Over the Threshold and Before the Honeymoon | Topics: Bob’s Business, NY Breds, New York Breds, New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund

In the latest installment of his miniseries, New Yorker Robert D. Fierro reminisces about going from tax accountant to breeding analyst and breeding his first horse

The research your correspondent has put into the development of this series has led to the conclusion that 1981 was a turning point in the development of the New York Thoroughbred breeding program. Somewhat shockingly, you were really lucky to be part of the critical path connections.

That spring, your correspondent was asked to review a possible limited partnership plan that had been developed by attorneys and accountants for Raymond Karlinsky and Arthur Levien, two New York seniors who bred and raced a modest group of horses under the Bette name Karlinsky.

We were chosen because it was widely accepted in the financial world at the time that our best-selling book on tax breaks (as well as many related articles over the past half decade) gave us particular insight into evaluating such investments.

While their full-blooded exploits may have been modest, Ray and Arthur thrived in business for several decades. It’s widely accepted that Karlinsky “invented” the concept of reinsurance, which shook some parts of the financial world (Google it!)

Shopping for winners: Arthur Levein, a partner at Bette Karlinsky Racing Stable, was a former partner at discount department store chain EJ Corvette, founded in 1948Levien had been a partner in one of the country’s first discount department store chains, EJ Corvette, a name most New York City residents took to mean “eight Jewish Korean War veterans.” That wasn’t true, but Levien liked to laugh about it anyway.

family tree research

While Ray and Arthur were equal partners, Karlinsky was the stable’s manager and was closely associated in all aspects with trainer Warren Pascuma Jr. and was particularly interested in pedigree research, particularly when it came to European bloodlines.

This is because he spent a lot of time in Europe on business and frequently attended the races, where he was a strong and mostly very successful player. In fact, he claimed he was an occasional punt partner to betting pool king Robert Sangster before he even bought a horse, and they were sometimes joined by prominent equestrian Charles St George.

He often told a very funny (and profitable) story about how the three of them came up with a huge Yankee punt – a four horse combination multiple bet always popular in UK betting shops – and ended in a championship. old race after which one of them took home over £250,000.

In any event, the aforementioned meeting took place in a conference room at the law firm, where Raymond’s son Martin was with about half a dozen attendees in addition to the sponsors.

‘Sit down!’

When asked for my opinion on the deal, I simply replied that they would be lucky if this investment vehicle received support from Wall Street or federal regulators, and used a few choice adjectives to describe why I did thought so. The room stunned and I started gathering my things, knowing they weren’t happy, when Raymond boomed, “Sit down!”

By the end of the day, I had been hired as a special adviser to the partnership, including providing overall planning as well as pedigree advice, having at that point gained a modest reputation in the art as a blood stock analyst.

At the time of the meeting, the partnership mare, Winver (by Vertex), had just given birth to a colt by Norcliffe on a small farm on Long Island where the partners ran their breeding business. Although a reasonably correct filly, most partners’ advisers at the time recommended sending him to Florida yearling sales where he was essentially bought back and sent to Kentucky to be trained for a two year old sale. Over time he acquired the At The Threshold name and was eventually sold to WC Partee on the advice of his trainer Lynn Whiting.

At The Threshold quickly became a prominent member of his crop as a two-year-old, targeting the Kentucky Derby, something of a turning point for the New York program. In fact, the day before the 1984 Derby, New York Thoroughbred Breeders (NYTB) mailed a bumper sticker that read “New York Breeding is At the Threshold” to a wide cross-section of horse lovers.

Pure New Yorker

The stallion finished third behind Swale at Churchill Downs but achieved notoriety by becoming the first New York-bred stallion to win a black type in the Kentucky Derby. I sent Ray a bouquet of roses to congratulate him and Arthur and I called the next day to ask if he was sorry he sold the foal.

“Nah,” he said. “If I had kept him, he would have stepped in a hole and never raced.” Pure New Yorker.

This colt was no runaway – he became a good sire, producing among others Lil E. Tee, who confirmed his father’s legacy by winning the Kentucky Derby himself.

The At The Threshold saga opened the floodgates of hope for boarders and stallion owners across the state to prepare for potential new business.

I was very excited because in 1982, as a consultant, I discovered a two-year-old filly named Behind The Groove that Ray and Arthur had bred. She was knocked over in both races but had the guts to get going again.

Although they retired her as a spinster, I managed to lease her in 1983, resulting in her giving birth to a lanky gray colt in 1984 who would eventually be named Omar Khayyam. That was the first horse I ever bred and that qualified me to contend for NYTB board membership.

All of this would not have happened if there had not been another fortunate and fortuitous experience, also in 1981, but before my first encounter with Karlinsky and Levien. We will revisit this experience in our next chapter.

• Visit the New York Thoroughbred Breeders (NYTB) website.

Bob’s Business #3: Lucky and chance encounters with the makers

Bob’s Business #2: Much more than fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

Bob’s Business #1: How I met Steve Crist – then luck took over

Check out the latest TRC Global Rankings for horses/jockeys/trainers/sires


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