Columbus, OH — James R. Gluhm, 77, a lifelong harness horse trainer, died recently after a lingering illness.
He was a native of Hamilton, Ohio, but lived in Trenton, Fla., for many years.
“The best horse I ever trained was JEFs Spice,” Mr. Gluhm said recently. The daughter of Super Bowl won $951,469 in 1985-86, winning 19 of her 33 starts with seven second-place finishes. She took her mark of 1:55.2 at The Red Mile and was later exported to Europe.
JEFs Spice won the Breeders Crown in 1986.
Mr. Gluhm and his stepdaughter Kim Miller were the first father-daughter to win Breeders Crowns. Miller trained the 2006 Breeders Crown winner Charley Barley by Western Hanover.
“I learned so much from him,” Kim says. “He wasn’t consciously teaching me. You had to watch what he did. I learned from that.”
Mr. Gluhm was a trainer who didn’t seek the limelight and his horsemanship was best appreciated by his peers in the training profession. For many years, he helped to develop youngers for the Sunbird Stable operated by Jack Landis of Florida. Mr. Gluhm would develop the youngsters and get them gaited, mannered, and trained down, then often send them north to be raced by other trainers.
Some of their most notable performers were the back-to-back 1983-84 Peter Haughton Memorial winners Why Not 4,1:56.4 ($823,108) and Another Miracle 3,1:57.1 ($906,314).
He was also involved in the purchase and preparation of Kentucky Futurity winner Jazz Cosmos 3,1:55 ($701,568) and the top star Nearly Perfect 4,1:54 ($630,327).
“Jim picked them out and got good value at the yearling sales,” says Miller. “He was willing to buy from the scratch-and-dent section of a yearling sale if he saw something he liked.”
Mr. Gluhm was also closely involved with the success of three horses in the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame: Anythings Possible, American Patriot and Basil.
Mr. Gluhm’s father was a veterinarian in Butler County in southwest Ohio and he worked on many Standardbreds in that area, including those raced by Howard Beissinger and his father.
Stepdaughter Kim says that Mr. Gluhm considered John Patterson, Eldon Harner, Bruce Nickells, and Ohioan Charlie King to be his mentors.
“He learned patience from them,” she says. “He believed in allowing a horse to find itself.”
“Just keep going with one,” Mr. Gluhm often told his stepdaughter. “But when you have to start making excuses for a horse, then you’re in trouble.”
Miller says that Mr. Gluhm didn’t put much faith in luck in racing.
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” was one of her stepfather’s favorite sayings, said Miller. “He said you simply had to watch and see what the horse was doing. He also didn’t believe a horse had to dance every dance; a trainer had to pick the right spots to race. He was always in full command of his barn.”
Mr. Gluhm felt that owners trusted him to provide the best care for their horses and Kim Miller said he was not happy when an owner once told him that he “wasn’t progressive enough about using veterinarians.”
The family asked that any donations in Mr. Gluhm’s memory be made to a local chapter of the America Legion.