands alone atop the North American statistics with 13 victories in 2022; there is a five-way tie for the second position with eight wins apiece. 

More impressive, perhaps, is that Beverly Park has run 28 times this year, and he is entered again on Monday, Dec. 12. No Thoroughbred has run more in 2022; the next highest number of starts is 26, but that horse has just one win on the season.

It's an unusual pattern in the modern era of Thoroughbred racing, to be sure. Then again, at 6'7” in height, his trainer isn't quite the usual backstretch character, either.

“I think we kind of complement each other,” Cash mused. “I think there's a lot of trainers that wouldn't have run him as much, and maybe I ran him too much, but three to four days after a race he can't wait to get back to the track. If you try to hold him back he gets mad; he wants to go. And as far as a healthy horse, he's just completely a tank! We've never had any soundness issues with him.”

Cash grew up in New Mexico with a couple riding horses “that didn't get rode much.” He first remembers becoming a racing fan in the era of the Alydar and Affirmed match-ups, but Cash never considered taking part in the sport until his roofing business brought him and his wife across the Mississippi River to Tennessee. 

“I told my wife, 'Hey, we can go see the Kentucky Derby live!” Cash recalled. “The first time we saw it was Animal Kingdom in 2011, and then the next year it was I'll Have Another.”

Cash and his wife attended all three legs of the Triple Crown in 2012, including the Belmont Stakes after I'll Have Another's scratch the day before the race.

“After the Belmont, I saw in an article that I'll Have Another was bought at auction for $35,000,” said Cash. “I told my wife, 'Hey, we could do that! How fun would that be?'”

Luckily, Cash's wife agreed, and the couple bought their first three Thoroughbreds just a couple weeks later at the OBS June sale of 2-year-olds in training. 

Mal Guapo was the first. A son of Into Mischief, he won two for Cash as owner before being claimed away and going on to win 16 races during his career. (Years later, Cash paid to pull the horse from a horse rescue in Florida and brought him home to his newly-built farm in Midway, Ky.)

Speight's Right (Speightstown), the second purchase, never made it to the races.

Take It Like A Man was the golden ticket from that first group of purchases. A son of Run Away and Hide, the colt won a $400,000 stakes race at Charles Town as a 3-year-old.

“We were kind of hooked from there,” said Cash. “In good years with the roofing company, we would add a couple horses to the stable, and in years that weren't as good, we didn't have the extra money to do that.”

It wasn't always smooth sailing.

“Early on, when I would claim horses, my wife would go and check the bank accounts and I could see the wheels were turning and jaw grinding,” Cash admitted. “I had to explain to her, 'Lola, you gotta think of this as a used car lot. You gotta put cars on the lot, dear; if we got nothing in the barn, we can't make money. We still have the same asset, it's just not liquid right now.' 

“For six months I had to keep reminding her. I don't know if she got tired of hearing the car lot or not, but finally she came around! Then I got smart and bought a filly and named her Lola Flo, for my wife, Lola Florence, and my wife said, 'Let's go get a few more horses.'”

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In early 2020, Cash started thinking about making the switch to racing full time and becoming the trainer for his own stable (he and his wife own all the horses themselves under their Build Wright Stables banner). While Cash lacked the hands-on horse experience that would typically preempt such a move, he had found that the backstretch offered plenty of talented horsemen who often lacked business skills.

“I'm creating a business,” he explained. “I've created businesses that have been profitable and successful, and this is a business that just so happens to deal with horses. I probably lack a little bit on the horseman side, but it's getting better all the time. I'm learning every day, but the frontside claiming, the odds, the spotting horses, that's one of my strengths that helps make up for it.

“I'm having the time of my life. I go and run all the time, and it's not like this is a job, even though it's 80-90 hours a week. I still can't believe we're getting paid to do this; the worst day on the track is better than any day on a roof!”

The two horsemen who've made the biggest difference in Cash's business have been his shedrow foreman, Blas Hernandez, and his assistant trainer, Jay Libertini. 

“When I was first in the barn, going back 18-20 months when I was just starting, it took me a few months to get where I was comfortable around the horses,” said Cash. “I remember being intimidated a little bit; I had to go in and get my education also. I saddled and worked like a groom, even though I was the owner/trainer, I wanted to make sure that I was familiar with these things.”

One of the biggest challenges was learning to ride out the wild ups and downs that are inevitable in this sport.

“Sometimes you go through these dry spells when you get beat up by the big barns, just day after day, race after race, and sometimes it wears on you,” he said. “Last September we had a horrible meet at Churchill, and back then we had a lot more emotion. My wife used to tell me she couldn't stand it when we thought the horse would run well and we ended up walking back through that tunnel at Churchill next to the jockey. Now, a year and a half later, maybe we're able to control that emotion a little better.”

Both the excitement of race day and the thrill of the winner's circle have kept Cash and his wife thoroughly enthralled by the sport, and the trainer can't picture himself doing anything else.

“I just love race day,” Cash said. “I remember when we had only 2-3 horses, back years ago when I was just owner, and it was so exciting that after the race I'd almost be a little depressed – win, lose, or draw – because I had to wait so long for the next one. That doesn't happen now; we run a lot. But that's the fun part, and I still get the same thrill. The claiming side is awfully enjoyable too, especially when we claim one who then does well a race or two later.”

Beverly Park

Cash's most successful claim is not Beverly Park, even though he's the horse who makes the news most often. That honor goes to Sir Alfred James, a $62,500 claim who has now won over $500,000 under Cash's name. Another son of Munnings, Sir Alfred James has won two stakes races and placed in a graded stakes, and even gave Cash a runner on Kentucky Derby day this year in the G1 Churchill Downs Sprint, in which he finished fourth.

“Some horses you claim and they don't move up, so those tend to be losses, but some have just blossomed and just gone crazy,” said Cash. “Beverly Park is one of those, and so is Sir Alfred James, and that makes up for a whole lot of sins.

“Of course it's cool to hear about the Beverly Parks of the world, but there's also the other side, too. I've had horses that I claimed that I was never able to race, and we've worked hard to help find them new homes. One went to be a foxhunter, and it's so cool to get the pictures of him enjoying his new job.”

It appears Cash is setting up for the long haul: any retirees now have a home at his farm in Midway. Cash has nine fillies and mares on the farm to become broodmares, and he also has two retired geldings he utilizes as babysitters.

“I tell everybody I'm going to die in that home, in this business,” Cash said. “You couldn't get me out with a crowbar! Even when I'm not at the races or the barn, I'm still pulling up things on my phone, looking at horses that are in over the next few days, or somebody will call and we're going back in. It's very consuming, and for a while it pushed everything out and it was just racing, but now I've got a little bit more of a balance with other important things in life.”

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