Attraction of Opposites
Differences, similarities between Geoff Stein and David Reid make for one of racing’s leading partnerships
THE GREEK MYTH IS WELL KNOWN, OF THE KING NAMED MIDAS.
For Midas’ hospitality, Dionysus, god of wine, offered to grant the king anything he wished. The king’s request was simple: that everything he touch turn to gold.
Though the legend reflects that Midas soon regretted his choice—realizing, no doubt, how hard life may be when food and water are changed to gold—the “touch of Midas” has come to reflect those who find success in all that they do.
It is a gift that benefits people in life, and certainly in racing.
It is a gift that seems the property of David Reid and Geoff Stein.
Partners in business, friends in fun, these two men have experienced racing from the land of mere mortals and from the mountain of the gods.
In one moment they might have been, as the owners of Preferred Equine Marketing Inc., consigning a horse to sale at one of countless venues across America. In another, they could have been jet-setting across the Atlantic Ocean for another date to meet two-time Horse of the Year Moni Maker, whom they owned as part of the Moni Maker Stable, in some European winner’s circle.
There is no doubt that Reid, 35, and Stein, 48, have learned to experience the best that racing has to offer—and there is no doubt they plan to keep enjoying their place in the sport long into the future.
Moni Maker may now be retired, but the pair has not slowed a step. As equine agents, Preferred Equine Marketing is going gangbusters. As sales managers, they stepped aside from their eight-year affiliation with the Garden State Sales Company to assume the reins of the famed Tattersalls Sale, leading that venue in 2000 to its strongest showing in years.
Stein and Reid took some time recently to discuss with Hoof Beats Associate Editor Nicole Kraft their experiences in racing, and their take on some of the most important issues facing the sport.
Reid: I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Argyle, N.Y., a small farming community in upstate New York, near Saratoga Springs. My family was a friend of Harold Story [of Scenic Regal fame], and we went to the harness and Thoroughbred tracks quite often. When I was around 15, I started jogging horses with a man in town who had his own little stable, and just got hooked after that.
Stein: My family moved to Long Island when I was around 13, and we were about three miles away from Roosevelt Raceway. I had a friend whose father was a teller at Yonkers Raceway, and he was very involved in harness racing and knew about the sport.
Reid: After graduating from Morrisville College, I was the yearling manager at Saratoga Standardbreds. At that time, Niatross and Diamond Exchange were standing at stud. Preferred Equine Marketing was actually started by Saratoga Standardbreds. While I was working at Saratoga, Pat Waldo had left his position, which created a vacancy at Preferred Equine Marketing. It was left dormant for a short period.
Saratoga Standardbreds was handling the dispersal of Boardwalk Associates on behalf of the bank. All of their remaining horses were boarded there at that time. They contacted Geoff and Hal Jones during that summer to do an appraisal on Boardwalk’s holdings. That’s when I met Geoff.
Later that fall, they offered Geoff the position to run Preferred Equine Marketing. One thing led to another. Geoffrey and myself started working closer together at Preferred Equine, and then we struck a deal to buy Preferred Equine. That’s how we got started.
People say that with us, opposites attract, but I don’t know if that’s what happened. I think the perception is a little bit different than the reality sometimes.
Stein: When I went to Saratoga Standardbreds, Dave was in charge of the yearlings up there. We hit it off well, and he was somebody that obviously knew his horses cold. He was really enthusiastic; he seemed very dedicated to the farm and his horses. Plus, he had the knowledge. He had been around horses a long time.
I think it was more a function that we played off of each other’s strengths. I guess we’re opposites in that we come from different backgrounds of the business, and we have different areas of expertise. That’s really one of the main reasons that we’ve been so successful.
Reid: Plus the other cliché is “right place, right time” for both of us. That probably had a lot to do with it.
Stein: When I first got started in the business, I used to go to the races virtually every night, and soon I started to go to sales. Really, from the first time I went to sales, it was always very intriguing to me—the auction, the excitement and the action. I gravitated to that. It was something I didn’t know anything about; I was somebody from the grandstand. But it intrigued me. I was always fascinated by the pedigrees of the horses. As I got more involved in the sport, started to own horses and so forth, it became a natural area to pursue.
Reid: I met Pat Waldo through an acquaintance when I was in junior high school. He was working with Phil Tully’s Woodstock Stud and Garden State Horse Sale Company. After I graduated from high school, I started working at Pat’s farm in Pine Hollow, N.Y., which was very close to several major breeding farms like Pine Hollow Stud, Lana Lobell, Blue Chip Farms, etc. Pat continued working at Phil Tully’s sales, which allowed me to start working the sales at a young age, and Pat showed me the ropes. I have a lot of respect for Pat, and I learned a great deal from him. Being around Pat, Phil Tully and the sales, it was very exciting, and I liked that very much.
Preferred Equine Marketing
Stein: When we first started Preferred Equine Marketing, we were selling horses primarily for Boardwalk and Saratoga Standardbreds. We had a very small outside client base. One of the first areas we concentrated on was building up a client base, and we went about that by trying to offer more personalized service than any other sales agency.
I think that’s where it helped to have Dave and myself, because Dave brought horsemanship to the table, and I brought a different marketing approach. I think the two of us had a lot to offer, and what we tried to do was keep things on a personal basis, be as thorough as we could, and just conduct business with integrity. Those were our guiding lights early on.
In our end of the business, we try to be upfront and realistic with people. That’s not always popular at first, but in the sales business it is essential. I think people respect that. There is not any mystical formula or great secret. That’s the way we are, and that’s how we conduct business.
Reid: I think all of the changes I have seen have been positive. I would say that a lot of other areas in the industry are becoming more of a specialty, especially in the yearling market. It’s becoming more of a specialized industry as far as the farms doing a better job of preparing yearlings for sale, and marketing them better. With the new walkers, and the breed becoming more refined, I think it’s improved quite a bit.
Stein: One thing I think has changed is that the buyers are significantly more sophisticated now than they were 20 years ago. When we were selling yearlings in the ’80s, there were a lot of well-bred yearlings that sold for high prices, regardless of their conformation. Now, I think buyers are more demanding. They know what they want in terms of pedigree; they know what they want in terms of conformation.
What has shifted is that they’re willing to spend a premium for what they want. In the ’80s, there were plenty of high-priced horses; now they are willing to pay almost any price for the right horse, but it has to be the right horse. It can’t just have pedigree or conformation—it has to have everything.
“There are no second chances. That’s the most challenging part of selling a horse. You only have two minutes in the sun.” —GEOFFREY STEIN
Stein: There are no second chances. That’s the most challenging part of selling a horse. You only have two minutes in the sun. It’s a question of covering all your bases and making sure that the horse gets enough exposure. You want to be as thorough as you can and not overlook anything.
Claiming vs. sales
Reid: The claiming game is very healthy right now at the major tracks. It is much more competitive that it was years ago, and I obviously link that to higher overnight purses. The number of racehorses at the public sales is slightly down.
People still use the sales venue as an important tool in their overall planning. I don’t think people interested in buying and selling as a business necessarily use the claiming game. The claiming game is a different facet of the business.
Stein: I think the one thing you see is that the people who have the top horses, they want to race the horses; they want to keep the horses. Whether it’s privately or publicly, the top horses are not for sale like they used to be.
In the past, there was a lot more movement at the high end. Now, whether it’s racehorses or broodmares, the people that are in it want to own the best. They want a top horse. For the most part, people are a lot more reluctant to sell them than they were maybe 10 years ago.
It’s so very difficult to get a quality racehorse, so the alternative is the yearling market.
I think the shortage of top horses for sale is why you’re seeing the rise in the yearling market. There were people that perhaps six or seven years ago weren’t interested in the yearling market; they just wanted to race horses. The problem is you just can’t get enough of a supply, and I think that they’re forced to go into the yearling market if they want to have racehorses or stakes horses.
Thoroughbred vs. Standardbred sales
Reid: Two-year-old sales, for whatever reason, have never caught on in our business. The Thoroughbreds have an opportunity to bring a horse to market on several more levels than we do, whether it is in the United States, Europe or Down Under.
There is a huge weanling crop offered every year at the mixed sales, which brings in pinhookers for the weanling to yearling markets. When they get to be a yearling, there are pinhookers at that level, from a yearling to a 2-year-old in training sale. There are different times of the year the Thoroughbreds start selling 2-year-olds—in California in January and February, Florida in February, Kentucky in May. If it’s not on the East Coast, it’s on the West Coast.
From that point of view, maybe that’s part of the reason why sales of 2-year-olds in our business haven’t taken off—your market’s based primarily in the eastern part of the U.S. and Canada, with virtually no European presence.
There’s also a misconception or a perception problem in our business. People must have confidence in buying. With 2-year-olds for sale, people think, “Why would a person be selling these horses?”
For whatever reason, that is the perception. There are a very few trainers in our industry that buy yearlings, train them down and sell them when they’re supposed to be sold. The ones that participate in that market do very well for themselves. It’s always surprised me that more people wouldn’t look at that end of the business to fill that gap.
Another difference in Thoroughbreds versus Standardbreds is the Thoroughbreds rarely recognize time. They go strictly on performance at a stakes level.
Stein: The yearling sales are going gangbusters. The last few years, I don’t think you’d find too many disgruntled sellers.
The economy has been a large factor. Also, the business in general is shaking out. I think the people who are playing now are very serious, and they are willing to invest significant sums of money. That’s a big factor.
Stein: Our philosophy has always been that the order of sale is secondary. You can go through any year, any sale, and regardless of how each sale is formatted, you see horses that bring a lot of money early, and you see plenty of horses bring money late.
Obviously, everybody would like to sell in the middle of the sale, but, of course, that is not feasible. When the horses don’t meet expectations, sellers may say, “Well, if it had a different number, if it had a different day, if it had a different this or that.” To us, that’s rarely a factor. You find, especially when you sell a lot of yearlings over the course of a year, that the horses generally bring what you expect them to bring, regardless of when or where they sell. The horse is still the most important factor. If it looks the part, the buyers will find it.
We have no major conflicts about order. Everybody can’t have the same number, and I think people understand that. Again, it all evens out. Some years maybe somebody has better numbers than other years. The other factor is that the market has been so good lately; as I said before, you have very few dissatisfied customers. If the horse sells up to expectations, that’s really all that matters.
We’ve had a lot of times people say, “Well it’s so late,” or “it’s so early,” and generally speaking at the end of the sale everybody is happy. Certainly over the last five years everybody’s been extremely happy.
Reid: I know the USTA had a panel that was going to look into grading stakes. It’s a huge undertaking to go back in time and change the stakes and change the records—and to get all the sales companies to agree on a format. It’s hard to get five people in a room and have them agree on anything. Unless it starts with an accurate database, it’d be a hard thing to have a consistent format.
Stein: The one thing I do think should be addressed and should be looked into is our standards. A 2:00 pacer is meaningless now. Most owners, if you tell them they’re going to buy a yearling that’s going to be a 2:00 pacer, they’re going to want their money back. What would be important is to lower the actual standards, because I think the current standards just don’t hold up with today’s speed. I think the standards are antiquated.
Stein: We’re running Tattersalls from New York, and it’s not a problem. Phil Tully ran Garden State Sales Company in its heyday, and I don’t think there was a more successful sale or salesman than Phil. He operated from Woodstock, N.Y., and there can’t be a more out-of-the-way place than Woodstock. Especially now, in the age of communication—with fax machines and computers—distance poses no problem. It’s a non-factor.
Reid: It was a big economic undertaking for the partners to purchase The Red Mile, and immediately invest much more capital on improving the facility. The partners participate in selling their horses at Tattersalls, so it’s a group effort.
Stein: And the yearlings that they brought to the sale were terrific. The group that purchased The Red Mile and Tattersalls are some of the premier breeders in the industry, and it was a tremendous base to build from.
We’ve been able to develop it from there, but I think that was a terrific jump start.
Reid: There’s still a plan of action to make more improvements….They’ve already revamped the arena, revamped the walking ring—they’re going to pretty much have a new facelift for the whole plant.
Going forward, the changes are going to be less noticeable than they were the first year, because basically everything got changed—from the stalls to the watering system, to the pavement to the rubber, to the ceiling being taken down and the sales ring being relocated. They added wash stalls and fencing to the whole perimeter of the property, so there’s a lot that was done in a short period of time.
Stein: We’re really focusing on increasing the sale. This year we will be selling over 600 extremely well-bred yearlings, and have added a number of new consignors, including Walnut Hall Ltd. Despite the loss of Castleton, our numbers are up nearly 125 head. That’s significant.
Tattersalls has such a long tradition. We’re trying to make it the premier sale again.
We’ve been entrusted with Tattersalls. We meet with the partners and talk about various issues, but basically we’re left to run the business. That’s why they hired us, and that’s what we’ve been doing. The results speak for themselves.
We were running Garden State Sales for eight years and simultaneously handling Preferred Equine, so it’s really no different now—running Tattersalls sales and still managing Preferred Equine. I think this is a business that the more you can do, the more valuable you are to your clientele.
Garden State Sales Company
Stein: We started managing Garden State Sales around 1993. We had always talked about having a sales company. It was in the back of our minds. It was one of our ambitions. We mentioned to Phil Tully that if he ever had thoughts about retiring that we would be interested in talking. When he was ready, we initiated discussions about purchasing Garden State. The discussions spanned more than a year, but we were able to structure a deal, and off we went.
Our eight years there were very educational and enjoyable. We learned something from everybody—from Jimmy Simpson to Russell Williams to Murray Brown to Ralph Lemmon, the president of Garden State Sales and the unsung hero of the group. It was a lot of fun. Even though we decided to leave and pursue Tattersalls, we still have a strong relationship.
I think we did a good job over there; they were very fair with us, and we tried to be fair with them.
“Most owners, if you tell them they’re going to buy a yearling that’s going to be a 2:00 pacer, they’re going to want their money back. What would be important is to lower the actual standards, because I think the current standards just don’t hold up with today’s speed” —DAVID REID
Reid: Dr. Peter Boyce and Howard Beissinger go around with Geoffrey and myself. We go to the farms, and inspect the yearlings, and then we grade them according to pedigree and individual.
Loss of Castleton
Reid: I think it’s big. You never want to lose a breeding farm with the tradition, history and success that Castleton had. They were very professional, and have about as beautiful a farm as there is in the world. They did a great job preparing yearlings, and had a great customer base.
It takes a long time to build up a broodmare band of any substance, and to lose one of the few big farms remaining in the industry is a major blow.
Stein: We realized the impact of Castleton during the mixed sale, with its dispersal and the overwhelming response we had—from Europeans and worldwide. I think that the turnout was just an indication of how revered Castleton was, not just in the U.S but worldwide. Whereas you may be able to replace the numbers, per se, I think when an institution like that closes its doors, it’s a serious loss.
We were hoping that wasn’t going to be; we would be much happier if Castleton was still open and continuing its tradition. But over the course of the last 10 years, that’s been the case with many farms. It’s something the industry has always been able to compensate for, somehow, some way, so hopefully it’ll be the same here.
Joining Kentucky Standardbred?
Stein: At Tattersalls, we want to do what’s best for the industry. I think everybody would be in favor of doing anything that makes sense. What that means in the future, it’s hard to say.
Reid: It’s the age of mergers, acquisitions and consolidation. Not just in the horse business; of all types of businesses. You can envision where a merger might be beneficial in the future.
Stein: When the industry is healthy, everyone thrives. Last year, both Tattersalls and Kentucky Standardbred had great sales. I don’t think it’s a question of us versus them, or them versus us. When the industry is healthy, there’s room for everybody to co-exist.
Stein: Our relationship with the Antonaccis evolved through Preferred Equine Marketing.
When we started with Boardwalk, we were dealing with a high caliber of horse, particularly mares like Tarport Frenzy and Delmonica Hanover, so I think that was initially how we began to interact with the Antonaccis. Although we didn’t do any business early on, slowly we started to do some business with the Antonaccis—we sold a stallion share here, and then we sold a couple mares, purchased a couple of mares for them. One thing led to another, and we became more involved. This was in the late 1980s.
Reid: The other family member of the Antonaccis, Frank of Crown Stable, started selling his yearlings at public market with us. Lindy Farms came on after that. That’s really how we got to be doing more business with the Antonaccis. It was kind of an extended family, as you would say.
Stein: It was really a slow evolution. One of the mares that we really got started with was the purchase of Tarport Maggie. That was a mare that Sonny really was interested in purchasing, and Frankie had spoken to us to see what we could do. It took about a year, but we finally bought her. From there, our relationship became stronger.
As we became more involved, it was Frankie that led to the opportunity to sell the Crown Stable horses, which had a significant impact on Preferred at the time. They were very high-profile horses, and it gave us an opportunity to gain exposure at a major sale.
The biggest single transaction that brought us together was arranging the syndication of the Antonacci-owned Lindy Lane with Hanover Shoe Farms. After his 2-year-old season, we negotiated a deal with Russell Williams.
Reid: I think the Antonaccis have had a very big impact on the sport. Starting with Sonny, he was very, very respected by fellow breeders. Being associated with Speedy Crown, Howard Beissinger and winning four Hambletonians couldn’t have hurt, that’s for sure.
From the trotting industry point of view, they’ve done more in the industry than most of their peers. Their success has been with trotters, and it’s even more difficult to have great success on a high level with trotters.
Stein: There have been people over the years who have spent a lot of money— they’ve had farms or bought yearlings—but the Antonacci family has been totally dedicated to the business. Under Sonny’s guidance, they evolved from owning a couple of racehorses, and grew to the point that they’re a significant factor in all aspects of the business.
They have a huge breeding operation now. They have a racing operation. ä120 They have one of the most gorgeous farms in the country, if not the world. Regardless of their success, every year they go back to the sales; they put money into the sport.
There are very few other people that have the actual love of the sport that they do, and I think that’s directly attributed to Sonny and his influence on his sons, Frank and Gerry, and the whole family. Even the grandchildren now are into the sport.
How many families are there that go generation to generation to generation? You’re talking about a dedication to the sport that could span five or six generations. That is unheard of today.
Reid: Especially on the ownership side. We’re not talking trainers or drivers. It’s the ownership and the breeding business.
Stein: You have a family that’s so involved, that it’s in their blood. If there was somebody who deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, it was certainly Sonny [who was inducted in 2000]. Besides the obvious—the Hambletonian winners and the great horses that he’s had—his legacy will live on through his family for generations.
If there were more people like Sonny in the sport, the sport would be a lot healthier.
Moni Maker was a very nice trotting mare when Reid and Stein negotiated the deal for her purchase by the Antonacci family and the rest of the Moni Maker stable, of which they became a part. She went on to become one of the greatest trotters ever, with earnings in excess of $5 million and two Horse of the Year titles. Reid poses with the mighty lass and her groom, Roman Kogalin, at Lexington.
Stein: The way we got Moni Maker was similar to Tarport Maggie, in a strange way. Both were long ordeals that proved worth the perseverance. She was a very high-profile yearling; obviously with a pedigree like hers, everybody looked at her. When she started to race, Sonny had spoken to us and said, “We’ve got to keep an eye on this filly, because she’s such a great-bred mare, and if we ever get an opportunity we should try to buy her.”
We watched her racing, and we started to have conversations with [former owner E. Carlyle] Smith when she was 2 years old. Finally, almost midway through her 3-year-old year, we consummated the deal.
When we finally got the deal done she had won 11 in a row at the time, so there was a lot of clamoring to get her bought. There were a lot of offers from a lot of different people. After we finally bought her, she won the Hambletonian Oaks a week later, so I think everybody was very glad the way things had turned out. Sonny gave us an opportunity to buy in, and for that we are extremely grateful.
Reid: At the time, if you look back at it, we never imagined it would end up like this. You’re hoping to have a nice 3-year-old season and then breed her. Racing overseas was the furthest thing from our mind. We just wanted to get through the season—hopefully she’d have a good year and pay for herself, and then we’d have a broodmare to go forward with in the future.
Stein: The one person who had unwavering confidence in her, and who would always tease us that we were underestimating her ability, was Wally Hennessey. Wally would say, “We’ve never extended her. She was great; she was this, she was that.”
It’s hard to argue with somebody when you win every week, and ultimately he proved to be quite prophetic.
“There were no negatives. You never want it to end, but realistically, [Moni Maker] was telling us her time had come. One thing that was very important to us was to let her go out on top.” —GEOFFREY STEIN
The way she was racing at the end of her 3-year-old season, it was natural for us to try and bring her back at 4. She had lost only one race since we purchased her, and Wally said she really hadn’t been extended. It wasn’t a difficult decision; there was really no mention of doing anything else. She also seemed like the type that would be a good European horse.
She’s a big, strong filly, and she hadn’t been abused. Her attitude was good. She really had everything going for her—her soundness was very good, so there was really no reason to think about stopping.
Reid: The best part of her campaign—besides the $5.8 million? For me personally, the best part is to be associated with her and all the partners, and to have the opportunity to watch, travel and experience racing at the highest level in both Europe and the United States.
To be able to not only win prestigious races—the Elitlopp and the Prix d’Amerique and races of that magnitude—but to experience it with family and friends, that’s the thing that I treasure most out of it. It was an incredible experience.
I’m young enough that I’ll be able to talk about the memories of Moni Maker for a long time.
Stein: You grow up and see Fresh Yankee, Une De Mai and Delmonica Hanover, and it’s hard to believe that you can actually have a horse that’s in the same category as those horses.
I think the best part of it was being able to experience the different cultures, different countries, and all the traveling and camaraderie. For three years we went back and forth to Europe, and brought our families and all the partners.
Everyone involved in Moni Maker got along so well—from the owners, to Jimmy [Takter] to Wally. It was just an unbelievable experience.
There were no negatives. You never want it to end, but realistically, she was telling us her time had come. One thing that was very important to us was to let her go out on top.
When she went under saddle at The Red Mile, that was a spectacular way to end something that was so unique. She was so great that day. That was something that we’ll all remember for a long time.
The way she finished up was amazing. She won the Trot de Mondial by open lengths. She was perfect that day.
To do what she did at the level she did for so long, it has to end sometime. It would be great if she could’ve done it another three years. But I think that to go out the way she did was very gratifying.
We appreciated her achievements while she was racing, but looking back and reflecting on all her races, I just sit back and marvel at all she accomplished.
Making money with Moni
Stein: We had a general outline every year. One year the focus of the campaign was to win the Elitlopp; another year it was to win the Prix d’Amerique; another year it was to win the Breeders Crown. We sat down every year and decided what the focal point would be, and let Jimmy get her there the way he thought was best.
That worked out well, because the year we wanted to win the Elitlopp we won the Elitlopp, the year we wanted to win the Prix d’Amerique we won the Prix d’Amerique. I have to give Jimmy all the credit for getting her there the way he did.
Reid: Especially considering that, of the three major events that you wanted to win, they were all in three different time frames of the calendar. It’s a difficult thing to have a horse in peak condition for the Elitlopp (May), fly back to this country and meet the quarantine requirements for the Breeders Crown (July), and then ship back to Europe in the fall to prepare for the Prix d’Amerique (January). Considering the different climates—spring she’s in Scandinavia, summer she’s in the United States and Canada, and the winter in France when it was cold and damp—it’s very difficult to continually peak for each event.
The credit definitely goes to Jimmy and his team for conditioning the mare like that.
Stein: When you consider one race is in Sweden, one race is in the United States and one race is in France, it’s even more amazing. It’s not like shipping from Freehold to The Meadowlands.
With all the things that can go wrong—which we also got to experience along the way—it’s quite remarkable the way he was able to keep her at that level for so long. Jimmy had said most horses couldn’t hold up to her travel schedule, let alone her racing schedule.
Reid: I always said it was a total team effort, because the ownership partners never had a cross word, Jimmy did a fantastic job training her, and she had a fantastic caretaker in Roman Kogalin. Roman did a tremendous job with her, and he was able to speak different languages for each country, and he always made sure that she had the best.
Mini Moni Makers
Stein: She’s now in foal to Valley Victory. Hopefully she’ll have a beautiful foal. Like Dave said, the nice thing about it was that everybody got along. There was never a question of who did what, so there’s no reason to think that that’s going to change in the future. When she has her yearlings, I would say that the general consensus now is we’ll probably sell the colts and keep the fillies.
The horse business
Stein: We’ve had a number of horses besides Moni Maker. She is obviously unequaled, but throughout the years, we’ve had some pretty good mares. We’ve always done well; it’s something we really enjoy.
Reid: We own pieces of 10 mares—maybe 10 to 15 racing fillies or broodmares.
When Harvey Gold was in business with Rainbow’s End, we owned horses together, like Divine Victory, Gingin Hanover and Almost An Angel. When he dispersed, we sold out with the partnership. Right now we have a couple of Victory Dream mares—Dreams, a sister to Moni Maker who was injured at 2 and as a 4-year-old is now in foal to Malabar Man; and Starlit Dream, a sister to Breeders Crown winner My Dolly, who is Moni Maker’s constant companion in the pasture. Those two are inseparable.
“The bottom line is, for the betterment of any sport…you have to have integrity. The problem in our sport is that every decision is made on a state level.” —DAVID REID
Stein: We concentrate on fillies. With our positions at Tattersalls and Preferred Equine, it makes sense for us to sell a few yearlings every year on our own. That’s why we stick with mares. It’s what we know, and it’s what we like, so why not help the cause?
We’ve always owned horses. With Moni Maker we got tremendous exposure, but we’ve had some very nice fillies—not of her caliber, but some very nice fillies.
Stein: Over the past several years, we have been getting more involved in stallion syndication. We sold a number of stallions overseas, including Mykindavictory to Germany and Silver Pine to Sweden. Over the past few years, we were instrumental in syndicating Kentucky Futurity winner Credit Winner to Blue Chip Farms and divisional champion Island Fantasy to Armstrong Bros. This is an area we plan to be very active in the future. Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to syndicate another stallion this year.
Divvying up duties
Reid: Geoff does everything, and I don’t do anything except go to the beach! Seriously, I’m more of an operations guy, and Geoff is a sales and communication guy.
The thing about the sales and racing business is that we are involved in a lot of different aspects of the sport, depending on the time of the year. It really changes. We get to go to farms and look at weanlings. We go to the sales, sell yearlings, racehorses and broodmares. We do a lot of consulting for individuals and farms about matings and breeding decisions. We consult some clients on racing schedules. A lot of people joke, “What do you do when you’re not at sales?,” but to be quite candid, it’s definitely a 12-month-a-year job.
Stein: The sales, in many respects, are the easiest part—certainly the most fun. It’s the preparation that’s challenging. Before, there used to be a slow period around December, but not anymore. I don’t think people realize the preparation that goes into selling yearlings or putting together catalogs; it’s very time-consuming. It’s year-round. You’re either trying to get yearlings to sell or getting prepared for the catalog. Then there are mixed sales in December and January.
There’s always a lot going on. I don’t think we really have a typical day.
There are many different aspects of putting a sale together, so we never really had a defined work schedule in terms of “Dave, you have to do this, and I’m going to do this.” We know it has to be done and we do it.
There are a lot of things that Dave does better than I do; there are some things that I do better than him. There are some areas that I like to do more than he does and vice versa, and we just try to get it done the best way we can.
Stein: Something we are proud of is that we’ve been able to establish such strong and enduring relationships with our clients. One of the most enjoyable aspects of our business is dealing with our clients. We’ve been selling horses for Joe Parisi, Alan Skolnick, the Antonaccis and George Segal since the late 1980s. Without their confidence and support, Preferred Equine Marketing would never have been able to attain the position it has today. They were willing to give us an opportunity when we first started, when it was the most difficult. They have stuck with us ever since. It’s hard to forget that.
Stein: What attracted me to the business was the excitement. Roosevelt Raceway was packed every night, and the crowds and the racing were electric. There are so many people who got involved the same way I did; they went to Roosevelt, they went to Yonkers. The business really had an energy to it then, and I think that was something that was lost over the last couple of generations.
There is so much more competition for people’s leisure time and money—cable TV, sports on around the clock, casinos—so rekindling that energy, or finding something that young people can hook onto, is important.
You have to recapture the younger audience. Without that, it’s a difficult road for racing.
Reid: The spending of entertainment dollars is a lot more competitive than it was back when Geoff was young.
There is a lot more competition, so the horsemen, the racetracks and the industry have to get focused on a plan to somehow target these individuals.
Facing the future
Stein: The fact that the purses are as high as they are today, that’s the catalyst for attracting owners. The purses get people involved, and the more owners you get involved, the better chance you have to capture the next generation. It’s a big-event society—people love the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and the $1 million races. I remember when the Woodrow Wilson was $2 million. It’s events like these that capture the public’s attention.
Reid: It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future. People are working more hours at their jobs. How is the revolution of the Internet going to take shape in a few more years when the technology companies learn from their mistakes and get stronger? There is no doubt that the technology structure is improving, with the development of TVG and TRN placing racing on TV, [Frank] Stronach buying several racetracks, Churchill [Downs] forming alliances, and the New York City OTB hopefully being taken over. These changes will be better for the sport.
Before we get young owners or new owners into the business, we have to address the perception problem in racing. With each state having its own jurisdictions and racing commissions, I’m not sure how that’s going to be handled.
Whatever change is positive for our sport, it must be a long-term plan that is well-financed, in order to have a significant impact.
Reid: The bottom line is, for the betterment of any sport, whether it be the NBA, the NFL, Major League Baseball, you have to have integrity. The problem in our sport is that every decision is made on a state level.
If a trainer is racing horses in one state and he gets some sort of penalty, and he appeals it, he’s on stay in one state. That means he can race in another state. With each state having its own jurisdiction, it makes it more difficult to cross those hurdles.
Everyone should have his or her day in court; I agree with that. But on the other hand, perception-wise, we have problems. A leading trainer last year at The Meadowlands is not allowed on the grounds this year. It doesn’t look good to the average person. The racing industry does not need people that will be detrimental to the sport. And the ones that are detrimental must be penalized. On the contrary, after serving a penalty, he or she should be able to resume his or her occupation without any legal battles with the commissions.
The right impression
Stein: The better the product, the better the sport will be—make it more attractive to people. What we tried to do with the Moni Maker Stable was do what was in the best interest of the sport. We campaigned her that way—I mean, there were a lot of things we could’ve done differently, but we always made it a point to go to whatever track people wanted to see her at, showcase her in the best light we could.
When we were in Italy, we went to Montegeorgio, a small track, because there was a great clamoring from the people, and we hadn’t gone the year before. We went there, even though it was a half-mile track, just to showcase the mare.
We really tried to showcase her, and maybe, more importantly, to do something that would help promote the sport—like racing Moni Maker under saddle at The Red Mile. It would’ve been easy just to race her or to retire her, but we wanted to try to do something that would certainly have an impact, that would draw attention to the history of our sport, because unfortunately, there’s so many negative headlines all the time. We were hoping to generate the right type of publicity, and I think, if nothing else, we were successful with that.
If people keep in mind the sport or the game, and they act accordingly, I think the sport would be far cleaner, and it would be a lot healthier than it is now. Sometimes it’s easy in this business to lose sight of things in the pursuit of money, trophies and fame. But I think that if you try to do what is in the best interests of the horses, first, and the sport, second, then things would be a lot cleaner, a lot better. HB
Hoof Beats – September 2001 Article