The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of US Racing.
It’s about the experience.
Charles Simon and Troy Levy have been friends for more than three decades. When they first, they were the two young guns in an adult world, forming a relationship while Simon was the assistant racing secretary at Yonkers Raceway and Levy was a trainer/driver. But the way they thought, along with their knowledge and understanding of racing belied their tender ages. And those variables would loom large as both men made a transition from the world of Standardbred racing to thoroughbred racing.
A Better Experience
Simon and Levy had owned racehorses together in the past and, for more than a year, the two men threw ideas back and forth regarding how they could make the experience better. What are people missing? What do the owners need?
Toward this end, the two men formed the partnership Tropical Racing, with Simon conditioning the horses and Levy taking the reins of the business end.
“I had owned other businesses before, my children had gotten older, and I said to Chuck, ‘Why don’t we give this a try?’” Levy said. “Why don’t we really put our heads together and put a product out there that can attract people back to the racehorse business, and give them something no one else is giving?”
However, it was the depth of experience and knowledge, honed by countless hours of talking to owners, listening intently to their thoughts, fine-tuning their own ideas, analyzing what could be done to improve the business, attract new fans and retain those who’ve been a loyal part of a dwindling base that served as the impetus for the launch of their racing partnership.
“We went ahead and made a laundry list of things most owners complain about — why owners don’t get back in the racehorse business,” said Levy, “and we tried to come up with a solution and circle those things out of the equation and gave them Tropical Racing.”
When a person invests in a racehorse, they’re basically becoming a part-owner of a sports franchise, said Levy.
Among the concerns Simon had heard during his numerous conversations with owners was that there was a lack of communication and information, fluctuating costs, numerous bills and a scarcity of updates when horses got hurt.
“You can’t stop horses getting hurt,” said Simon. “That’s part of the deal. I think the best thing you can do is be as honest as you can with people. ‘Listen, this horse has an injury, the horse probably won’t be as good when it comes back, should we liquidate?’ I think that’s one of the things that a lot of guys don’t do. What we’re trying to do is make people happy.”
The concept of racing partnerships is hardly a new idea, but Tropical Racing is placing an emphasis on the partners, more so than the partnership itself, said Simon.
“We try to accent the positives of ownership, and try to mitigate the negatives,” he says.
But, as in many business models, each equation has a number of variables, and one common theme that kept on rearing its ugly head among the owners he spoke with was the constant barrage of bills.
“The amount is something that’s hard to do too much about,” said Simon. “Owning horses is expensive. Horses eat a lot. It costs a lot of money to take care of them.”
The expense and sustained billing process were among the concerns openly addressed by owners, when discussing the sport’s business side with Simon.
“Owners would tell me, ‘On the first of the month, I get a bill from the vet, I get a bill from the trainer, I get a bill from a different trainer, I get a bill from the blacksmith, I get a bill from the shipping company, I get a bill from another vet, I get a bill from a therapy person,’” said Simon. “So, even though they may not be real expensive bills, it’s just the volume of checks that has to be cut.”
Keeping the Cost Down
However, Tropical Racing is doing its part to keep the expense associated with the Sport of Kings to a minimum.
“It was important for us to cut that into one payment a month,” said Simon. “It was important to us that our people wouldn’t be getting bombarded with bills. They would be getting one bill, and it would be a static bill. The amounts would be pretty similar from month-to-month.”
Tropical Racing’s transparency provides owners with the opportunity to budget wisely, allowing them more flexibility in the event something does happen.
“We don’t go in individually, and say we gave this horse a vitamin shot today,” said Simon. “But if there’s any major veterinary expense, it’s going to be revealed before the bills come out, so people aren’t going to be blindsided. And thankfully, we haven’t had any major issues with the Tropical horses.”
Thoroughbred racing is facing the dilemma of attracting new fans, increasing its existing fan base, but the cost of the sport is prohibitive, denying many people an opportunity to participate in a game they would desperately love to be involved with. Tropical Racing, through its membership club, provides the racing enthusiast with a way to access the sport in a more intimate way than just going to the racetrack. But how does someone who doesn’t have the financial means to own a racehorse become involved with the Sport of Kings? That’s something that Simon and Levy have put a lot of thought into.
“One of the things that’s always bothered me, a normal guy, a fan of racing, someone who loves the game but doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to participate as an owner, they just don’t have the $3,000 a month, let alone whatever it costs to purchase a horse,” said Simon. “To pay $1,500 a month would be too much for them. To me, there seems to be a large number of people out there that would like to participate, but they don’t have the ability to do it.”
However, under the umbrella of Tropical Racing, the partnership allows a person access to the sport. And although they don’t own a horse outright, they become more involved with the stable as a whole. It’s an affordable way to become involved with thoroughbred ownership, with a trip to the racetrack taking on greater meaning and purpose.
“You pay a monthly fee, but it’s an extremely low monthly fee,” said Simon.
Membership and its Benefits
Tropical Racing’s membership club, which has several tiers, provides an opportunity for the racing enthusiast to get closer to the sport. In addition to the traditional swag such as hats and t-shirts, Tropical Racing has partnered with a number of businesses in the Hallandale Beach area, including hotels, restaurants and, most importantly, Gulfstream Park, allowing for deep discounts at Ten Palms (restaurant), along with valet parking and free programs, making the experience more than just a day at the races.
Tropical Racing realizes that investors are putting their hard-earned money into the partnership, with the intent of enjoying the experience but also making some money, said Levy. The Fort Lauderdale-Miami market is extremely challenging with multiple competing interests.
“We put together the membership levels to entice investors and, at the same time, give them something,” said Levy. “Just coming to the racetrack isn’t enough anymore. There are a million things to do, especially in South Florida. There’s every sporting team; there’s every sporting event, every bar, every restaurant, every hotel — it’s a five minute drive.”
The membership levels concentrate on the overall experience, providing members with a reason to come to the racetrack, said Levy. The various levels of membership offer a deep variety of perks, allowing those who participate, a chance to be involved and feel important and good about the entire process.
“They don’t have to get nickeled and dimed getting a race program, and they can get into the winner’s circle,” said Levy. “They can come down to the barn and visit us. We’re here to teach everyone the business and not have them fall into the traps if they do want to go ahead and own racehorses as individuals and not through a syndicate.”
A Diverse Approach
Tropical owns several broodmares, with New York-breds having run recently at Finger Lakes, but plans call for more Florida-breds in the future. Frosty the Dragon, a member of the Tropical Racing roster, broke his maiden on Sept. 23 at Finger Lakes for trainer Charlton Baker at the Canadaigua, N.Y. racing oval. The 2-year-old chestnut colt was bred by Sunrise Stables LLC and Troy Levy.
The Florida-bred filly Tropical Runnings broke her maiden at Gulfstream Park on Sept. 24. The dark bay daughter of Stay Thirsty, out of Mystic Crystal by Rock Hard Ten, is trained by Simon.
An emphasis on flexibility provides Tropical Racing with room to maneuver, not locking into just one way of doing something, said Simon.
“We’ll strike wherever there’s value. We consider the 2-year-old sales, racing the horses and selling them privately or campaigning them,” said Simon. “It’s important for us to make the mares and shoot for a stake down the line.”
Visibility has also played a role marketing the racing partnership.
“Chuck and I pretty much go to all the yearling and 2-year-old sales,” said Levy.
A New York-bred, one that can be competitive in Big Apple just because of the purse structure of state-bred races, and the fact that Tropical Racing is a co-breeder of such horses, is preferred, said Simon.
“We get the purse, we get the breeders awards and if someone were to want to buy it from us, we don’t shy away from making a profit,” said Simon. “I have Frosty the Dragon’s half-sister, who’s a 2-year-old, named Shamrock Beach. She’s by Dublin, and it’s a little play on Tropical with beach. I didn’t name her, but I thought it was pretty good. She’s kind of a later-developing horse. She’s probably not going to start until the winter. I might get her started at Gulfstream.
“I also have the yearling sister, who’s a full-sister to Frosty the Dragon,” Simon continued. “She’s a registered New York-bred and, of the three horses, she’s physically the most imposing. She’s got very good conformation. She’s a nice-size horse — to me, the best foal we’ve had from that mare.”
Levy and Simon both possess a keen eye when it comes to buying a racing prospect, recognizing its promise and potential.
“I think we have a little advantage where we’ll go ahead and buy those types of horses, get them at reasonable prices and really turn them into something of value,” said Levy.
Ownership and its Privileges
Those members who invest in the horses themselves are made platinum members of the membership club, a complimentary feature that comes with ownership in one of Tropical Racing’s groups or of an individual horse.
“The only way you can become a platinum member is by becoming an investor,” said Simon. “The gold membership does get you a lot of similar perks. We just picked up the Diplomat Hotel, they give us a rate, and the Hampton Inn across the street, they give us a rate. There are many other businesses involved with the Gulfstream Park Village that provide us with discounts.”
Tropical Racing’s objective is to get people the best value for their money, whether it’s as an investor or being part of the membership club. Other perks offered include car detailing, a karate school and scuba store discounts.
“We take a portion of the membership revenue, and use it to lower the costs for the people who are invested in the horses themselves,” said Simon. “We have a second group that was just released. We have a package of horses, and I think that’s the best way to do it. We will syndicate individual horses. For the most part, I like to put groups of horses together.”
Many of the thoroughbred racing partnerships have a business model of individual horses being syndicated. It makes more sense to Simon to group horses together.
“Our first group had four horses and our second group had three,” said Simon. “If you have ownership in three horses, you have a much better chance than seeing your horse run more than once in a while. The average horse runs six or seven times a year. If you have three horses that hit the average, you’d get 20 starts a year, as opposed to one, where you might get six. Your chances of getting a good horse are increased when you spread your investment out over a few horses as opposed to one.”
They’re a racing stable that’s on the cutting edge, because there’s also a technology side of the business that Tropical Racing offers its members. Their website developer has built an application you can access from your iPhone, said Levy.
“So, when one of the membership people goes ahead and downloads the application, if they’re driving around, wherever they’re going, they’ll get an alert on their smart phone that this restaurant is offering Tropical Racing members 15 percent off,” said Levy. “It will say do you want to download the voucher, and if the member says yes, the voucher comes popping up on their phone.”
Tropical Racing’s website provides a deep volume of information to keep their members up-to-date on their horses’ progress. Owners and members can communicate with one another on the back end of the website in a manner that’s similar to Facebook.
“The owners can communicate with each other, so if one can’t get to the races, they can discuss it among themselves,” said Levy. “They can upload pictures and send pictures to each other. So, what we’re trying to do is create the Tropical Racing Community, and get them everything they need information-wise and social-wise, and that will attract more people to the racetrack by giving them those extras.”
Owners are often lost in the mix when it comes to thoroughbred racing and Tropical Racing, through its platinum membership, concentrates on providing its members with the best possible experience — luxury suites, free race programs, discounted valet parking — so they feel important when they walk into the racetrack, said Levy.
“We think this is really missing in this industry,” said Levy. “A lot of people take for granted some of these owners and that’s the lifeline.”
Tropical Racing hasn’t only partnered with Gulfstream Park, but is a member of the Hallandale Beach Chamber of Commerce as well, which extends its visibility far beyond just racing.
“We have social events, a Kentucky Derby party, and we’re trying to give our members that experience, from saying hello to us to being in the winner’s circle, while having a day at the racetrack,” said Levy. “We’re really trying to reach out to the community and to give them that experience.”
However, with volume, there are expenditures. And with more horses as part of the membership package, the bills are greater. But that’s where Tropical Racing’s membership club helps to mitigate the cost by using some of the revenue from the entity to lower investors’ monthly expense.
The Tropical Park membership club is a chance to give back a little bit to the people that simply don’t have the money, but want to be fans and want to be part of something, said Simon.
“They’re part of our group,” said Simon. “They’re part of our racing. They don’t get quite the level of perks the owners get, but, by the same token, I just think it’s a good thing to include as many people as you can.”
The sport needs to be marketed by the people who are actively participating in the industry, said Simon.
“We’re the ones that really need to promote it,” said Simon. “We can’t sit around and wait for the tracks or other groups to promote it. The only way we’re going to survive is if we continue to expand and grow ownership, to expand investment in the game.”
A Team Effort
It’s no secret there are many variables that make thoroughbred racing succeed.
“The owners are providing the product to bet on, and obviously the people who bet on the races are extremely important, the breeders who produce the horses are extremely important, the jockeys who ride the horses are extremely important — as are the trainers who train them,” said Simon. “We all do our part. Obviously, we all want this to be a financial success. It’s also important to put a good face on the business, and try to give people the best experience they can.”
As with anything in life, it can be challenging to enter a new field, but having the right mentors, who share their advice and knowledge, can make one’s transition more seamless.
“I think, in a lot of cases, racing does a poor job in explaining why,” said Simon. “There are some things that are very difficult to explain why. Injuries are one. Horses are very fragile. It’s tough to keep them going. That’s a fact of life for us in this business. If you want to break it down to the most simplistic terms, they have big bodies and little skinny legs that go really fast. That’s not the best equation for 20 starts a year. That’s one of the biggest reasons why.”
Expanding the Horizons
Tropical Racing was put together to try to work at a regional level, but has expanded beyond Gulfstream Park, with recent starters at Finger Lakes. The thought process was if Simon and Levy could make the model go in South Florida, it may succeed on a larger scale. South Florida seemed like the best point of entry for three reasons: Simon and Levy are based there, it’s a year-round market and there’s a great deal of interest in racing in south Florida.
“There’s wealth here,” said Simon. “It’s an easy place to get to for people coming from other areas. The weather is nice, especially in the winter.”
The idea is to test drive this model in South Florida with Gulfstream’s blessing, said Simon. The relationship during its nascent stages has been beneficial for Tropical Racing as they’ve partnered with the track for several promotions.
“They’ve allowed us access too many areas, given us a lot of leeway and they’ve given us a lot of perks,” said Simon. “I think they’re kind of a progressive company. The Stronach Company is always trying new things, and they’ve been receptive to what we’re trying to do.”
Simon and Levy see the benefit of strength in numbers, and Tropical Racing is placing an emphasis in getting as many people involved as possible.
Owners are among racetrack’s best customers, because they rarely come to the races by themselves when they own a horse, said Simon.
“They bring friends, they bring family, they create an event, they talk about their horse to other people,” said Simon. “There’s the lead-up, the follow-up and they come to the barn. Sometimes the best advertisement is the people that own the horses. Some tracks aren’t as generous with their efforts as Gulfstream has been with us. That’s an important factor for us.”
Tropical Racing has had the foresight to do what’s best for its platinum club members, those who invest in the horses, by mitigating the cost and thereby providing a more enjoyable experience for those becoming involved in ownership and investing in thoroughbred racing.
“Most of the major partnerships mark up their horses considerably, and that’s not something that we felt all that comfortable doing,” said Simon. “Obviously, we have to mark it up to where we can pay the bills, keep it profitable — no one expects people to work for free. What we’re banking on is that we can produce a racing experience that’s profitable enough. We’re going to try to make you a bit of money here. If we get a chance to sell a horse for a big profit, I believe that’s in their best interest to do, we don’t want to lose all the peoples’ money. Ideally, if we could get back to a break-even point, where people could get back the money they invested, have some fun, win some races, have some good times and great experiences, that would be great.
“Obviously, if we could make money on a deal, reinvesting house money is much better than pulling money out of your pocket. So, what we want to do is keep our fees to a minimum. We charge a low management fee — the office work, the website and all that stuff costs money. We’re not marking horses up 100, 200 or 300 percent.”
The Horses’ and Owners’ Best Interests
Tropical Racing’s approach with horses purchased from the 2-year-old sales is also done with best interests of the prospective owners in mind.
“And with our 2-year-olds in training in particular, we don’t syndicate and offer them until I have them back in the barn, train them, feel comfortable with where they’re at and price them at a fair and equitable price,” said Simon. “I think in a lot of ways, especially with 2-year-olds in training, you really don’t know what you have until you get them to the barn, and you unwind them and train them, not that you’re retraining them.”
The regimen for preparing a horse for a 2-year-olds-in-training sale, where a consignor works a horse for an eighth of a mile or even a quarter of a mile, is far different from what a trainer is going to do to get a horse ready to run in a race.
“We bought horses in April, and we didn’t open that syndicate (until the summer) — Tropical Racing Group No. 2, these are three fillies we purchased at the April OBS Sale,” said Simon. “We didn’t offer those horses until July. I had them here in May and June, so I had a good look at them, to see what I thought of them, to make sure we didn’t buy a horse that simply was going to be a bust, or a horse that wasn’t going to be what we thought it was. It makes me a little more comfortable.”
Simon is more confident with the horse having some experience under his tutelage, as it gives him a better idea of their potential and how they respond to the rigors of training, how they react when they’re breezed, go to the gate and so forth. This allows him to have a greater depth of understanding of their abilities.
“There’s certainly speculation until you run,” said Simon. “We’ve all had great horses that have surprised us. We’ve had lots of them we thought were going to be good, that didn’t turn out to be so good. It’s not an exact science.”
Tropical Racing has a good grasp of the horses in their stable and, because of the depth of the knowledge regarding each horse, they can present a formidable understanding of each individual to prospective investors, rather than partnerships who are buying 2-year-olds in training and syndicating them right away or those claiming horses.
“I think what we’re trying to do is get people in good position and have the investors be happy with the horses,” said Simon. “I want repeat customers. I don’t want to go market to the world every year. I want clients who want to be back. That’s my goal to make people happy and win races, have them have good experiences. I want them to go to the race and have a great time, go to the luxury suite and watch our horse run, go downstairs and get some food and drinks. I want people to enjoy the experience. If we get a nice solid customer base, then we’ll expand. Ultimately, our goal is to provide a good experience. Winning races is usually the best experience you can have in horse racing.”
The sport of the thoroughbred racing is unique and although it allows many to own a piece of a sports franchise for a far more affordable price, owning a horse isn’t something that’s necessary, said Simon.
“The theme is that this is entertainment,” said Simon. “This is supposed to be fun. When it loses its entertainment value and loses its fun, why do it? That’s what we’re trying to avoid. We’re trying to mitigate the things that people don’t like and accentuate the things they do.”
The goal is to make Tropical Racing self-sustaining, said Simon.
Integrity and Accountability
Tropical Racing also places an emphasis on aftercare, with the best interests of the horse coming first. Finding viable homes for the horses, after their racing careers have come to an end, is a priority. The partnership possesses an ethical compass.
“We make sure that the people are vetted and keep up to date with us, and let us know what’s going on,” said Simon. “My assistant Susan [Ditter] does a good job with that.
“We’re not going to run a horse that was running for $50,000 that gets injured, and bring him back and run him for $10,000, especially if they’re compromised,” said Simon. “We’re not going to do it. It doesn’t make sense to do it and, at the end of the day, I have to sleep, Troy has to sleep, the owners have to sleep — and we want to sleep soundly. When you only have five percent in a horse, you’re more willing to do the right thing, and I think that’s important too, because you have to start somewhere.”
By Ben Baugh
Originally published on October 12, 2017
A little encouragement can go a long way.
JC Thoroughbreds has consistently produced results for more than a decade. The father and son team of Juan and Jose Chavez are based at the Oak Ridge Training Center in Williston, Fla. Graduates from their program have gone onto be Grade I winners and establish world records.
The elder Chavez has been involved with thoroughbred racing his entire life, starting out at the racetracks in northern and southern California, and eventually making his way eastward to the Ocala, Florida area — at first running the operation at Pug Hart’s farm in Morriston and, then, working for the Azpuruas. It was Jose that suggested his father make a go of it on his own. One of the sport’s most successful and influential ownership groups, the Generazios, gave them a few horses, and their stable and operation would grow exponentially.
“We started JC Thoroughbreds 11 years ago,” said Jose, who has been in Ocala his entire life. “I convinced my dad to go out on his own because he was very hesitant. I remember it was my dad, my mom and me. I think we started JC Thoroughbreds in the fall of 2005, with seven horses at Starting Point [Training Center]. We rented eight stalls.”
And the operation began to develop from its nascent stages, evolving annually to where, at the height of the breaking and training season, JC Thoroughbreds has between 80-90 horses under its care.
“We’re trying to keep it that way, because one thing my dad always emphasizes, is that we have to be hands-on,” said Jose. “I think if you go above 80, it’s pretty hard.”
It’s that practical approach and attention to detail that has manifested itself on the racetrack, with horses that perform with consistent success.
“My father is one where you have to be at the barn,” said Jose. “You can’t depend on other people. It’s worked out great for us. We’ve managed to build a really solid reputation with owners up north and down here, and the Generazios have been the biggest part of that. They’re very well-respected in the racing community. They’ve kept a lot of people in business. They send us all their horses to break now, and they always keep at least 20 horses with us year round now.”
One graduate of JC Thoroughbreds that went on to distinguish herself as a Grade I-winning millionaire is Discreet Marq, who made nearly $1.3 million on the racetrack, but was a challenge, according to Jose. The talented filly was bred by the Generazios, raced in the silks of Molyglare Stud Ltd., and was conditioned by Christophe Clement. Discreet Marq, who counted the Grade I Del Mar Oaks among her victories, is a daughter of Discreet Cat, out of the Marquetry mare To Marquet.
“Discreet Marq was a funny filly,” said Jose. “She was tough to break. She had an attitude from the time she was a yearling. She came here and didn’t want anyone messing with her. When she got on the track, she was professional. In the stall, walking around her, and when she arrived here as a yearling until the time she left here as a 2-year-old, she had only one groom who would go into the stall and do what he wanted with her. Other than that, if you’d try to go in the stall, she’d pin her ears. Even if you’d walk by she’d try to bite you.”
The hard-headed filly showed promise and possessed the attributes one would find in an upper-tier performer.
“We get 90 to 100 days under the yearlings before we do any kind of breezing,” said Jose. “We started by breezing her an eighth of a mile. She just cooked it. Everybody who was at the viewing stand was impressed with what they saw. They were saying, ‘You have a really nice filly.’ The first time, you don’t pay much attention, you kind of figure it’s something new, so they’re going to do it a little bit faster.”
Discreet Marq had a presence, a memorable personality that displayed a fierce competitiveness.
“She was a handful,” said Jose. “She was fun to break. When she really got down to it and figured out what her job was, she was a very professional filly. She had her days when nobody would really mess with her. From day one, she knew she was the boss.”
JC Thoroughbreds begins its breaking process in mid-September and early October, an approach that’s proven successful.
“The Generazios, because they have so many yearlings, usually they’ll split it up. They have 20-22 yearlings, so we’ll do 12 in September and we’ll do those 12 all the way up until December and, maybe, give those a week off. And, then, the new ones come in and we’ll take over those.”
By early spring all 22 horses will be in training and go to Belmont Park or Monmouth Park.
However, JC Thoroughbreds just doesn’t limit itself to preparing horses for the racetrack, the Chavez’s are also active trainers on the Florida circuit, both at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park.
“We’re twice as busy,” said Jose. “And because I have my trainer’s license, the Generazios have let us run a few of their horses, which is really neat. It’s really neat to be able to break them, train them and then run them. By then, we know everything about the horse. We know their quirks and everything.
“We’ve been working for the Generazios for so long, that most of the horses that we’re breaking, we broke their mares too. Basically, the horse gets their quirks from the mare. We kind of know what to expect when the horses ship in from that particular mare — what he likes and what he doesn’t.”
When they’re able to watch horses that they’ve developed find their way to the winner’s circle, “it’s a satisfying feeling,” said Jose.
“It’s like watching your kids grow up, there’s a sense of pride, even if they’re breaking their maiden for $25,000,” said Jose. “It’s so great, and we’re very blessed that they [the Generazios] let us do this for them. It’s kind of a way for us to give back to them.”
JC Thoroughbreds recognizes the distinct advantage of being based at the Oak Ridge Training Center in Williston, Florida. And not only is it good for the horsemen, but for the horses too, when shipping to Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park.
“They’re used to the routine, and they come back [from Tampa Bay Downs] to their own stall here [at Oak Ridge Training Center],” said Jose. “In Miami, we ship about two days before the race, and then we ship back after the race. Tampa’s home for us; it’s really neat when we go to Tampa. We make it a family thing. My boys go with me, my wife. They [Tampa Bay Downs] have the best turf course in Florida. Tampa’s a great track and we’ve really done well at Tampa. We’ve been really fortunate with shipping straight off of this track. It’s been great.”
And Discreet Marq is far from being the only JC Thoroughbreds graduate to establish itself on the racetrack. A diminutive Generazio-homebred by Disco Rico, out of the Numerous broodmare Lulu’s Number, set a world record this spring at Belmont Park for six furlongs over a firm turf course in the Grade III Jaipur Stakes.
Disco Partner would win his first three starts after being transferred to the barn of Christophe Clement — the Elusive Quality, Jaipur and the Forbidden Apple. The multiple graded stakes-winning gray had been formerly conditioned by James Ryerson.
“We sent that horse up to Clement in mid-March for the first time,” said Jose. “The neat thing about Disco Partner is that he’s such a little horse. He’s maybe 15 hands, 15.1. He’s an unassuming horse. You look right over him, if you see him out on the track training.”
It’s that quiet confidence that set Disco Partner apart — he has both the talent and the character to be a stakes performer. The son of Disco Rico added to his impressive resume with a score in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational on Oct. 7 at Belmont Park, prompting the Generazios to supplement the 5-year-old horse to this fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
“You see this horse, and he’s not like the other graded stakes winners,” said Jose. “They come back very puffy, yelling and hollering, like Pure Sensation, it’s night and day. Disco Partner is the most professional horse I’ve ever seen. You send him down the track, and you start galloping him, and he moves a little bit.
“He’s small, but he moves. And then you start breezing him and you’re like, ‘this horse really has something.’ The horse has always impressed us. My dad was the one that always said, ‘this horse has a bigger heart than his body.’”