Trainer Bios

Ian Wilkes

Born: May 25, 1965 in Muswellbrook, Australia

Record at Keeneland

Total Wins: 52

Stakes Wins: 1

Career Firsts

First Grade 1 Win: 2009 NetJets King’s Bishop at Saratoga with Capt. Candyman Can

First Stakes Win: 2006 Amsterdam (G2) at Saratoga with Court Folly

First Graded Stakes Win: 2006 Amsterdam (G2) at Saratoga with Court Folly

First Career Win: 2006

Starters in the Toyota Blue Grass




2017 McCraken 3rd
2015 Gorgeous Bird 6th


Court Folly


At Keeneland

Third at 2016 Fall Meet with nine wins.

Won first Keeneland race during the 2006 Spring Meet.

First Keeneland stakes win was the 2014 Buffalo Trace Franklin County, won by Free as a Bird.


Breeders’ Cup win: 2012 Classic with Fort Larned.

North American career earnings exceed $31 million with 573 wins through January 29, 2018.

2017 earnings were $4,408,642 with 58 wins, including the Sam F. Davis (G3) and Matt Winn (G3) with McCraken and the Fred W. Hooper (G3) and Alysheba Presented by Big Fish Casino (G2) with Bird Song.

2016 earnings were $3,399,505 with 69 wins, including the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) with McCraken, Mrs. Revere (G22) with Linda and River City (G3) with Thatcher Street.

2015 earnings were $3,289,869 with 58 wins, including the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs and Smarty Jones (G3) at Parx Racing with Island Town and the Greenwood Cup (G3) at Parx with Neck ‘n Neck.

2014 were $2,569,323 with 63 wins, including five stakes with Free As a Bird.

2013 earnings were $2,386,979 with 47 win, including the Stephen Foster (G1) with Fort Larned.



Ian grew up on a dairy farm in New South Wales in Australia and began working with racehorses as a groom and exercise rider at age 16. He worked in the stables of Paul Sutherland, Vic Thompson Jr. and Colin Hayes. During his two years with Hayes, he arranged through a mutual friend to come to the U.S. and work for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger.

After arriving in the U.S. in 1989, Ian galloped horses for 1 1/2 years. One of his regular mounts was Unbridled, who won the 1990 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) en route to earning an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old colt. Ian returned home for three years to train racehorses but rejoined Nafzger in 1993, serving as the stable’s top assistant until early 2006. Wilkes was Nafzger's key assistant when Street Sense won the 2007 Kentucky Derby after finishing second in the Toyota Blue Grass (G1). His wife, Tracey, was one of Street Sense's exercise riders.

As Nafzger retired, his horses were transferred to Wilkes.