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Grade 1-Winning Trainer Nicks Retires

Nicks has saddled 722 winners, including 2017 champion juvenile filly Caledonia Road.

Trainer Ralph Nicks

Trainer Ralph Nicks

Gulfstream Park Photo

Trainer Ralph Nicks announced that he will call it a career April 14 after saddling a horse for the final time at Gulfstream Park.

"It's time," Nicks said. "I've been here a long time. It's just the way the business is going, with clients passing away. I've had a lot of years invested. I want to get away and do some things before I get too old and can't."

The 57-year-old Avery, Texas, native has saddled 722 winners, including Caledonia Road, the winner of the 2017 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar who was subsequently honored with the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly, and Aubby K, a multiple graded stakes winner who captured the 2013 Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs.

"I've had a pretty good career. I don't know what the numbers are, but I've trained a champion and nine (Florida Sire Stakes) winners, as well as several other stakes winners," he said. "I've had a good run, and maybe it's time for a new chapter."   

 Nicks is looking forward to hitting the road.

"I'm going to take some time and do some traveling around the United States," said Nicks, who has one entry on the April 13 program and three on Sunday's card at Gulfstream.

Nicks learned the training craft from his father Morris Nicks before eventually becoming an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. During his tenure, Cigar was the king of the Mott barn while winning 16 straight races, including victories in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and the 1996 Dubai World Cup (G1), as well as back-to-back Horse of the Year titles.

"That's one of those things that you have to pinch yourself and say, 'Am I living in a dream world?'" Nicks said. "You'd have to rate him as one of the greatest horses of all time, but there were other very special horses there during that run, like Paradise Creek, Ajina, Escena, Boundary—I could go down a huge list of horses that we've gotten our hands on or got to throw a leg across."

Nicks, who trained in Kentucky and New York before settling in South Florida 10 years ago, hasn't ruled out a future return to the racing industry in some capacity.

"If I had to make an immediate decision, I might want to get into some consulting, buying yearlings, and things like that at some point, but as of right now, I'm going to clear the head and enjoy life a little bit before I can't," Nicks said. "I'm going to reboot the mind and see where it takes me."

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.