Inside Track: Don MacRae

  • 563 career wins ​
  • 10 career stakes wins ​
  • Top horses include Acting Naughty, Bent Attorney, Civil Code, Avoman, Puntrooskie, Marcian, Piper’s Legacy, Sailor’s Thought
  • Won 23 races in 2022, the most victories MacRae posted since he recorded the same number in 2011. His $695,960 (US) in purse earnings last year was MacRae’s highest total since 2010. Light the Lamp, Blazing Sky, Big Bad Luzziann, and Solar all won multiple races in 2022

The 2022 campaign

“It was just a solid year throughout. I think we spotted horses properly. Losing Avoman [through a claim] in the spring hurt, but seeing him win the Steady Growth Stakes, I was happy for [trainer] John Charalambous. We did develop a nice horse in Avoman, so it was good to see him do well. Other than that, I thought we had a bang-up year. One of my partners called me up and said we need to get aggressive in claiming horses, and once we did that, it lit a fire under us and we were able to have success.”

Thoroughbred racehorse Light the Lamp, trained by MacRae, and jockey Luis Contreras.

MacRae trainee Light the Lamp and jockey Luis Contreras winning on the Woodbine Tapeta on December 3. (Michael Burns Photo)

The more, the merrier

“It was a good feeling, having multiple horses win multiple races. When you look up and down your barn, you want to get at least one win for most of the horses you have in those stalls. We had a pretty successful year with that. I think we claimed 12 horses and 11 of them came back to win a race. Some of them were on the rise, some of them were on the drop, but it was a good feeling to see them do well.”

The moment?

“You never really know when it is going to be a good year. You can start off strong and tail off, or vice-versa. The one thing you strive for is consistency. And no matter how hard you work, you need to have luck on your side. I think when you’re going bad, you don’t switch too many things up. You keep doing what you trust in, and things will eventually come around. If you stay aggressive, you can be successful. When you’re running scared, it’s when you start losing.”


“My one partner, Michael Lay, he has some goals for us every year, which are nice to work towards. I don’t really set particular personal goals for the barn each year. But about three quarters of the way through last year, we were coming alive, and the push was to stay in the top 10 of the standings, and get 23 wins at Woodbine, which would be the most I’ve ever had at Woodbine. And we were able to do that. It’s something the whole team should be proud of, and it really does take an entire team to achieve success.”

Finish line

“My number one thing, my outlet, has been hockey. During the summer time, I don’t play as much, but during the winter I play a lot. But these days, regardless of how the day goes at the racetrack, win or lose, when I get home and see my wife and daughter, the stress goes away immediately. We bought a new house and I’m very grateful we were able to do that. A lot of the time, we don’t take a moment to be thankful for what we have. As I get older, I’m learning to appreciate those things a lot more.”