EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

August 24, 2007

High-stakes dreamer; Chester woman chases Kentucky Derby glory

CHESTER - Elaine Storlazzi considers herself a cross between Martin Luther King Jr. and Hillary Clinton.

Like King, she has a dream, and like her favorite presidential candidate, she wants to be the first woman to make it to the top of her game.

Storlazzi trains thoroughbred race horses and wants to be the first woman to win the Kentucky Derby. Every morning, Storlazzi makes the hourlong trip from her Chester home to Suffolk Downs in East Boston to train horses. After a 10-year hiatus, Storlazzi is looking to make a splash in the Northeast horse racing scene again.

"It was important to me to be a mother for a while, but now I'm back," she said.

Storlazzi, 50, gave up her passion for training horses for about 10 years so she could raise her son, Anthony. But now that her 18-year-old son is off to college this fall, Storlazzi said she is focusing her attention on training again and building a barn so she can win races.

Her first task on the road to winning in Kentucky is taking top honors in Saratoga, N.Y., this weekend at the 138th annual Travers Stakes race. Even though horse racing isn't as popular as it once was in New England, Storlazzi said the New York racing circuit is still one of the premier places in the country to race horses.

"I've never won in a New York race, but I've come close and I feel like my time is coming," Storlazzi said.

In her heyday, Storlazzi was a winner at Suffolk Downs and is looking forward to the upcoming MassCap race on Sept 22. The MassCap, which became famous with Seabiscuit's win in 1937, hasn't been run in three years, but will go off this year with a $500,000 purse.

But for Storlazzi, racing horses is more about the excitement than the money.

"Bringing animals to their top physical condition is so exciting," she said.

Training horses takes a careful eye and a lot of patience. Every horse is different, so she needs to know each animal's quirks.

After feeding the horses each morning, she spends several hours doing laps with each horse around the track. Some like to gallop, some like to jog and some don't like to leave the barn, so Storlazzi said she's constantly paying attention to a horse's every movement.

"The best medicine is your eye," she said. "If something hurts, they'll let you know."

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