By Mint Julep


Michael Matz Trainer: One Kentucky Derby Winner

barbaro 2006 kentucky derby winner

Michael Matz is a respected figure in both show jumping and horse racing. Starting out as a successful show jumping rider, he won multiple national championships before moving on to become a winning racehorse trainer. Some of his greatest achievements include triumphs like winning the 2006 Kentucky Derby with Barbaro and the 2012 Belmont Stakes with Union Rags. Matz’s bravery was also evident during the United Airlines Flight 232 crash when he saved four children, demonstrating his remarkable courage and compassion.

Early Life and Family Background

Michael R. Matz, a renowned figure in the world of horse racing and equestrian sports, comes from humble beginnings in Reading, Pennsylvania. Born on January 23, 1951, his journey to success began in the picturesque hills of his hometown before gaining international recognition.

Proudly American at heart, Michael Matz has strong ties to Coatesville, Pennsylvania. This is where he has chosen to settle down and call home—a place where his love for horses and unwavering commitment have led to impressive accomplishments over time.

Matz’s impact goes beyond just winning races or competitions; it surpasses mere achievements and awards. His unbreakable spirit shined brightest when he displayed heroism during the United Airlines Flight 232 incident in 1989—an act that not only left a mark on sports history but also touched hearts worldwide.

Michael Matz’s remarkable career embodies resilience, grace under pressure, and an unwavering dedication to excellence. From competing as a member of the Olympic equestrian team to claiming victories in prestigious events like the Kentucky Derby with Barbaro and Belmont Stakes with Union Rags—his talent knows no bounds.

Despite facing challenges along the way, Michael Matz remains a symbol of hope—a true example of how bravery combined with kindness can lead to great achievements both on and off the field. As we look back at his early life marked by determination and dreams coming true against all odds one thing becomes clear: Michael Matz is more than just a champion—he is an inspiration for future generations.

Equestrian Career

Michael Matz smoothly transitioned from the exciting world of show jumping to the prestigious realm of horse training, showcasing his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication. With an impressive record of six U.S. national championships, Matz proved himself as a dominant figure in the equestrian scene. Over two decades, he consistently triumphed, solidifying his reputation as a rider who could conquer any course with finesse and precision.

Not satisfied with just domestic success, Matz aimed for international glory and achieved it at the 1986 World Championships by winning team gold for the United States. This victory not only highlighted his individual skill but also emphasized his ability to collaborate effectively within a team—a trait that would later prove invaluable beyond the show ring.

Matz’s illustrious career extended beyond grand arenas and meticulously groomed jumps; he made a significant impact on the Pan American Games stage by earning multiple medals through several appearances. His adeptness at handling high-pressure situations with grace and poise shone brightly during these competitions, earning him admiration from fans worldwide and respect from fellow riders alike.

Retiring as America’s top money-winning rider was no small accomplishment for Matz—it was a testament to years of unwavering commitment, passion, and sheer talent. The legacy he established in show jumping continues to inspire aspiring equestrians seeking to mirror his blend of technical expertise and unshakeable determination.

As Michael Matz transitioned into Thoroughbred training—a new chapter after leaving behind an extraordinary one—spectators awaited eagerly what new heights this seasoned athlete-turned-trainer would achieve next without knowing that destiny had more awe-inspiring moments in store for this multifaceted horsemanship master.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. Motivate upcoming riders of tomorrow
  2. Attain outstanding achievements in the world of racing
  3. Establish a enduring heritage in the horse racing sector
  4. Act as inspirations for aspiring jockeys


  1. Feeling the need to uphold a perfect record
  2. Facing potential injuries because horse racing can be risky
  3. Dealing with continuous attention from the media and public
  4. Having little time for yourself or privacy due to busy schedules

Major Racing Wins

Michael Matz has a proven track record of winning major races, showing he’s an excellent trainer. His big win at the Kentucky Derby in 2006 with Barbaro was amazing and captured fans worldwide. Matz knows how to get his horses ready for top performance on the biggest stages.

After that success, Matz showed off his skills again at the Belmont Stakes in 2012 by guiding Union Rags to victory. This race pushes both horse and rider to their limits, making Matz’s win even more impressive. He really understands each horse he trains and it shows during these important races.

Not stopping after his great win in 2006, Michael Matz also won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff that same year with Round Pond. This highlights not only how versatile he is as a trainer but also how consistent he is at getting top results across different racing events. Winning at this level takes skill – you can see just how dedicated and knowledgeable Matz is every step of the way.

With many major wins under his belt, Michael Matz has made a lasting impact on horse racing. He’s known for developing champions who go on to glory, solidifying him as one of today’s most respected trainers in the sport. As he continues mentoring future stars and writing new chapters into racing history books, one thing remains clear: when it comes to training winners, Michael Matz stands out above all others.

Heroism on United Airlines Flight 232

In 1989, Michael Matz showed exceptional courage on United Airlines Flight 232, proving himself to be a true hero. Despite the chaos of the crash, he fearlessly helped four children to safety, demonstrating bravery that went beyond his accomplishments in horse racing. This act of selflessness made him a symbol of hope and compassion during one of aviation’s most challenging moments.

Matz acted quickly and decisively under pressure, saving lives with his calm demeanor and focus on aiding others. His rescue efforts for those young passengers showcased his remarkable character and quick thinking in the face of extreme circumstances.

The recognition Matz received after this traumatic event was well-deserved. Being named “Person of the Week” by ABC News not only highlighted his success as an equestrian athlete but also praised his humanity and courage during times of crisis. The world saw a different kind of champion emerge—one whose heart rivaled his achievements.

Through his display of extraordinary courage, Michael Matz became more than just an accomplished individual; he embodied resilience, kindness, and unwavering strength even in life-threatening situations. By saving those children on Flight 232, Matz revealed himself as not only a skilled horseman but also a genuine hero—a title earned through actions that spoke volumes without needing words.

Equestrian Extraordinaire: Michael Matz’s Profile

Full Name Nationality Discipline Born
Michael Ray Matz American Show jumping January 23, 1951 (age 73)

Show Jumping Hall of Fame Induction

In 2006, Michael Matz was honored with induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, celebrating his incredible career achievements. His talent and dedication to show jumping stood out brightly during his time as a rider, earning him admiration from peers and fans alike. From gracefully navigating challenging courses to winning prestigious titles, Matz left an unforgettable mark on the sport.

A true icon in equestrian sports, Michael Matz’s legacy went beyond mere competition wins. He was known for prioritizing the well-being of horses under his care and setting new standards for horsemanship that inspired future generations. Whether he was conquering difficult jumps or mentoring young talents in the sport, Matz embodied grace both inside and outside the arena.

The induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame cemented Michael Matz’s status among legends by recognizing not just his outstanding accomplishments but also his significant impact on shaping the future of show jumping. With every step taken alongside these majestic animals, Matz exemplified a spirit that surpassed mere athleticism – one characterized by compassion, bravery, and unwavering love for all things equine.

Training at Fair Hill Training Center

Since shifting to a full-time role as a racehorse trainer in 1998, Michael Matz has established himself as a respected figure at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. Known for his dedication and pursuit of excellence, Matz relies on this top-notch facility to hone both his own skills and those of the horses he trains. The amenities provided here are not only designed for elite professionals like Matz but also serve to enhance performance levels through advanced resources.

Matz’s presence at Fair Hill goes beyond symbolic; it reflects his deep understanding of equine athleticism and his talent for creating successful partnerships between horse and rider. Every training session is an opportunity for him to work magic on the well-maintained tracks, improving both the physical abilities of the horses and refining the skills of their jockeys. As hooves meet earth with purposeful strides, echoes resonate success stories that speak volumes about Matz’s unmatched expertise and intuitive approach.

Nestled within Maryland’s scenic landscape lies Fair Hill Training Center – a place where aspirations take flight under Michael Matz’s innovative guidance in racehorse training. His legacy transcends mere victories by exemplifying profound respect for these majestic animals while showcasing extraordinary bonds built on trust, mutual respect, and endless hours dedicated to perfecting their craft together. Amidst picturesque hills and lush pastures awaits an equestrian haven where destiny unfolds step by step – solidifying Michael Matz’s reputation as an icon revered by all who grace these prestigious grounds.

Legendary Tales Surrounding Michael Matz Trainer

  1. Legendary Stories About Michael Matz Trainer:
  2. Winning at the Olympics: Before he became a famous horse trainer, Michael Matz excelled as an equestrian rider. He scored a silver medal in show jumping at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, displaying his incredible talent and dedication to the sport.
  3. Barbaro’s Epic Win: One of Michael Matz’s most unforgettable moments as a trainer happened in 2006 when he led the impressive colt Barbaro to a remarkable victory in the Kentucky Derby. Barbaro’s outstanding performance fascinated audiences and established Matz as one of the best trainers around.
  4. Heroic Plane Crash Rescue: In 1989, during a tragic plane crash, Michael Matz showed immense bravery by rescuing numerous passengers, including children. His quick actions and courage under pressure earned him widespread praise beyond just horse racing circles.
  5. Triple Crown Connections: Over time, Michael Matz has worked with several horses that competed in prestigious Triple Crown races like Union Rags and Chelokee. With his expertise and strategic planning, he consistently puts his horses in contention for these high-stakes events.
  6. Caring for Horses’ Well-Being: Apart from achieving success on race tracks, Michael Matz is admired for prioritizing his horses’ health and happiness above all else throughout their training and racing careers.


1. How did Michael Matz transition from being a world-class show jumping rider to a highly successful racehorse trainer?

Michael Matz smoothly moved from being a top-notch show jumping rider to becoming a thriving racehorse trainer, demonstrating his outstanding horsemanship skills and strong commitment to excellence in both areas.

2. What are some of Michael Matz’s most notable achievements in the world of equestrian sports and horse racing?

Michael Matz has had an amazing career. He started out as an Olympic show jumping rider and won a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Later, he became a well-known racehorse trainer. One of his biggest achievements was training Barbaro to victory in the Kentucky Derby. Throughout his career, Michael showed heroism and compassion during the United Airlines Flight 232 tragedy.

3. Can you elaborate on Michael Matz’s heroic actions during the United Airlines Flight 232 incident and how it impacted his legacy beyond the racetrack?

During the United Airlines Flight 232 incident, Michael Matz showed true heroism by helping other passengers and children in danger. His brave and caring actions not only proved his courage and kindness but also established him as a real-life hero beyond his career in horse racing.

4. How has Michael Matz inspired future generations of riders and trainers through his exemplary career in both show jumping and horse racing?

Michael Matz has been a huge inspiration to many riders and trainers by excelling in both show jumping and horse racing. He showed incredible dedication, exceptional horsemanship, and extraordinary courage during the United Airlines Flight 232 incident. This solidified his reputation as a genuine hero within the equestrian community and beyond.

5. What qualities set Michael Matz apart as a remarkable figure in the equestrian community, earning him admiration and respect from fans and peers alike?

Michael Matz is widely respected in the equestrian world for his impressive talents, fair play, and fearless attitude in show jumping and horse racing. His brave actions during the United Airlines Flight 232 crisis have further established him as a hero in the community.

6. In what ways has Michael Matz’s diverse skill set and experiences shaped his approach to training horses for success in competitive arenas?

Michael Matz is a skilled rider and horse trainer who has been successful in show jumping and racing. His wide range of experiences have given him a special mix of accuracy, patience, and understanding that he uses in his training methods. This helps him deeply comprehend horse behavior and strive for excellence when getting horses ready to win in competitions.