Marvin Johnson Racing Stable


Christy and Marvin JohnsonThe Johnsons, a husband and wife team, who truly enjoy being part of the thoroughbred industry. They are Nebraska and Indiana thoroughbred breeders, owners, and trainers.

Marvin and Christy Johnson are the owners of Marvin Johnson Racing Stable. They are the proud parents of four adult children; Ashley, Casey, Taylor and Ty. They also have seven grandchildren.

This year their stable will be racing at Fonner Park and Indiana Grand.

Marvin followed his father and grandfather into the thoroughbred racing industry. Marvin has spent most of life on the race track either as a trainer, groom, exercise rider, or a gate crew member. 2018 marks Marvin’s 44th year of training in Nebraska.

Marvin has been a licensed trainer since 1974. He started his training career with horses owned by Joe and Emma Fonner-Corey, owners of OK Farms. Marvin, an O’Neil, Nebraska native, won his first race as a trainer in 1974 with Airi de Coup. Marvin recorded his first stakes victory in 1975 at Fonner Park with Mount Air in the Juvenile Stakes.

In 1999, Marvin and Christy won the TOBA Award as outstanding thoroughbred breeders in Nebraska. In 2007, the Johnsons were selected as the Breeder of the Year by the Nebraska Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association. In 2009, Marvin was inducted into the Nebraska Horse Racing Hall of Fame as a trainer.

Marvin has numerous leading trainer titles to his credit in Nebraska including Ak-Sar-Ben leading trainer in ‘93 and eight leading trainer titles at Fonner Park.

One of Marvin’s proudest training moments came in 2006 when Al’s Dearly Bred, who he claimed for $16,000, won the $100,000 Emerald Claiming Crown at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. He stated that one of his most satisfying victories was winning with Gene at Fonner in the 2000 Ogataul Stakes, a race named after one of the most notable horses Marvin has trained. Ogataul is number 12 on the all-time Nebraska Top Money Earners list with earnings exceeding $290,000.

During his training career, horses trained by Marvin have reached the Winner’s Circle more than 1,900 times and have earnings exceeding 14 million dollars.

Marvin’s career training record.

Career Starts    1st    2nd    3rd   Win % %1st,2nd or 3rd     Earnings
   12,654 1,943 1,739 1,523  15.36%        41.20%   $14,370,712

(Stats provided by Equibase Company LLC)

Marvin from 2013 to 2017 has been ranked in top thirteen percent of the licensed trainers in North America. Marvin in 2014 held a ranking of 233 on the top trainers list out of 6,264 licensed trainers in North America.

The Marvin Johnson Racing Stable has a remarkable record from 2013 to 2017.

Starters   Starts Avg. Starts/Starter 1st 2nd 3rd Win% % 1st, 2nd or 3rd
   270  1,338            4.95 228 178 156 17.71 %        42.70%

The Marvin Johnson Racing Stable had a successful 2017 racing season. They won 16 races at Fonner Park and 26 races, including two stake races, at Indiana Grand.

The Johnsons will start their 2018 racing season at Fonner Park. Fonner Park’s 31-day racing season starts February 23 and runs through May 5.  They will finish their 2018 racing season at Indiana Grand.  Indiana Grand racing dates are from April 17 through November 7.

The Johnsons own most of the horses in their 2018 thirty horse stable. Their stable has no million-dollar yearling purchases. Their stable is full of “blue collar” thoroughbreds.   The Marvin Johnson Racing Stable is like most stables in age and class diversities. They return this year with two stakes winners from 2017: Ron and Paisley. Paisley is a full sister to Bisque, who won the $85,000 added Indiana Futurity for the Johnson Stable in 2013.

Paisley winning the $100,000 Indiana Stallion Stakes Filly Division on Wednesday. Oct. 4, 2017 (Photo by Linscott Photography)
Ron winning the $100,000 Sagamore Sired Stakes on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 (Photo by Linscott Photography)

The Marvin Johnson Racing Stable has several two-year-old and three-year-old maidens that Marvin feels confident will find the Winner’s Circle in 2018. The Johnson’s juveniles will start training in May with the goal of starting their racing careers in August or September.  Marvin stated that the extra time allows his juveniles to be more physically and mentally developed.

TRA™ traveled to Fonner Park to visit with the Johnsons to gain in-sight on their winter preparations for a successful 2018 racing season. The Johnsons felt that have maintain or even exceeded their winter conditioning schedule. They have been able to gallop their horses at least four times a week this year, which is an increase in the number of days from previous years. Marvin felt confident that a majority of their stable will be ready on opening day at Fonner, if weather conditions continue to cooperate.

The Johnsons work together as if they were one. Christy, a Grand Island native, has been working with Marvin since 1979. Christy has many roles within the Johnson Stable. She maintains stable records that include, but not limited to, vaccination dates, shoeing information, daily training and stable payroll. Christy is also a licensed trainer. She maintains their stable at Fonner Park and their Nebraska farm after Marvin moves part of the their stable to Indiana Grand in April. Christy, after the completion of the Fonner Park season, will move their remaining Fonner stable to Indiana Grand to join Marvin.

The Johnsons are “hands on trainers”. They mix the feed, verify each horse’s eating habits, clean stalls, watch each horse gallop, check on health of each horse and more. Their horses looked great and it was obvious that their horses have great year around care. They have first-hand knowledge of everything that occurs within their stable. They are always the first ones to arrive at their barn and the last ones to leave.

The Marvin Johnson Racing Stable was busy Sunday morning and afternoon with galloping over 20 horses, finding hot walkers and exercise riders, plus maintaining stable sanity. The following photographs provide an indication of the training conditions the Johnsons dealt with periodically during their winter preparations for the 2018 racing season.

The Johnsons have a farm, only a few miles from Indiana Grand, in Shelbyville, Indiana, where they stay during the Indiana racing season. They return to their farm in Grand Island after the completion of the Indiana Grand season. Their Grand Island farm has been their primary location for more than 30 years. This farm is where Christy and Marvin raised their four children and now where they are making memories with their seven grandchildren.

The Johnson’s farm is more than just a home nestled on 20 acres. Their farm also has breeding and recovery facilities, as well barns to house their thoroughbreds and other animals. They currently have 10 broodmares and 8 yearlings at their Grand Island farm.  This year they will add six weanlings to their stable.

The Johnson’s thoroughbred operation is a 365/24/7 commitment for both Marvin and Christy.

I left Fonner Park with a greater appreciation for the Johnsons, who are fully devoted to their family and stable.  We will provide you with updates during the racing season on the 2018 success of the Marvin Johnson Racing Stable.

TRA™ wants to thank both Marvin and Christy Johnson for sharing their Saturday and Sunday with us.


Marvin won the Ogataul Stakes at Fonner Park on March 10, 2018 with Be My Shadow, a Nebraska breed by Shadow Hawk out of Shesaluckyflag by Lucky Lionel, by 3 ¼ lengths. The winner’s share of the purse was $12,450.  Marvin has won numerous stake races, including the Ogatual Stakes, over his training career but winning the Ogataul Stakes has always been the one he truly enjoys winning. Marvin claimed Be My Shadow for Seven Arms Stable on February 26,2018 for Ten Thousand Dollars. Wining the Ogataul pushed Be My Shadow’s career earnings to $93,109.

Be My Shadow winning the 2018 Ogataul Stakes on March 10

Be My Shadow followed his Ogataul Stakes win by winning the Budweiser – Tondi Stakes on March 24 by 1 /2 length.  Since being claimed, Be My Shadow has recorded back- to- back stakes victories for Marvin at Fonner Park. The winner’s share of the purse was $19,500. Be My Shadow now has career earnings of $112,609.

Be My Shadow winning the Budweiser – Tondi on March 24

The Marvin Johnson Racing Stable started their 2018 racing season in full stride. Marvin, as of March 25, has started 21 horses at Fonner Park. The Johnson stable recorded 5 wins, 4 places, (second), and 2 shows, (third) and has meet earnings of $56,142. Marvin trained horses have been on the board 52% of the time, which is higher than his life time average of 42%. The 2018 Marvin Johnson Racing Stable is on track for another successful racing season.

Update as of August 14th:

The Marvin Johnson Racing Stable continues its winning ways at Indiana Grand.  Marvin trainees have found the winner’s circle 26 times at Indiana Grand. He is the third leading trainer at Indiana Grand. Marvin and Christy are the leading owners at Indiana Grand with 17 wins. Marvin trains three of the top ten horses, for number of wins, at the meet. He trains Midwest Justice, who is the top winning horse at the meet with 4 wins. For the year, Marvin has started 171 horses and has 36 wins, 20 seconds and 24 thirds. Marvin trained horses have been on the board 44% of the time, which is a little above his life time average of 42%.

Marvin, as a trainer, is only 21 wins from breaking the 2,000 win mark. Indiana Grand’s last scheduled race date for 2018 is November 7th. Marvin has been on a winning streak since June with numerous days of multiple wins. His most recent multiple win day was August 7th. Marvin should, with continued racing success, become a trainer with 2,000 wins during the 2018 Indiana Grand meet.

This is a picture of  S S Trooper ,one of Marvin’s Indiana bred two-year-old making his debut at Indiana Grand.

Bizerk Wins the A. J. Foyt Stakes at Indiana Grand

A. J. Foyt Stakes. For three-year-old and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Purse $100,000.


Bizerk is owned by Marvin A. Johnson LLC and trained by Marv Johnson. Bizerk pressed the pace between horses and was able to take the lead down the stretch. Bizerk won by 1 1/4 lengths over Rebel Bull. Winning the A. J. Foyt Stakes was Bizerk third 2018 win at Indiana Grand.

$2 Wager Paid:

Horse Win Place Show
Bizerk $8.60 $4.80 $3.00
Rebel Bull $12.20 $8.80
Retrospection $3.40

Mystery Unbridle, the betting favorite , ran fourth.

Time 1:43.88 on yielding turf.


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