When he was younger, Scott Blackler, now 25, was given two choices in life: he could work at DePatsy lanes, his grandfather’s bowling alley; or he could train horses.

“I chose the horses,” Blacker said.

Blackler, from Waldoboro, works in Middletown, N.Y. and trains harness racing horses. With around 120 lifetime wins and almost $1 million dollars in purses, he seems happy with his selection.

This year, he has won 14 races with purses more than $175,000 dollars and currently trains 12 horses, including one of his own horses, a 5-year old pacer named Winbak Fox.

The decision to pursue training wasn’t against the family, either. Blackler started training horses with his grandfather, Nick DePatsy Jr., who did it as a hobby.

Blackler was inspired by DePatsy and got involved with racing when he was about 16.

“I kind of just liked working with the horses and being around them,” Blackler said. “I just liked the game, I guess.”

Although he admitted that it was difficult at first, Blacker said training came easy to him since he had been around horses since a child. When he got older, he started training horses around the Waldoboro and Friendship area.

Blackler said enjoys training more than racing because he is able to sit back and watch. He said, as a trainer, “you are with the horses 24-7. You are the one getting them ready for the drivers. So I guess in a way you are the one making sure of the horses and making sure everything goes right for the drivers to drive. I guess that’s just a bigger thrill for me.”

Blackler soon moved his stables up to Windsor, where he worked with his good friend and driver Jason Bartlett, who is now a renowned driver in the New York circuit. Blackler and Bartlett have known each other since they were teenagers and Bartlett raced for DePatsy.

In his time in Windsor, Blackler decided that he wanted to train as his career. In 2006, after two years of training professionally, he won the Maine Sire Stakes in the 2- and 3-year-old finals.

There, he saw the financial possibilities of a career in training “at that time it was the highest I had raced for and I happened to win both finals that year at 21 years old.” The purse was for $76,000 dollars.

Blackler then decided to follow Bartlett and move to New York in late 2006, where harness racing is a large industry, especially near Yonkers.

“I love Maine,” he said. “I love Maine harness racing; it was good to me [and] I learned a lot.” However, he continued, with the economy the way it is, racing in New York is a more lucrative career option.

Although he said harness racing is semi-professional in Maine, he thinks New York is more professional. “My grandfather did it as a hobby, a lot of guys [in Maine] do it as [a] hobby but down here it’s professional,” he said.

Moving was a big step for him. “It’s scary,” Blackler said. “You are taking a big leap.” He continued to say that moving form home to New York was like “jumping into the ocean.”

However, the move turned out to be fruitful and, in 2008, the pair teamed up and had Blackler’s most successful year to date. The two won 41 races and more than $332,175 in purses.

“I knew I could do it because my work ethic for one,” Blackler said. “I just went along with it, went with the flow. You know, good things happen.”

Now he plans to only get better. He would like six to seven wins per horse per year and hopes that this year he will have around 50 wins but he said, “my goal is every year to have a better year than the year before.”

When asked how he wants to succeed, he said, “hard work, good horses, good people that work for you, good grooms, and just staying on top of everything, don’t let anything slip. Once you let something slip, then you might as well just go home.”

VillageSoup Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to ffreudenberger @villagesoup.com.