Louisville, KY (WAFB) - The work of a horse trainer never stops.
"I wake up at 4 am. I'm at the track no later than 4:45 a.m," trainer Tom Amoss said. "Think of it like any athlete ready to go into a competition."
Amoss was born in New Orleans and fell in love with horse racing as a young boy. He began his career in high school as a stable hand for Hall of Fame trainer, Jack van Berg. He earned his trainer's license in 1987.
Amoss, of Tom Amoss Racing Stable, has been training horses for greatness for the past 30 years, all in the hopes of making it to the most important race in the horse industry, the 144th Kentucky Derby.
"You just don't compete you have to practice a lot and get very good at what you do, and the same is true for horses," he said.
For Lone sailor, the win that secured his spot in the derby came the day after Tom Benson's funeral when he placed second in the Louisiana Derby. Lone sailor is named after Benson, former owner of the Saints, who won the Lone Sailor Award from the Navy in 2007.
"It was a very small way to give back and to thank him for all the things that he's done for me personally, as well as for the city of New Orleans," Amoss said.
While Amoss has been to the derby 6 times, Lone Sailor was a newbie. And preparing the thoroughbred for 'Americas Greatest Race' takes a trainer fluent in their language.
"The more you're around it, the more you learn and understand the language they speak," Amoss explained. "They talk with their ears, they talk with their movements. But you'll never quit learning. It's a language that has so many little intricate parts to it. New things pop up all the time. A good trainer listens to his horses."
Amoss said Lone Sailor ran a good race, at one point reaching 4th place down the stretch before ultimately finishing in 8th. No small feat when thousands a year only hope to make it to the 'Run for the Roses.'
"Put that in perspective," he said. "There over 30,000 babies born every year. Thoroughbreds that are hoping in their 3-year-old year to make the Kentucky Derby. So, the odds are defiantly stacked against you."
"Think of getting to the Kentucky Derby a lot like getting to the NCAA basketball tournament as a college team," he said. "With 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby, the rule of thumb is, separate the top 10 from the bottom 10. The top 10 are contenders, the bottom 10 are the pretenders."
The LSU graduate said each appearance at the derby brings with it different emotions and for anyone hoping to reach that height one day, he said to keep pushing.
"As long as it's something you love and something you want to do, you can get there."
Amoss has seen more than 3,500 victories in his career, with close to $1 million in earnings. Amoss has nine lead trainer titles and 25 major stakes victories. He was inducted into the Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame in 1998.