The Saratoga Race Course experience is powerful—powerful enough to bring a Brooklyn attorney into the Thoroughbred owner fold.
Anthony Bonomo, whose Brooklyn Boyz Stables is one of the partners in Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming, said his first trip to Saratoga Springs, N.Y.—a visit that was his wife Mary Ellen's idea—drew him into the sport.
"My wife grew up near Belmont Park with a dad who loved horse racing," Bonomo said. "She used to go with him to the track. She was begging me to go up to Saratoga and I never wanted to go. Being from Brooklyn, that was like the other end of the world.
"I finally went and I just fell in love with it. Saratoga is a magical town when racing's not going on. I didn't know how neat Saratoga was. Then with the track running, it's really unbelievable.
"So we were sitting there and I thought, 'This is pretty cool.' Then my wife, she said the magical words, 'I'd really like to own a racehorse.' I said 'Really?' She said 'Yes, but I don't know how you do it.'
"That was the second race of the day. Then by the last race, Brooklyn Boyz was born. We had our silks picked out—the colors—we were fingerprinted, licensed, and a week later we bought two horses.
"In one day we did everything but buy the horses. We did that a week after."
Bonomo races as Brooklyn Boyz and his wife also races horses as MeB Stables. Bonomo said he's thrilled to be at the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) with a top contender.
"Growing up in Brooklyn, our only experience with horses were the ones pulling fruit carts, and now we're in this race," Bonomo said "You can't even describe it."
Bonomo's 29-year-old son Anthony Jr. has also fallen in love with the sport, working for a time as an assistant trainer. He did the bidding by phone on Always Dreaming, who sold for $350,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. Steve Young signed the ticket for the horse that was bred by Santa Rosa Partners and consigned by Dromoland Farm.
"My son was doing the bidding. I was working. I gave him the budget and thank God he went over it," Bonomo said. "I could tell you that two years ago, on the day we bought the horse, I was really upset. You flash forward two years and I can't kiss him enough. He has a keen eye."
Bonomo said owning horses has been something his entire family has enjoyed.
"In today's world, there's not a lot of stuff that brings families together. There's a lot that moves them apart. For our family, this has been magical," Bonomo said. "There’s not a day that we're not on the phone talking about a horse that's running or something that's going on."