Legend Spotlight: Cooney Racing Stable

The following appeared in “Legends Spotlight” section of Equinews Nutrition & Health Daily

Pat and Susan Cooney, owners of Cooney Racing Stables in Boyce, Virginia, are a proud part of the Legends® family. Pat Cooney immigrated to the United States from Ireland in the 198os to further his career as a steeplechase jockey. Susan Cooney, originally from northern Illinois, rode show hunters throughout high school. After graduating from University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in animal science, Susan earned a master’s in breeding farm management from Texas A&M University.

Susan Cooney’s Fionnbharr scored her first lifetime win June 24, 2019 at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

After Pat and Susan married, Pat was offered a contract to ride for two top steeplechase trainers in Middleburg, Virginia, while Susan worked as a trainer at Whitewood Stables. After three years, the Whitewood operation closed, and Susan and Pat decided it was time to create Cooney Racing Stables. The business started with mostly steeplechase horses until Pat’s retirement from racing. Now, their focus is exclusively on flat racing, concentrating on preparing turf and dirt horses to race. Twenty-five years later, their training stable has grown from a half dozen horses to 38 horses belonging to multiple clients. Five broodmares and their foals live at Blue Ridge Farm in Upperville, Virginia.

Susan and Pat Cooney with their labs.

In Too Deep was the first “really good” horse Pat and Susan owned, and they purchased her for a dollar. She went on to win six races, earning over $120,000. When In Too Deep retired from racing, she served as the start of the Cooney breeding program. Now Pat and Susan keep all of the best racing fillies for breeding. Susan looks for pedigree, conformation, and temperament equally when evaluating young prospects. She seems to have a good sense for it, as several notable winners have been bred at their farm, including Embarr, Carolina Shag, Made Bail, Cluain Meala, Godlovesasinner, and Petticoatsnpistols, to name a few.

Embarr, out of In Too Deep, won nine races, netting earnings of over $350,000. Susan describes Embarr as her “heart horse,” providing many thrilling race moments. Embarr won the Brookmeade Stakes for the first time (of three total wins) in only her second lifetime start. She was in last place turning for home when she came flying up the lane blowing by everyone, giving the Cooneys their first home-bred stakes winner. Susan says, “There is nothing more thrilling than to win a race with a horse you have bred and raised.”

Embarr is now an accomplished broodmare. Her first foal, Fionnbharr, placed in stakes races in 2019, and has a hopeful future. Embarr’s yearling colt by English Channel also shows promise.

Thanks to Legends® quality feed, Susan considers nutrition the easiest part of her job, saying, “I know the horses are getting a balanced diet made from the best ingredients. All I have to do is monitor their condition and regulate the amounts they are fed.” Susan feeds primarily Legends® Sport Horse Plus, but also feeds Legends® CarbCare® Performance to fillies that require a low-NSC feed. In Too Deep, now 20, thrives on Legends® CarbCare® Senior.

Susan Cooney was named 2018 Virginia-Bred Trainer of the Year. Her horses won 16 times and earned $492,265 in purse winnings.

While the horse business consumes most of their time, Susan also finds time to breed and raise Labrador Retrievers through her business, Ardleckna Labradors, and is an amateur photographer.

Susan and Pat are proud of their team, consisting of their eight employees, clients, veterinarians, and farriers, all necessary to the success of their business. Susan says, “Winning races is what it is all about. It gives everyone on our team a thrill when one of our ‘kids’ does well.”