Racehorse owner Jeffrey Strauss is one of the good guys. Really. The chef/owner of Del Mar restaurant Pamplemousse Grille, Strauss was awarded the Nice Guy of the Year award in 2008.
“Katey Barrett gives us light and motion, the hot fuels of life, and wraps them in a package of inscrutable beauty, the horse. She takes us riding, faster than we’d like, as her Thoroughbreds careen around racetrack curves or launch themselves into the air, clearing mean fences…”
Zenyatta and Giacomo have thrust Jerry and Ann Moss into the national spotlight. But the couple’s involvement as Thoroughbred owners goes far beyond the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Kentucky Derby winners.
As 2009 comes to a close and the new decade begins, the horse racing industry in California has completed an admittedly tumultuous period in its history and stands at a crossroads.
The scene was idyllic… reminiscent of a bygone era of California Thoroughbred farms, as Jon and Sarah Kelly graciously welcomed Owners’ Circle to their home at Tres Palomas Farm in Rancho Santa Fe for an interview.
High on Horse Ownership: Julie Berta (Spring 2009)
Julie Berta has been a Thoroughbred owner for eight years, yet she has already experienced some of the most incredible highs possible, as the owner of a Grade 1 stakes winner who has run in major races across the country and as far away as Dubai.
Connors: Western Style (Winter 2009)
Northern California owner Mike Connors' experience in racing has, well, really run the gamut. His first racehorse was a Harness horse, but he eventually moved to Thoroughbreds, where he began by claiming horses in partnership, then claiming on his own before eventually moving on to purchasing "better quality" horses at auction, in partnership.
Hook, Line and Sinker: Jim Rome's "Take on Horse Racing (Fall 2008)
For those of you familiar with the man, "grab a vine!" For those of you not, you'll need to spend some time reviewing the "glossary."
A Del Mar Jewel: Ted Aroney and Jenny & Sid Craig (Summer 2008)
What started out as an interview with longtime California thoroughbred owner Ted Aroney, turned into something quite unexpected.
Weekends at the Track: Dick Van Patten (Spring 2008)
Just about any weekend that there’s racing at Santa Anita or Hollywood Park, you can find actor Dick Van Patten in the turf club with his long-time buddy,Mel Brooks.
Luck o'the Irish: Ted and Danny O'Neill (Winter 2008)
On a crisp and clear December morning, the O’Neills – Ted and Noreen, and Ted’s younger brother Danny – were out at Golden Gate Fields checking on their horses, in O.J. Jaregui’s and Steve Specht’s barns. The three petted and fed peppermints to their favorites, and found some time to walk a horse or two out into the bright sunshine.
Lloyd Dix, founder and managing partner of a very unique racing partnership – WGAS-10 – was out with his family at Del Mar recently to watch Excess Temptations run. "E.T.," as they call him, is one of seven horses in which WGAS-10 owns a fractional interest.
Earlier this year, Scott and Billy Ray formed a partnership to introduce 27 leading California business people and celebrities to horseracing as horse owners during this summer’s Del Mar meet.
Most racing fans will admit they were introduced to racing at a young age. Perhaps it was a favorite uncle who took them to the track, or a parent who loved the sport, or even a buddy who enlisted them as an accomplice for a clandestine trip to the racetrack.
Trudy McCaffery, a former TOC director, died February 12 after a lengthy battle with cancer. She leaves behind a legacy of caring and tireless advocacy for all segments of the Thoroughbred industry – animals and people alike – that will remain an inspiration for years to come.
Pablo Suarez, a relative newcomer to racehorse ownership, recently partnered up with his longtime mentor and leading California owner, Bob Bone, and Desperado Stables, to purchase Argentinisima (Arg).
For Dolan Mueller’s fourth birthday party, his parents – Paula and David – arranged to have pony rides in the backyard. After the two ponies arrived, the little party guests had to take turns on one pony because they couldn’t get Dolan off the other. Although no one in the family had any previous riding experience, it was the beginning of a love affair with horses that would eventually involve them all.
It is often said that the people in horseracing – from the owners of the magnificent animals to the backstretch workers who care for them – are some of the kindest and most caring people in the world.
The wonderful thing about talking to people who have lived in the same place through decades of change is that they provide – to those willing to listen – a link to the past, and a personal look at local history. From the perspective of the 24/7, cappuccino-fueled lives that many of us lead, through such people we can occasionally get a glimpse of the world as it was and the way it could be.
J. Paul Reddam is more than a bit of a skeptic – a skeptic in the true sense of the word: he is willing to suspend judgment. A Doctor of Philosophy, his field is epistemology – the study of knowledge.
John Harris: Continuing a California Legacy
John Harris is one of the more visible and outspoken supporters of the California racing and breeding industry – from the "winner’s circle," to his farms, to Sacramento, where legislation and politics have such a dynamic influence on the industry.
Don Rego - Owner Profile (Winter 1999)
If you ask Northern California owner Don Rego what brought him into racing, he’ll tell you…”I love the races, I love the competition, I love the people, but it’s the love for the horse that brought me into and keeps me involved in this marvelous sport.”
He was talking to his “big horse” in its stall one morning, whispering sweet nothings its ear. Sheepishly grinning when realizing he’d been caught, owner Pete Fer couldn’t help but brim with exuberance for his multiple-stakes winning “big horse” Uncaged Fury, winner of the “94” California Cup Sprint.
Thoroughbred owner Joe Massengale is one of the warmest, most outgoing people you would ever hope to meet at a racetrack. To spend an afternoon with him at Hollywood Park is to witness the genuine high-esteem in which he’s held by his many friends and acquaintances.
Barry Henley – Owner Profile (Spring 1998)
He's been up and down the racing rollercoaster in just eight years as a racehorse owner--and seen just about everything. He's struggled through the untimely death of a promising star, and he's experienced the sheer exhilaration of watching a dark horse upset a major stakes event. Good advice, bad advice....Barry Henley has been there, done that, right?
Bill and Linear Bannasch: Owner Profile (Winter 1998)
You can't have it all. Just ask owner Linear Bannasch. "I'm allergic to horses," she lamented, to which husband Bill quickly added, "The sneezing is really annoying. It goes on constantly."
Rob King: Owner Profile (Fall 1997)
Take a stroll by trainer Darrell Vienna's stable around sunrise, and you'll find owner Ron King on the toe ring, cooling out some young steed fresh from a morning gallop. What's so peculiar about that, you ask?
Greg Vela: Owner Profile (Spring 1997)
As many owners have, Greg Vela fell in love with racing through childhood trips to the track with his father and grandfather. A "boys day out" at the racetracks of Chicago began his bond with racing.
Greg Long: Owner Profile (Spring 1997)
Greg Long wanted a Derby horse growinng up as a teenage in Lexington, Kentucky. Ever since the seventh grade, when he got his first riding horse, he has been hooked.
Robert F. Wiest: Owner Profile (Fall 1996)
A semi-retired commodities trader, Robert (Bob) F. Wiest has also authored a book and numerous articles on trading commodities in industry publications. Until recently, Bob's primary occupation involved managing commodity trading and investment accounts. How he chooses to devote as much time as possible to his thoroughbreds.