John Stark Jr.
John Stark Jr. (O-T-D)
Birthplace: Buffalo, NY
John Stark Jr. came to the Saratoga Equine Sports Center in 1990 after having been the top dash-winning driver at Central New York's Vernon Downs from 1985-1988. His early years were spent learning the business at Buffalo and Batavia from his father, the late John Stark Sr.
In 1991 , John set the Saratoga track record for a 1 1/6 mile with Paula’s Big Guy (2:04.4). Highly regarded as a catch-driver, “Junior” scored his 2,000th career win in 1993 behind Winningwithdignity. In 1993, John reined three-year-old pacer Getting Personal to a then two-heat world record of 3:50.4 while capturing the Gaines Memorial at Vernon Downs.
In 1997, John was voted the District 8 USTA Driver of the Year. 1998 was a GIANT year for the Stark Stable as three of his trainees would achieve year-end honors. Teeth Of The Dog would be named the USHWA Two-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. Wallingford was named the USHWA Two-Year-Old Trotter of the Year, and Wedding Lights was named USHWA Filly-Mare Pacer of the Year. John and Wedding Lights were also the lucky pair on March 7th when they’d cross the wire first, thus recording the 4,000th two-minute mile in the history of Saratoga. John would easily capture the training title with 56 wins, 13 more than his next closest competitor. He’d also top the trainer standings with $169,329 in earnings .
In 1999, Teeth Of The Dog received honors as USHWA Pacer of the Year and Three-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. John trained and won with New York Sire Stake horses - 2yo filly trotter, Peekaboo Blue Chip (2:05.4); 3yo colt pacer, Sinner 2yo colt pacer (1:55.3); 3yo filly pacer Impressive Hare (1:58.1); 2yo filly pacer Jackie’s Whacky, and 2 divisions of the SESC pacing series with Perfect Scooter & Oranges.
The year 2000 found John taking Saratoga Chapter, USHWA’s Horseman of the Year Award. This was the first time in his stellar career, with 2000 being the best year ever for the popular, hard-working owner-trainer-driver. John was named trainer of the year - ‘95, ‘96, ‘98 and 2000. In 2001, John trained and drove the USHWA Horse of the Year, Bunny Lake, and eventually became part owner with Skip and Wendy Spring of Johnstown, NY. Bunny Lake, a $36,000 Harrisburg purchase, went on to win over $2.8 million in her illustrious career. Bunny Lake was nominated into the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame in 2008 and will be inducted June, 2009.
John trained and drove the trotter, Algier’s Hall, who held the trotting track record of 1:55.2 set Sept. 16, 2006, (broken by Prime Interest in 2008), and won Horse of the Year, 3-yr-old Trotter of the Year, NYSS Performer of the Year and Trotter of the Year. With that, John received Trainer of the Year and Horseman of the Year for 2006. In 2007, Stylish Guy was voted $7,500-$10,000 Claiming Pacer of the Year. John finished 8th in the driver standings and 3rd in the trainer standings for 2007. John won his 4,000th win at Buffalo Raceway with T Rex on June 21, 2009.
John trained the 2012 award winning 3-year-old Trotter of the Year, Catman Dude. He also trained the 2014 2-year-old Trotter of the Year, Kinda Naughty.
Married in 1996, John and wife Danielle have three daughters, one born in 2000, and twin girls born in 2005 .
| Year ||Starts ||1st ||2nd ||3rd ||UDR ||Purses |
| 2014 ||145 ||13 ||23 ||24 ||.233 ||$97,743 |
| 2013 ||145 ||12 ||18 ||17 ||.191 ||$105,810 |
| 2012 ||274 ||27 ||33 ||36 ||.209 ||$338,905 |
| 2011 ||322 ||38 ||46 ||37 ||.236 ||$456,466 |
| Year ||Starts ||1st ||2nd ||3rd ||UTR ||Purses |
| 2014 ||149 ||14 ||27 ||27 || .255 ||$106,110 |
| 2013 ||127 ||19 ||23 ||12 || .282 ||$123,145 |
| 2012 ||187 ||21 ||23 ||18 ||.213 ||$227,771 |
| 2011 ||323 ||40 ||51 ||42 ||.255 ||$474,726 |