Through various contacts, I found out how to assemble a stable. One of those ways was going to John and Joseph Pon’s farm in Bel Air, Maryland; they were the breeders of Cigar in later years. Well, there, all you needed was a horse trailer and just sign a paper. They sold horses “on the cuff” which means that they supply the horse, you supply the training and expenses.
Winning purse money is split 50/50; a blessing for me and others. I went into the paddock and there were about twenty yearlings. A filly came ahead of the pack running up to us and snorted. I said, “I want her.” I loaded her on the trailer with another horse that a friend, Sam Cronk, a good trainer and horsemen had picked out. We were headed to the Derby! That’s the dream you must have to be successful in the horse business!
In the mean time, I acquired a few owner’s horses that other trainers didn’t want or need. I quickly put together a stable of about six owners. I contacted someone who would foot the bills on my picks, so I was getting paid per day money to train a horse. Life was good. I had no expenses except help and exercise boy money, but I made it. Raising a yearling is a long, expensive way to do it, but best way and worked out very well for me. I didn’t like the claiming business.
I inherited a horse called Young Swinger, a six-year-old cripple from a local owner, Sam Siple. I bought another filly for Siple at Dover Downs for $1500.00 Her name was No Justice. Her owner was shipping back to New England and needed shipping money. I had three horses ready to run. I also bought another cheap horse, Oldfield Cove, from George Strawbridge, and another from King Ranch, her name was Straight Squall. I got a filly from Country Life Farm who I named Way With Words. I loved that filly, she was by Mitey Prince. I bought two Northern Dancers from Winfield Farm for $10, 000. I had another beautiful gelding called Ivy League, that Buck Petrillo’s brother, Denny Petrillo of Shell Pot Trucking Company owned. He also sent me a gelding named Wizo Bay. The other Northern Dancer gelding was Premier Danseur.
I had more horses, I got a yearling from my doctor, Dr. Rolando Najera called Rajima. He ran the same time as a horse called Wajima; Rajima had Ribot breeding, he was by Alto Ribot who stood in Maryland. I had another, named The Cop, owned by a local pharmacy owner, Tony Syndowski, a really good man and quite a handicapper.
In those days, I was at Sunview Farm Training Center. Dover Downs had opened its gates for first time and called me a couple of days before and asked if I could run No Justice in a three-and-a- half sprint. I said no because I had to give her a break as she had lounged for seven days with no works. Dover called three times and said they needed to fill the card and needed her badly. My brother Howard, the farm training center and farm manager, said, “Put her in. A horse can run a half-mile fresh out of the field.”
Well, I entered her, she blew them away going wire-to-wire and paid a short price, the racing game was easy…my career as a trainer had taken off.