Archives for January 2012


HALLANDALE, FL. Readers of this blog and my Blood-Horse articles know that I am a strong proponent of racehorse partnerships because of their ability to bring new owners into racing. Some people who begin with a partnership eventually become sole owners, while others prefer to stay with the partnership format. Many partnerships make ownership affordable to folks who do not have deep pockets.

Recently, Kostas Hatzikoutelis, vice president of Dream Team Racing, invited me to explore a partnership up close by visiting Palm Meadows Training Center to watch two of the Dream Team Racing colts—in training with Dale Romans–work 5/8ths of a mile. I did so this past Friday and then joined Jim Culver, president of Dream Team Racing, and Kostas at Gulfstream Park on January 28 to view Mucho Macho Man compete in the $400,000 Florida Sunshine Million Classic Stakes. Dream Team Racing and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing own this 4-year-old colt. Mucho Macho Man finished third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and was the only colt to contest all three Triple Crown Races.

I spent several hours with the Dream Team Racing partners in their suite and then went with them to the paddock. We watched the race from the Gulfstream apron in front of the starting gate.

Ramon Dominguez placed the 2-1 (second choice in the betting) Mucho Macho Man just off the pace-setting Turbo Charger for the first mile at which time he seized the lead and then held off a late-closing Ron the Greek by 1 ½ lengths in a time of 1:47.96 for the 1 1/8 miles. Trainer Kathy Ritvo had him in top shape and he looked the part of a sleek and muscular racehorse.

When Mucho Macho Man was about to cross the finish line, the men and women from the Dream Team and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing groups erupted in a huge ovation and celebration. Kostas Hatzikoutelis jubilantly grabbed Jim Culver in a headlock that looked to come straight from the World Wrestling Entertainment repertoire.

The Dream Team Racing partners hail from all walks of life, from various age groups, and from diverse geographical locations. A common trait is that they are obviously enthusiastic racing fans. Jim Culver and Kostas Hatzikoutelis are astute business people, but they do not depend on the Dream Team partnerships for their livelihood. They are most of all racing fans and their affection for racehorses and horse racing is evident. The way they treat their partner-investors is exemplary, carefully answering questions with the utmost respect.

In the months ahead, Horse Racing Business will occasionally present a question and answer dialogue with some racing-partnership executives. The first one will be with Dream Team Racing, sometime in February or March.

Copyright © 2012 Horse Racing Business


David Milch has been attending horse races for over six decades and as a Thoroughbred owner his charges have won two Breeders’ Cup races. He also is the creator and writer of the blockbuster television series NYPD Blue and Deadwood.

Milch’s current project is an HBO nine-episode series called Luck that premiers on January 29, 2012 at 9 PM EST. The show focuses on life around a racetrack. The characters include owners, trainers, jockeys, and gamblers. The cast has well-known actors like Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, as well as former jockey Gary Stevens, who was in the movie Seabiscuit.

There was reportedly some conflict between Luck’s creator/writer Milch and the show’s acclaimed executive producer Michael Mann over how much the series should use the jargon of the racetrack. Mann feared that too much adherence to the special language and cultural nuances of the racetrack would risk losing the audience, whereas Milch wanted a close approximation of the real thing.

The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch presented a preview of the series, wherein reporter John Jurgensen called the program “slow-moving.” He said it will “try viewers’ patience” because of the racetrack lingo. However, another reviewer said that the series begins to move faster in episodes three and four, once the characters and setting have been established for the audience.

Readers of horse-racing websites like this one tend to underestimate just how arcane the world of the racetrack can be for people who are outsiders. While it is easy for a neophyte to understand that the objective in horse racing is to come home in front of the pack, handicapping is a much different matter. First-time racetrack attendees are apt to wonder about references to furlongs, maiden special weights, and bugs—and possibly never come back. Similarly, as the recent Jockey Club/McKinsey & Company study vividly illustrated, the intricacies of betting online can be an intimidating turnoff for newcomers.

While Luck is intended for entertainment, it may provide education about horse racing to many people who know little or nothing about the sport–and thereby stimulate some viewers’ interest in visiting a racetrack or watching racing on television. However, Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic wrote (see below for the link) that the series paints a wrong and dishonest picture of horse racing (and thus could be a deterrent to creating fan interest).

Here is hoping that Luck is a big winner in the ratings! Thanks, Mr. Milch for taking a chance.

Click here to access the Luck homepage.

Click here for the Wall Street Journal MarketWatch video that reviews Luck.

Click here to read a negative view of Luck by Andrew Cohen from The Atlantic.

Copyright © 2012 Horse Racing Business


WELLINGTON, FL. This small city in Palm Beach County has long been associated with the equestrian lifestyle and equestrian sports like hunting/jumping, dressage, and polo. 2012 is the 33rd year for Wellington’s Winter Equestrian Festival.

In 2006, businessmen Mark Bellissimo, Dennis Dammerman and Roger Smith—and their wives—formed a partnership to transform Wellington into the premier equestrian community in the world, where both horse owners and spectators can enjoy equine sports. Later, the partnership was expanded to include 20 families, who so far have invested more than $200 million. (An antigrowth group has emerged to oppose this ambitious vision.)

Outside the 500-acre showgrounds, the Wellington community is dotted with small horse farms and impressive-looking residential areas. The International Polo Club is nearby, where polo matches are held from early January through late April.

The Breeders’ Cup can only wish that it could attract the international participation that the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington does. The three-month event—January through March–typically draws more than 5,000 horses and 2,800 riders from 49 states and 30 countries. When one walks around the well-kept grounds, you can hear a potpourri of languages and see the flags of diverse nations on display in the multiple show arenas and at the barns.

Vendors in tents and buildings offer a variety of clothing, food, and horse accessories.

Another area in which the Wellington events excel is in attracting corporate sponsors, with a vast number and array of companies represented.

Horse-racing leaders like Will Farish and the aforementioned Dammerman are involved with the Wellington equestrian scene. Moreover, some of the most prominent trainers in Thoroughbred racing got their start with horses and events like those on display in Wellington. For example, Roger Attfield, James Day, Rodney Jenkins, and Michael Matz were once exceptional riders of jumpers and C. V. Whitney and Farish were accomplished polo players.

If you are in South Florida, a trip to Wellington is well worth the trip. Consult these websites for the calendar of events and information for visitors: Equestrian Sports Productions and International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Copyright © 2012 Horse Racing Business