April 13, 2023
My name is Marty Fox, I grew up on Long Island, live in new Hyde Park (not far from Belmont), and practice Ophthalmology for Northwell in Great Neck. Married to my wife Susie for almost 50 years, with 4 adult kids and 5 (soon to be 6) grandkids.
How did my interest in racing come about?
I’ve been going to the racetrack since I was a child - my grandfather had a box at Saratoga and would spend the month of August there (staying at the Gideon Putnam) - it was his favorite place in the world. We would go up there, stay at Lake George, and go to the track with him. (You’ll see pictures of me and my brother at Saratoga in 1959, ages 7 and 5). I loved the horses, the jockeys, the Hand melons, the whole atmosphere. I grew up in East Meadow, a stone’s throw from Roosevelt Raceway. I had a good friend in High School who was also into the horses - we would go to the trotters every weekend, betting our $2 a race, trying to pass for 21 at the age of 16 - they took our money. Went to my first Belmont Stakes in 1969, watching Arts and Letters beat Majestic Prince. Took a road trip from college (Cornell) to Louisville to see the Kentucky Derby in 1970 - couldn’t see much from the infield but had a great time. I loved Personality, who ran as an entry with High Echelon, but Dust Commander won in an upset. Of course, Personality went on to win the Preakness and High Echelon the Belmont, when I wasn’t there to bet on them. I Took my fiancée (now wife) to her first horse race in 1973 - to watch Secretariat win the Triple Crown (she doesn’t love racing as much as I do, but certainly enjoyed that day). Missed racing when we moved away from NY for my medical training (no tracks in Milwaukee), but since we moved back to NY in 1983 I love going to Belmont (Aqueduct not as much), haven’t missed the Belmont Stakes, and try to get to Saratoga at least 1 or 2 weekends every summer.
Saratoga - there’s no place like it, love that it hasn’t changed much since I went there as kid, I can feel my grandfather’s spirit there - last time I saw him, he was in the hospital and I asked how he was - he said “this sure the hell isn’t my box at Saratoga”
Secretariat, the greatest I ever saw - Erinsouthernman, the first horse I owned - and Seattle Fitz, the best horse I owned
How I got into ownership?
For my 50th birthday, knowing my love of racing, my teenage daughter suggested buying me a racehorse as a birthday present. She asked how much it would cost - I said a good horse can be very expensive, she asked how about a not-so-good horse? I had heard commercials for Westpoint Thoroughbreds on WFAN radio, so I called and was put in touch with Adelphi’s own Rich Cristiano. He sent me a booklet of horses for sale, and I picked Erinsouthernman, mainly because I liked the trainer, Rick Violette. For my birthday, family and friends chipped in (and I footed the bill for the rest) to buy 5% of him, and 2 weeks later I went to Saratoga to watch his first race. It was incredibly exciting when my first horse demolished a stellar field of 2 year olds in a maiden special weight. His next race was the Champagne Stakes, where he came in third in a good effort, and Elliot Walden of Winstar Farms offered $500,000 for 75% of him after the race. I voted not to sell ( it was my birthday present), but wiser heads prevailed (I learned to “always take the money”). They were right - he injured himself the next year and was never the same. But I took the profits from the sale and immediately bought more horses, including Seattle Fitz, who won the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap. I was super lucky my first few years of ownership - I once had 5 winners in 1 week. My luck has tailed off the past few years, but I’ve had over 40 wins and a lot of fun over the past 20 years with Westpoint, Sovereign, and Laderer Stables. When I saw Rich was now working with Adelphi, I contacted him and bought in. Matt has built a great organization, I’ve had my first win with Royal Poppy, and I’m looking forward to many more.
Best wagering score/best wagering story?
Years ago I attended a charity dinner for B.E.S.T., the backstretch employees organization. I was seated next to Tom Albertrani, who was super nice and great to talk to all evening. As I was leaving, he asked if I was going to Belmont the next day - I said no, I had to work. He said too bad, I said why, he said 9th race. I looked and saw he had a first time starter in the 9th race. I saw Rick Cristiano as I was leaving and told him Tom Albertrani just gave me a tip - he told me he was sitting with Kieran McLaughlin, who said he had 2 sure things running the next day as well. I rarely bet the pick 6, but I saw the 3 horses were running in different legs of the Pick 6 so I ran to the track on my lunch hour (no betting on phones in those days, luckily I live and work near Belmont) and bet the Pick 6 singling those 3 horses plus picking 4 horses in each of other 3 races (and had win bets as well) - they all came in and I cashed nearly $5,000.
Later I saw Kieran and told him it was lucky I attended that dinner, I planned on donating more money to B.E.S.T. - he said (jokingly, I think) B.E.S.T.? What about me? I gave you the tips!
Key wagering strategy?
I generally prefer vertical wagering - exactas and trifectas - to horizontal wagering. I never seem to win Pick 4’s or Pick 5’s, always manage to come in second in one race. I look at past performances carefully, try to figure the race flow, and go more by trainers than jockeys. Another reason I prefer vertical wagering is that if I’m at the track, I like to look at the horses in the paddock and see who looks ready to go, on their toes, and who looks washed out or dull.
I was always a big fan of the late Rick Violette, who trained my first horse and several others I owned. Also a big fan of Tom Albertrani and Kieran McLaughlin, who trained horses I owned and were always great to deal with. Obviously, now rooting for Christophe Clement and Ray Handal, training my horses for Adelphi.
Losing wagering story?
a few summers ago I had a big bet on one of Tom Albertrani’s horses at 50-1. The horse won, but my excitement was short lived when he was DQ’ed for what looked like a minor infraction. My buddy, who was with me that day, sent me a framed copy of the race chart as a gift - it’s hanging on the wall in my basement.
in my youth, my favorite was Eddie Belmonte (who rode Personality). Love Richard Migiore, who rode Seattle a Fitz to his biggest wins. Also Eibar Coa, who rode several of my horses. I think all the jockeys are incredible - when I visited the barns with Matt, I met Katie and Dylan Davis, who were so nice that I find myself rooting for them even if they’re not on my horses.
Best moment as an owner?
Definitely Erinsouthernman winning and me being in the winner’s circle at Saratoga the first time I had a piece of a horse as an owner. I could feel my grandfather looking down at me.
What race would I like to win as an owner?
Most people would say the Kentucky Derby - I actually had a piece of a horse in the Kentucky Derby, Winning Impression with Westpoint. Unfortunately, it was the pandemic year, so no fans allowed, not as exciting as it could have been, and he ran up the track. I actually think I’d like to win the Belmont, at my local track and the race I have consistently gone to all these years.
Toughest aspect of owning horses?
It has to be when a horse you own gets injured - they’re huge but can be so fragile, and it’s always tough to see these magnificent animals get hurt. Sometimes racing gets bad publicity because of this, but everyone that I’ve dealt with in racing has put the welfare and best interest of these equine athletes first.
Favorite restaurant in Saratoga?
Used to love Mio Posto and Beekman Street Bistro, now both sadly gone. Best meal I had in Saratoga last summer was at Hamlet and Ghost.
Favorite Breeder’s Cup venue?
Santa Anita - beautiful setting, and I’ve been there twice and made a lot of money both times. Would like to see Breeder’s Cup come back to Belmont some day.
3 dinner guests from racing?
Would loved to have met Max Hirsch - Triple Crown winning trainer and my grandfather’s good friend. A few years ago we were eating at Beekman Street Bistro in Saratoga and Allen Jerkens and Todd Pletcher were eating together at the next table - would have liked to join that table.
What would you do to help sport grow?
I fell in love with racing as a kid, you’ve got to get young people interested - it’s difficult now with so many other things competing for their attention. I tried with my kids, they were never interested. When I’m watching racing on TV, they always ask me if the brown horse is winning. Even my youngest daughter, who suggested getting me a horse in the first place, wasn’t that into it. She was not happy when I woke her up at 6am to watch Seattle Fitz train at Belmont (she was 18). As we were standing at the rail, Artie Magnuson, the assistant trainer came up to us and told my sleepy daughter “what a great idea you had to get your dad a horse for his birthday!” She replied “I should have gotten him a tie”