Friday, July 20, 2012
The Neighboring Barstool
By Brendan O'Meara/@BrendanOMeara
Today’s the day. Saratoga Race Course opens with a spark, won’t say an explosion. It’s more like lighting the fuse: little sparkle, little flame, little cause to get all kinds of fired up. Opening Day always has the Schuylerville for juvenile fillies (ladies first). It’s almost always raining so we get to see a real crapshoot, and when was the last time any winner of the Schuylerville did anything?
Wouldn’t it be a better theme to have both the Sanford and Schyulerville on the same day? Let the kids play before the adults take over, I say. Saratoga is known for its two-year-old racing and what better way than to hit you on the backside with the wet-towel of two a Grade 2 and 3 on Opening Day. Leave the James Marvin and Coaching Club to the Saturday. Woe be me, I’m just a writer.
So, Mrs. Carryover and I were at Max London’s the other night enjoying Happy Hour (2-for-1 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.). And, if you must know, I had an exquisite Pinot Noir, and to take the air of pretension away from this sentence all I’ll say is it was freakin’ awesome.
I was telling Mrs. Carryover about the races today and tomorrow and a fellow next to me pounced into our conversation asking if we lived in town (yes) and if were involved in horses (no, not really). Sidebar: He hit on the bartender hard—half his age, mind you— asking her, “Do you go out at all?”
“No, I don’t go out,” she said.
Hmmm, a 21-year-old girl with lacquered-on jeans saying, ‘I don’t go out.’ She needs more tact, but it was funny for folks like me. So, this guy has some skin in the game, 14 partnerships, horses in New Mexico, horses with Todd Pletcher, and other trainers whose name “he can’t remember.”
He was engaged in a conversation with a married couple before we sat down and asked us if we overheard his conversation about how much he sold his private equity firm for. He was the type of guy who tried too hard to be the “blue collar millionaire”. I’m sure, on some level, he is. Homeboy grew up on a dairy farm. He may even harbor some guilt for his riches. I don’t know. But he lay it on thick that he was a different kind of wealthy guy.
His first mistake was getting into horse ownership to make some money. Sorry, but when you take Carryover 101, Lesson 1 is: don’t get into horse racing if you want to make some coin. Grace lands on the few—very few. Mike Repole buys in and has Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty and Caixa Electonrica, among other great claims. There’s the Coca-Cola buyout and Pirate Booty food products. What he touches turns into the most delicious, succulent gold.
But our acquaintance lamented how Pletcher called him often, leaning on him for more dough. Our friend wasn’t too impressed. “You get fast horses, you exercise them, they run.” I said trainers love your checkbook and he nodded big.
All-in-all, getting into the ownership game should be a fun hobby where the understanding is that the $3,000 you spend per month per horse goes in one horse’s end and out the other. They are incredible critters and if they make you some coin, consider yourself lucky.
But it’s that time of year and shmoes like me enjoying a cheap happy hour may be sitting next to a 1-percenter and when we talk about the ponies I might just be as rich as you.
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