1. When you are not working as an IP, what do you do?
I am fortunate enough to have cultivated several hobbies to make the transition to full time retirement smooth, including golf, snowboarding, scuba diving, and handicapping horse races. However, I would say that my greatest passion is racing horses as a partner in Zilla Racing Stables.
2. How did you come up with the idea of doing professional horseracing?
I grew up close to the Saratoga Racetrack in Saratoga, NY, which is one of the most prestigious racetracks in North America. My father, being a hardcore racing enthusiast, took me on many summer days to watch and bet on the races. Back then, if you were tall enough to reach the betting window, you were old enough to bet. Although I never really rode horses (attempted to learn once in my 20s but a broken wrist cured me of that urge), I have always loved horses and watching them train and play. They are just amazing creatures. Add to that the thrill of cashing a ticket, and I was hooked pretty quickly.
When I was in college, my father organized a group of his friends to purchase horses. I will never forget my first time going to Belmont Park to watch our first horse, Individual Lad, run. When he crossed the finish line in front, I literally could not control my excitement and I knew at that moment that I would own horses myself someday. That day came 30 years later when my father, after being out of racing ownership for the last 25 years, decided to organize another group of friends to get a few horses. Our group had six wins over about 18 months, including the father-son moment I will never forget when our horse Hot Splash romped home to a 9-length victory. At the time, we thought she would become a star (unfortunately, she did not) and it was quite a thrill to see a horse we picked out win in the way that she did.
3. What are the biggest challenges in horseracing? And why do you find this activity rewarding?
Unfortunately, racing thoroughbreds makes owning boats look cheap, and our group soon realized it was not practical to continue at the level we wanted given the cash we could collectively contribute. Fortunately, this was around the time that public racing syndicates became more prominent, and I became a part of one of the best ones out there, Zilla Racing Stables. Now, instead of buying 20% of a horse, I buy 3% of a horse. This makes the economics far more palatable, and I began buying horses with Zilla about 2 years ago. My Zilla posse has achieved 13 wins in 64 starts so far. This includes a thrilling victory won by a nose, resulting in a $200K prize in the Fleet Indian Stakes at my hometown track last August, with my very first Zilla purchase, English Soul. It was a lifelong dream come true and I was positively giddy for a month afterwards. I still get goosebumps watching the replay 6 months later and I am sure that I will never get tired of watching it.
4. How do you think this pastime will evolve for you in the future? Will it become a full-time venture for you?
While I would love to be a full-time thoroughbred horse owner, the reality is that I need to work as an IP to support this habit, so I do not see this becoming a full-time venture anytime soon. I currently have 11 horses and expect to add a few more to the posse after the upcoming spring sales, with a goal of keeping around 20 horses at a time by 2020. I typically have 5-10 races a month at present, and I do try to attend most of the races that are held locally though, I must say, that it can sometimes be a challenge managing the IP work and getting to all the races!