Trainer John Rodriguez Retires
By Danielle Gibson
Accomplished horseman and trainer John Rodriguez is retiring after a 37- year career. Growing up in Salem, New Hampshire, just 3 miles from Rockingham Park, there was no doubt John would become a trainer, following in the footsteps of his father, the former jockey Emilio Rodriguez, who also trained racehorses after his riding career.
Some of John’s first memories are moving from track to track and walking horses at Green Mountain Park in the mid ‘60s. He remembers those days fondly and credits learning a lot from when he started working for his stepfather, trainer Joe Provost.
John took out his trainer’s license in 1985 and went back and forth on the Suffolk Downs/Rockingham circuit. He remembers winning a stakes race with Lee’s Notion, a horse given to him to train by his father.
When New England’s tracks closed their doors, he moved to Parx Racing. Some memorable horses and high-money earners he trained are Crafty Concorde, Miz Maggie Mae, and the hard knocker General Bellamy who was just cool to be around and a stone-cold runner.
John also strived to have happy horses, so of course the rest would follow. He adopted a philosophy to make their training as enjoyable as can be. John always tried to keep his outfit small so he could manage it himself along with his longtime assistant Carlos.
He said he will really miss all the friendly folks here at Parx, from each racing secretary we had (Sal, Sam, and David) to the PTHA Staff and everyone on the backside. He said it was the people here who really stood out to him. He highly respects anyone trying to make a living in the horseracing business as a trainer. The hours are long, and it’s a physically and mentally demanding job, but the love of horses made it worth it.
John saddled his last horse on April 11, 2022. It seems like a good time to enjoy the next part of his life, including spending time with his wife of 33 years, Eileen, and his grown children, daughter Ellen and son John, Jr., who are naturally all racing fans. Although you won’t see John on the rail this summer, he’ll be camping in northern New Hampshire, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors.