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Highlander Training Center

Bret Calhoun


Two-time Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer Bret Calhoun has saddled over 3,400 winners with total earnings of over $100 million. Here’s what he has to say about Highlander Training Center and its graduates:


“It’s state-of-the-art. . . . I’ve been working with that group of people for a while, and they always do a good job.


"The horses come to us in good condition. They’re sound, healthy and well-educated; they’re physically and mentally ready. And that’s exactly what we’re looking for on this end.”


Robertino Diodoro


The leading trainer by wins at the 2020 Oaklawn Park meet, Robertino Diodoro has won over 2,900 races and over $60 million in purse money during his career. He was also the nation’s third leading trainer by wins in both 2018 and 2019. 


“At Highlander Training Center, the team is just as impressive as the facilities. They are hands-on horsemen and their communication is first rate. Horses at Highlander are not just a number. The Highlander team gives each horse the individual attention they need, and then communicate clearly to us what we need to know to give each horse their best opportunity for success at the track. 


"And regarding the horses that come to us from Highlander, we couldn’t ask for them to look any better. It’s a professional operation in every way.”


Jeremiah Englehart


Jeremiah Englehart has saddled over 1,700 winners and earners of over $44 million. Based in New York, he has ranked in the top 20 nationally in wins for the past five years, and his accomplishments include winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies with Ria Antonia. 


“After visiting Highlander Training Center it was easy to figure out why I should send horses there.  First class facilities, with all the bells and whistles and a top notch staff.  Great communication with Jeff and his staff made it easy to follow where my horses were with their layup and training.  Larry and the team have cut no corners on the facilities.  Can't wait to see the development of the turf gallop and rehab facilities.  The first thing I said to Jeff is "my horses may never want to leave." Grade 1 care from every individual at the farm.”


Brendan Walsh


Brendan Walsh has more than 500 winners earning more than $35 million in purses. UAE Derby-winning trainer Brendan Walsh on Highlander Training Center and its graduates:

“They’re doing a fantastic job there; they do things right. Their horses are as good as horses can possibly be coming to the track.”

Mike Stidham photo.PNG

Mike Stidham


Mike Stidham has trained many top horses including Two Altazano, Synchrony, Tizaqueena, Upperline, Willcox Inn, Manzotti, Istanford, Zipessa and Her Emmynency to name just a few. His career record to date shows over 2,200 winners and earnings of over $77 million:


“Over the years of managing a large stable, we have received horses from numerous training centers across the country, from Florida to Kentucky, around the Midwest and along the East Coast. The best way to compare them is: ‘what is the condition of the horses when they arrive and is what I’m told by the training center accurate when it’s comes to the level of preparedness of the horses.’ Highlander Training Center gets extremely high marks in both of these categories. 


“Highlander does an exceptional job of preparing the horses and communicating clearly and directly about each individual horse. The horses from Highlander Training Center are really mentally and physically prepared to come to the racetrack and move forward with their racing careers. 


“Furthermore, their level of communication and transparency is as good as it gets.”

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Joe Sharp


Joe Sharp, trainer of earners of over $33 million with more than 740 winners including Grade I Haskell Invitational Stakes winner Girvin:

“Highlander training center does an exceptional job evaluating and preparing each horse as an individual, based on their needs. This is then communicated to the trainers when leaving which makes for a smooth transition to the racetrack.”


Lon Wiggins


Multiple stakes winning trainer Lon Wiggins who’s runners have earned nearly $5 million in purses has this to say about Highlander Training Center and its team:


“Highlander Training Center is owned and managed by great people who are well respected throughout the industry. They are determined to make this one of the best state-of-the-art facilities , not only in Texas, but in the country. I recommend to people all the time to go by and visit, you’ll be amazed what a top notch facility it is.

"... The exercise riders are good enough to work for any trainer, at any racetrack, but why go to a racetrack when you can work at a facility like this? The grooms take pride in their horses and are very personable when we stop by to see our horses.

“ I’ve been very pleased with the way the yearlings which we send to Highlander come back to us as two-year-olds. They are in good flesh and well-prepared mentally and physically for their transition to the racetrack. Highlander is a great place for your youngsters to get their education.”


Shannon Ritter

Trainer & Director Therapy Center

Ritter brings a wealth of industry experience and exceptional horsemanship skills to her role at Highlander. Her resume includes having served as the Rehabilitation Manager at prestigious WinStar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, as well as having been a successful Thoroughbred trainer on her own and an assistant trainer to Elliott Walden. Ritter also rode professionally as a jockey for eight years.


Ritter is respected throughout the country for her horsemanship skills and attention to detail. Fellow trainers hold her in high regard, and the fitness and conditioning of the horses she sends out from Highlander is respected by trainers at tracks throughout the country. 

We are proud to have Shannon at Highlander Training Center as a key member of our leadership team.



Jon Newbold

Trainer & General Manager

Jon Newbold joined Highlander Training Center at its founding, bringing with him 41 years of industry experience. As Trainer & Ranch Manager at Highlander Training Center, Jon is responsible for oversight of ranch operations as well as leading the breaking process for all young horses. Over the course of his life, Jon has worked under the tutelage of industry greats such as Larry & Dee Waggoner, Albert Grant, and Jack Harmon, learning to develop horses into stakes winners. He has also worked with such noted horsemen as Eddie Woods in Ocala, Florida and for Valor Farm in Texas. 


Cuco Mendez


Jose “Cuco” Mendez came to Highlander Training Center with 28 years of training experience. His passion for horses became a career when he began working as a rider for Bobby Barnett in 1993. Cuco rode for Barnett at New Orleans, Oaklawn, Louisiana Downs, and Lone Star Park. He was then offered the position of assistant trainer for Cary Carter, which he held for 18 years, until Mr. Carter retired. After Mr. Carter’s retirement, Cuco became the head trainer for Royce Roberts. 


Cuco is highly respected for his horsemanship skills, as well as his ability to identify top riders and grooms to be members of the HTC team. 

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