Born: May 25, 1965 in Muswellbrook, Australia
Record at Keeneland
Total Wins: 81
Stakes Wins: 4
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
Co-leading trainer title during the 2020 Summer Meet when he sent out seven winners, equaling Wesley Ward. Wins included the Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select with Four Graces.
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.
Won the 2019 Ben Ali (G3) with Bourbon Resolution and Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3) with Gentle Ruler.
Breeders’ Cup win: 2012 Classic with Fort Larned.
North American career earnings exceed $49 million with 834 wins through May 30, 2022.
Click here for his Equibase career record.
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.