Payton is also known as one of the industry’s most exclusive young horse development facilities, and a place where horses are accepted for training by invitation only.
JJ’s staff start and prepare the Starlight horses with training lessons that they will take with them to their respective race tracks. With more than 50 years of experience training horses, JJ is known for his instrumental role in selecting at auction, Breeder’s Cup winners, English Channel as well as More than Ready, a grade I winner who earned more than $1 million in his two seasons on the track.
He has launched the careers of numerous stakes winners, including champions Left Bank, Wait A While and English Channel, as well as graded stakes winners Balto Star, Jersey Girl, Marley Vale, More Than Ready, and Victory Ride to name a few.
Utilizing his multiple decades of experience as a horseman, JJ designed Payton’s five-furlong training track with the horse in mind: it has gentle turns created to minimize the impact on a young horse’s legs. His program starts with traditional ground driving, and then riding in confined spaces prior to track work. “We try to teach them to go out there, relax and not be afraid of anything,” he says.
JJ and his wife Joan currently reside in Ocala, Florida. He is also the father of Starlight’s internationally renowned and award winning trainer, Todd Pletcher.