Talk about beginner's luck. The very first horse that Ronald Borgese owned is taking him to the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs Nov. 4. The horse's name is Nightmare Affair, but he's been a dream come true for his New York-based owner.
Borgese, 42, owns an electronics company in New York, and resides on the north shore of Long Island in the town of Nissequogue. Like many New Yorkers, Borgese has ties to Florida, but his is through Florida-bred Nightmare Affair, a 5-year-old son of Out of Place
--Beaux Arts Ball, by Black Tie Affair. After a season that has seen him win four of 10 starts, all the victories coming in stakes contests, Nightmare Affair will challenge a competitive field in the $2-million TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). He is a seasoned pro, having faced the starter 41 times in his career with 11 victories, 10 seconds, and nine thirds, and earnings of $852,464.
Less seasoned is Borgese, who entered the business with Nightmare Affair in 2003, when the horse won once in three starts. Borgese watched from an Off-Track Betting parlor on Long Island when his horse broke his maiden at Calder. "After he won the race, I was crying like a baby," Borgese said.
Racing exclusively in Florida throughout his career until a September foray to Saratoga, Nightmare Affair has managed eight victories with five seconds and four thirds in added-money events.
Borgese, who races in the name of Timber Side Stable, decided to sell Nightmare Affair privately during the summer of 2005, but the deal ultimately fell through. One year to the day later, Nightmare Affair won the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) at Calder on July 15, defeating Pomeroy, who is also planning to contest the Sprint. Pomeroy turned the tables in the Forego (gr. I) at Saratoga, topping Nightmare Affair, who finished sixth.
"To have the first horse I own get to the Breeders' Cup is very lucky," noted Borgese, who currently owns eight weanlings and yearlings. It's going to take some of that luck for Borgese to turn a profit at Churchill Downs, however, since Nightmare Affair had to be supplemented into the Breeders' Cup for $180,000. His trainer, Florida-based Manny Azpurua, saddled Extended Applause to a fourth-place finish in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
"I'm not afraid to take a big risk," Borgese said.
Looking to spread the risk just a bit, he is forming a racing partnership called Lucky Gambler Racing to race into the future. Unlike many, come Nov. 4 Borgese will be hoping to see his biggest Nightmare come true.