Trainer Rylee Grudzien was bound to be involved in horse racing. Looking at her family influences, her dad Jason Grudzien was a horse trainer from 1992 - 2019, and trained in Boston and New York before closing out his career in Louisiana. In his career, his horses made 501 starts, and he won 63 of them with career earnings of $635,393.
Rylee's mother, Renee Grudzien, happens to be a veterinarian. She worked at the track (as a backstretch vet) tending to our equine athletes. She now owns her own vet practice with Jason in Lake Charles, LA.
Rylee moved from Connecticut to Louisiana at 7 years old. She grew up at the racetrack and would later get her trainer's license at age 18, and began a 5 horse operation. The first race Rylee was listed as a trainer came on November 7th, 2018 at Delta Downs, with a horse named POOPSIE DOOPSIE. The horse ended up winning at odds of 5 to 1.
Rylee's next start came almost 2 weeks later, November 20th, again at Delta Downs, but this time with a horse named DARYLSLITTLEENGINE, who won at odds of 4 to 1. Talk about a fantastic career start.
Fast forward to today. This past Saturday, July 3rd, 2021, Rylee took it to the next level. In only her second ever stakes race, she won the John Henry Stakes at Evangeline Downs. The horse PEACOCK KITTEN was 5 to 1 and the 4th favorite in a 9 horse field. He started out in the back and closed for an easy 2 length victory.
This gave Rylee, who is just 20 years old, her first career stakes victory. As with her first two career victories, and some other victories in between, Devin Magnon was the jockey, who is also her current boyfriend and longtime family friend.
I asked Rylee how it feels to win a stakes race. She said, "It feels great to get my first stakes win. Obviously a win like that is wonderful under just about any circumstances, but being able to do it with a horse that my family owns a piece of makes it much more meaningful. Not to mention the fact that Devin was riding him. Watching him overcome so much since his spill and come back to win a stake race his first week back of riding is really special."
Rylee had mentioned to me it's a family operation. She elaborated further:
"By family operation I mean we all work together. My dad has a lot of experience in the industry, though he does not train anymore, he owns quite a few horses on his own and within a partnership. He's someone who I can always go to for advice. When there are times I have to travel or I can't be at the barn, he's the first person that I call because he's just as hands on as I am."
"My mom does all my vet work. She owns her own vet practice with my dad, and she's had years of experience as a backstretch and track vet. Devin Magnon, who is basically part of the family, gets on my horses every morning to give me input from on top of their backs. All of them help me as a trainer get my horses where they need to be physically as well as mentally at times. Having their support makes my job a lot easier."
Rylee Grudzien now has over 30 horses in training. In her young career, as of July 9th, 2021, Rylee has had 319 starts winning at 16% and finishing in the top 3 in 44% of those races with career earnings of $743,682. At just 20 years old, you will be hearing a lot more from Rylee Grudzien, who has a bright future ahead of her.