January 19, 2023
Adelphi Racing Club Profile - Bruce Steminsky
- How / when did your interest in racing come about?
I grew up in the Albany area and during the summer we had a fishing shack on Saratoga Lake. My father and I would spend parts of our summer there and go to the Saratoga Race Course every August. Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Harness are where my love of horses developed, along with my love of numbers. It also provided most of my bonding time with my father.
My parents separated when I was a baby and I was raised by my mother and grandparents. For much of my upbringing, I saw my father a couple of hours every few weekends. My father was a steelworker and, let’s be kind and say, was very cost conscious. He refused to pay for parking at the track so we parked on the side of the road between Yaddo and the on-ramp to the Northway for free (There are now “No Parking” signs all along that stretch which I feel is a direct result of my father). And since he did not want to pay for seats or drinks, we would schlep folding chairs and a cooler the half mile to the track entrance and back. But these were some of the best summers of my life and spending time with my father at Saratoga brought a lot of normalcy to our relationship.
- Favorite track and why?
I’m sure I am biased growing up near Saratoga but to me, there was and is nothing like the Saratoga experience. As a teenager my day started fishing or waterskiing with my cousins on Saratoga Lake, then a day at the races followed by an exciting match at the Saratoga Polo Club before wrapping it all up by enjoying the nightlife in downtown Saratoga. Fish-Waterski-Track-Polo-Downtown-Repeat. It’s too bad the Saratoga Polo Club is no more. When I was 18 I bought a membership to the Polo Club for $200. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the parking lot full of Mercedes, BMWs, Jaguars and me, 1982 Chevy pickup truck.
-Favorite horse and why?
I’ve seen a lot of incredible horses over the years but Cigar is a favorite of mine. 16 straight wins against top class competition. He retired to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington and on one of my trips through Kentucky I stopped to see him in person. Even though he had been retired for a number of years, he still looked like he had a few more wins in him.
- Best wagering score ( contest or at the windows)?
My best Pick 5 paid $7,772
-Key wagering strategy?
Don’t tell NYRA but I started wagering at the windows at age 13. As a teen I bet Win, Place and Exactas only because of my limited budget but I did well. The summer after graduating high school for example, the Saratoga Race Course paid for my college dorm furnishings (loft, stereo, small refrigerator, rug).
Now that I am old and unfortunately not wiser, I can’t pick a straight-up winner to save my life. I play Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5 and an occasional Pick 6 where I can spread a little on some of the legs in an attempt to overcome my shortcomings as a handicapper. I look for the traditional angles such as lone speed or third race off a layoff. With two year olds I look at the trainer’s first-time starter stats to see if the trainer typically has the horse ready for debut or if it takes a few races to get going. I also look at the horse pairings in the morning, because if the morning partner is very good, chances are this horse is good too.
- Best wagering story? (Win or lose)
In 2004, my business partner, his wife, his mother and I all chipped in and bought $1 superfecta tickets on the Kentucky Derby. We all had our methods for constructing our tickets, from analyzing the past performances to getting tips from professional handicappers to just picking lucky numbers. At the end of the race, Smarty Jones was the winner and we began checking all of our tickets that began with #15. Lo and behold, his mother had the winning sequence. The $1 superfecta paid $20,690.10.
My business partner and his mother went to the OTB in Hoosick to collect but were told that branch could not handle a payout that large and directed them to Albany. At the Albany OTB, they were taken to a special room where an OTB official counted out the winnings in cash. The OTB official then asked if she would like an escort to her car. With the $20,690 in hand, his 83 year old mother responded “No thank you. I’ll be fine.” And doddered out the door.
-What changes would you make to help our sport to grow ( handle and attendance)?
It is a great sport but it needs to attract young people and women to flourish. I think you need to make the wagering process less complex and more understandable to people. It is a lot easier to press a button on a slot machine or pick a sports team to win their game than it is to analyze page after page of the DRF and formulate a bet. Many fans are attracted to horse racing because of their love of horses. They care about the horses and want to know they are safe and well cared for, not only during their racing careers but in their post-race lives too. I also think racetracks can do a better job working together, such as spacing out their post times so two tracks don’t overlap their races, and offering multi-track wagers like the Cross Country Pick 5.
- Favorite jockey ?
I have a ton of respect and admiration for all of the jockeys. Their dedication to their craft, the passion and love they have for this sport while risking their lives every race is unbelievable.
In 1978, Steve Cauthen was my first favorite. Being 5 years older than me, he was very relatable to me, like an older brother. His stretch runs on Affirmed against Alydar are etched in my mind forever.
My next favorite is Angel Cordero Jr., the King of Saratoga. No one rode harder than Angel. Regardless of the odds, Angel made sure you got your money’s worth every time you wagered on him and his horse. I see Angel often at the Oklahoma track in the morning and I am still too in awe of him to approach him.
I could easily continue with Hall of Famers Jerry Bailey, John Velasquez, Mike Smith, Julie Krone, Lafffit Pincay Jr., Bill Shoemaker, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Gary Stevens, Jorge Velasquez, Jacinto Vasquez and fill this section with over 100 more names. The NYRA Jockey Colony and especially the riders we work with in Adelphi are the best in the world!
-Best moment as an owner?
What many would consider as simple moments have been so special to me. Getting my NYRA Horseowner credentials. The first time I came to the track in the morning to see one of my horses workout. The first time in the Saratoga paddock before a race to see our horse saddled brought a tear to my eye.
I love seeing the horses in their stalls and getting to know them, not just as tremendous athletes but also their unique personalities too. I appreciate the time spent with the extraordinary trainers, riders and workers that genuinely love these horses and care so much for them. The time spent in the barn is truly priceless to me.
I love being part of the Adelphi Racing Club. The comradery with our fellow racing partners and of course, the first time in the Winner’s Circle. All of these events have given us so much pleasure and the book is still being written. I actually think the best moment as an owner is still yet to come.
-What race would you like to win as an owner?
I think most people would choose the Kentucky Derby. Because of my love of Saratoga the Travers could be an obvious choice too but to be honest, winning any race at Saratoga would be an incredible feat and a dream come true.
- Toughest aspect of owning horses?
The thing I never anticipated is how nervous I get before a race. And the nervousness is not for me, it’s for the horse. I see how hard the horses work in the morning, how hard they try and I am nervous for them. I want them to run well for them. I want them to have a good race experience. I want them to show everyone who they are and what they are capable of doing. From the paddock until that gate pops open, I am nervous as hell for them.
-Favorite restaurant in Saratoga ( or any racetrack venue you frequent)?
Saratoga has many excellent restaurants and one of our racing partners, the Solevo’s, have one of the best. I am also a very good cook and one of my hobbies is making cookies for the trainers, riders, grooms and hot walkers Adelphi has horses stabled with.
- Favorite Breeders Cup Venue?
I went with Aldelphi this year to Keeneland and that was incredible. That was my first time in person at a Breeder’s Cup. I would think Santa Anita with the San Gabriel mountains as a back drop would be a very beautiful Breeder’s Cup venue. Hopefully some of our Adelphi horses will be making the trip there this fall.
- 3 Dinner guests from racing ( from any era )
I like storytellers and I think these three dinner guests would have a lot of stories to tell:
John Morrissey. Bareknuckle fighter, casino owner and one of the founders of Saratoga Race Course
D Wayne Lucas
February 03, 2023