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Nick Giberson reflects on his 'Super' 2012
Thursday, January 24, 2013 - by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Rich Fisher
Trenton, NJ --- It had been a good year for Illinois trainer Nick Giberson.

It became a “super” year on Sept. 15.

That’s when Fancy Creek Elusiv won the $250,000 Orange and Blue Stakes for Illinois-bred 2-year-old male pacers at Balmoral Park.

“We loved winning the Orange and Blue because it’s at home and it’s a very tough race to win,” said Giberson, who was born in Jerseyville, Ill., and now lives in Spaulding. “It’s the Super Bowl for us, basically.”

Balmoral Park photo
Fancy Creek Elusiv (#3) wore down Fox Valley Action to win the Orange and Blue in 1:52.1.

And there’s nothing like getting together with friends during the Super Bowl. Fancy Creek Elusiv is owned by Hart Walker, Robyn Mullink, Homer Henke and Robert Walker. Hart trained the horse before sending him to Giberson for the year’s final five starts.

“I grew up with those (owners),” Giberson said. “That’s how I got into the business; my grandpa was in it with them. That meant a lot when Hart and Bob sent me the horse.

“Homer Henke used to go to my track meets and I grew up racing claimers for him. That meant a lot because he’d never had a horse like that and he’s been in the business for as long as I can remember. That means a little more because he’s a family friend and everything. All those guys are, so that meant a lot. It had a little sentimental value.”

Hart Walker sent the horse to Giberson after taking a position as a police officer in Jerseyville.

“He got him kind of where he wanted him and thought he could go to the next level and thought we could help him,” Giberson said. “He sent him up. I’ve done that a few times for him. This one just paid off big time.

“Hart said he had a lot of talent, he just needed to be fine-tuned a little bit. He was a little green, but he had speed. We trained him a couple times, changed a little rigging, and capitalized on it. It’s tough to win races anywhere, but especially to win the Orange and Blue means a lot.”

While that was the pinnacle of 2012 for Giberson, it was hardly the only highlight. Fancy Creek Elusiv won five of 11 races and $135,281 for the season.

USTA/Ken Weingartner photo
Nick Giberson’s stable earned a career-best $649,883 in purses in 2012.

Nick’s stable, with around 20 horses, won an $89,600 division of the Elevation Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers at Indiana Downs with Latest Desire, who went 3-for-3 during the year to earn $58,050. He had four Review Stakes winners at Springfield with Rollnlikeabigshot, Latest Desire, Stealin The Show and Happilyeverfaster.

For the year, Giberson’s stable earned a career-best $649,883 in purses. The 35-year-old Giberson has been training on his own since 2007, and couldn’t be happier with his decision.

“We love it,” he said. “It’s a little tougher at times, but we’ve had a lot of great owners over the years. Lee and Linda DeVisser have been great and started us out. I’ve got some for Jerry Silva this year (and) Stable 45, Our Horse Cents. I’ve got cream-of-the-crop owners, which helps.”

Giberson is the grandson of Jim Patterson, a factory worker who owned several horses that Nick would help train and jog.

“It was more of a hobby and fun,” said Nick, who grew up just outside of Springfield. “Once it gets in your blood it sticks with you. I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember.”

While in high school, Nick worked for Ken “Doc” Walker at Fox Valley Standardbreds to prep yearlings. From there he went into jogging and training, noting “that’s all I’ve ever done.”

After graduating, Giberson worked for Tex Moats for five years before going with Joe Seekman in Michigan. That was followed by a one-year stint under Erv Miller, all of which can’t help but provide an education. Nick’s wife, Amy Sronce-Giberson, also worked for Miller.

From there, Nick struck out on his own.

“I tried to learn a little bit from everybody, what to do and what not to do, and put it all together,” Giberson said. “No matter what, you’ve got to have good owners. And then you’ve still got to produce.”

And after a banner 2012, what does he hope to produce in 2013?

“I think we’ll have a good year,” Giberson said. “I’ve got some nice 2-year-olds training down that look promising.

“I’ve got some 3-year-olds that are training back and getting ready to qualify. Elusiv should come back. You’ve got to capitalize on the right nights and that’s what we look forward to. We’ll try (for a million-dollar year). If you don’t have the owners and the stock, you’re not going to get there.”

The Harbaugh brothers are saying the same thing these days as they prepare for that “other” Super Bowl.

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