Racing in California, Meet Trainers Abel and Elisabeth Borg

Abel and Elisabeth Borg with

When Abel and Elisabeth (Sissy) married in 1985 they each brought to the family three teenagers swelling the family ranks to eight. There were an equal number to sit around the dinner table, 3 girls and 3 boys, the youngest 12 the oldest 15 1/2. Further binding factors were that both parents were naturalized US citizens as Abel was born in the Netherlands, Sissy in Austria, and both loved their Arabian horses.

WMA Fantom

WMA Fantom

In order to make the entire adventure work for everyone, the family agreed to work together and Red Cloud Arabians was begun. Sissy was to be the primary for the horses with Abel’s support, and Abel was the primary with the Real Estate and Insurance business with Sissy’s support. Besides the farm, the girls were involved in shows and 4H, (which helped keep them as girls longer), and the boys helped provide labor for fence posts, and other stable chores.

Originally the Arabian program was primarily involved with Egyptian bred show horses which rewarded them with the World Champion Jr stallion at the Egyptian Event in Kentucky in 1987. After the girls all departed for college there were more than 20 show horses left on the farm. Abel was not too fond of the show business and during a moment of frustration asked Sissy: “What are we going to do with all these critters?” She said, “We could race them.”

Show Horses Into Race Horses

As Sissy and Abel were both very competitive and had been successful with their showing program, the sport of racing seemed a natural fit and Red Cloud Arabians became Red Cloud Farms. A business plan was written and a Mission Statement announced their new focus: “To prove that Beautiful Purebred Arabian Horses can also be Proven to be Effective Athletes”.

They began with trainer Rosie Hoffer (now Simkins) who still trains at Emerald Downs. She was very successful with the first of Borg’s racers, RC ARBELA, (Filly) that won the Maiden Championship of the Blue Mountain Circuit in Washington and Oregon as well as wins in Ferndale, California.

After the second year, Rosie encouraged Abel and Sissy to become their own trainers with her tutelage and encouragement. In those days, the closest training track was at Elma, Washington, about 45 miles from their home where they hauled the horses two/three times a week, studying the trainers tests with each other as they traveled to and from the track. The idea was to have Sissy become the licensed trainer, and Abel could be the groom, however on the appointed day for the exam with the stewards, Sissy told Abel to take the test. The results were positive and Abel first became a licensed trainer in 1992. Sissy has also been licensed as a trainer in several jurisdictions, but to keep things simple usually the team has Abel as trainer and Sissy as owner.

Of the scores of horses they have trained, all but a handful were born on the farm. The brood mare Theba foaled 6 winners, one of which was RCF Maidmyday winning 17 races over 53 starts and was on the board over 85% of the time, including a track record at Santa Rosa that lasted several years. They Borgs have raced their horses in four states and two Canadian provinces at over 25 separate race tracks.

The couple have raced some Thoroughbreds over the years, and even though the purses are significantly more, their love of the Arabian breed has always brought them back to the Arabians.

Training and all support has always been done by the two of them, Abel riding and Sissy supplying the coaching and paperwork, with gate training and shoeing often added into the mix. Abel started the horses and did all the galloping until just two years ago.

The two took on the challenges of racing with a passion for the breed as well as the sport, and are thankful that even to this day and advancing in years (Abel will be 78 in August) they are blessed with good health and their purpose to continue on to the races.

The Borgs had their first success of 2019 in California racing on 15 June winning the Maiden Stakes at Pleasanton with WMA Fantom (Sand Tiki Special x Fantoma V by Monarch AH). They are looking forward to a successful 2019 California season.

Alameda County Fair racing at Pleasanton runs until 7 July.
For more information about California Arabian racing and schedule of races:

(By Abel Borg with Pamela Burton)