NY Final Furlong Racing Stable zeroes in on New York-bred fillies
by Ryan Martin
Dan Zanatta and Vince Roth launched NY Final Furlong Racing Stable syndicate in early 2012 with a focus on buying, racing and breeding New York-bred fillies and mares. Nearly a decade later, their innovative thinking has paid significant dividends.
“Looking at the average price, fillies are typically less expensive, which is one reason we went that route,” Zanatta said. “Another reason is based off residual value. We’ve gone on to sell our black type winners and started our own broodmare band."
NY Final Furlong Racing Stable [NY Final Furlong], which currently encompasses nearly 60 partners, provides a variety of offerings, including a traditional partnership for a single horse where the price includes the standard fixed expenses. Partners are billed quarterly once the horse reaches racing age; and purse winnings are distributed based off the horse’s earnings.
Claiming partnerships are assembled quickly for partners wanting immediate action. Generally, horses claimed by NY Final Furlong are ones with a pedigree suitable to make a broodmare prospect upon retirement.
While many syndications are racing-only, NY Final Furlong offers a view of the bloodstock aspect of the business, including breeding and pinhooking, which is the buying and reselling of a horse. Mares acquired in NY Final Furlong partnerships will drop their foals in New York state. While the breeding partnership is open to anyone, it is first offered to current members.
Zanatta said affordability and residual value are positive aspects for purchasing fillies at yearling sales, but doing so in a regional market such as New York makes for a higher probability of success.
“We started out buying one or two yearlings every year and now we’re buying four or five. Last year, there were a little over 600 New York-breds born and roughly 300 of them were fillies,” Zanatta said. “If we have anywhere from three-to-five fillies in every crop, then the odds of having a maiden special weight winner, an allowance or a stakes horse are better as opposed to open company. Of those 300 fillies, 200 are commercially viable, so the dynamics are pretty good.”
Zanatta said their strategic model has been successful for NY Final Furlong and its partners.
“The strategy is working,” Zanatta said. “Every year for the past three years, we’ve had a black type winning 2-year-old or a stakes winner. We’ve been able to keep that streak going. With our trainers’ feedback, we’ve been able to buy better and better 2-year-olds every year.”
The New York-bred program provides incentive awards administered by the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund Corporation for participants who own and breed thoroughbreds foaled in New York and provide purse enhancements for races restricted to New York-breds.
Last year, breeders, owners and stallion owners in the program earned over $8.8 million in awards. Additionally, over $1 million in purse enrichment was made to NYRA and Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack.
“NY Final Furlong Racing Stable is a prime example of a syndicate achieving success by competing in the top circuit in racing with New York-breds,” said New York Thoroughbred Breeders Executive Director Najja Thompson. “The purses tendered for New York-bred races was over $28 million in 2020, in which we lost three months of racing, and New York-bred races represent more than 30 percent of all races run at NYRA annually. Highlighted by our three all New York-bred Showcase Day cards during the Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course meets, there are numerous opportunities to earn with New York-breds in the state.”
Zanatta and Roth were initially involved in other partnerships. Both partners come from a finance and accounting background, and have blended their trade skills with their syndicate experience.
“We got to step back and watch what worked, what didn’t work and what could be done better,” Zanatta said. “From buying horses, watching them train and what trainers we liked. We both grew up and live on Long Island, so we wanted to come up with something on our own centered around New York-breds.”
Zanatta and Roth met nearly 15 years ago when the former worked as an intern at Merrill Lynch. After noticing how much Roth loved racing, Zanatta said he wanted in on the action.
“This is entirely Vince’s fault,” Zanatta said, with a laugh. “Vince owned fractional shares of horses with other ownerships. When I saw win pictures on Vince’s wall in his office, I said, ‘I need to get involved’. We both worked in banking, so we wanted it to make economic sense. We came from humble beginnings and grew every year since.”
Roth said he wanted NY Final Furlong to provide its partners and their families a good experience.
“One thing we really wanted to make was something similar to a country club feel,” Roth said. “When you join a country club, you can play golf, tennis, go swimming, and you go there because you’re there with people and families who like the same kind of stuff. Going to the track with a group is like the country club feel. We want all of our members to feel like they own 100 percent. People take their kids out, pet the horse, feed it a carrot and have a great time.”
The desire to offer partners and their families the best experience possible is one reason why they employ trainers Christophe Clement and Jorge Abreu.
“They are both super welcoming to anyone that shows up,” Roth said. “When people bring their families, and they welcome partners with open arms and they make everyone feel right at home. Christophe once spent the whole morning with one of our partners and they spoke high volumes of him. To have two guys that are as welcoming as they are is paramount.”
Roth said NY Final Furlong partners can also derive excitement from an investor’s perspective by getting involved in a pinhooking partnership.
“There are other avenues to profit,” Roth said. “It’s not as exciting as watching the horse turn for home, but when you’re watching the board light up at the sale thinking you’re getting $100,000 for a horse and end up getting more, your heart starts racing.”
NY Final Furlong’s most successful horse has been Espresso Shot, a stakes-winner at ages 2, 3, 4, and 5 and is still in training. The 5-year-old state-bred daughter of Mission Impazible was bought by Final Furlong for $69,000 from the 2017 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Yearling Sale and has amassed nearly a half-million in earnings through a record of 21-5-3-2 for Abreu.
Owned in partnership with Maspeth Stables and Parkland Thoroughbreds, Espresso Shot opened new doors for NY Final Furlong, allowing the syndicate to build on their broodmare program. Two years after buying Espresso Shot, they acquired her dam, Glory Gold, in foal to Firing Line.
“Because of Espresso Shot, we’ve been able to expand the broodmare partnerships even more,” Zanatta said. “She also is throwing some hard-knocking New York-bred runners. Right before Espresso Shot earned black type, we bought her mare in foal for $13,000 and created the partnership around that. We’ve captured a lot of value behind that mare.”
The versatile Espresso Shot will look to add to her impressive ledger with an upcoming start against fellow state-breds at Saratoga in either the nine-furlong $100,000 Saratoga Dew Handicap on August 12 or the 6 1/2-furlong $100,000 Union Avenue Handicap on August 19.
In late 2019, NY Final Furlong acquired Espresso Shot’s half-sister Goldtown, who was initially campaigned by Hall of Famer Mark Casse and was a sale-topper at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred Yearling Sale.
“She was entered for a $16,000 tag at Woodbine. We decided to claim her as a broodmare, but lost a three-way shake. She won three allowances races after that,” Zanatta said. “We saw she was entered in the  Keeneland November Sale, called up the owners, and made an offer privately. We raced her once ourselves and then retired her as winter approached. We created a breeding partnership around her, and she’s the third broodmare in our band.”
Roth said he and Zanatta are both appreciative of the lucrative New York-bred program and could be involved once more at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Yearling Sale slated for August 15-16 in Saratoga.
“The New York-bred program gives massive incentives to race and breed in New York,” Roth said. “When we win a race, we enjoy the win. Almost everyone I talk to after the race will say, ‘Oh wait, we get a check for this, too’. Money is the last thing they think about when watching their horse race. While partaking in this country club atmosphere, they get a check in the mail. People are so happy to get such an experience and also a monetary award on top of it.”
In addition to bringing people together with a common passion for horseracing, Zanatta and Roth have also incorporated their affinity for beer and bourbon.
“We always wanted to compliment an offering with something fun,” Zanatta said. “One year, we had a bonus where if you bought a partnership, you got a share of a barrel of bourbon. With our [stakes-placed] filly Summer Brew, Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga brewed multiple cases of beer and everyone who partnered on the filly got a case of beer. Not because we had to do it, just because it was fun. It was a cool combination.”
Roth said NY Final Furlong also engaged in a partnership with Hillrock Distillery, a bourbon distributor in upstate New York south of Saratoga.
“Having those common connections outside of racing is nice. I love beer and bourbon, Dan does too, we also love horses,” Roth said. “We do try to have a lot of fun outside, in addition to, at the track. We don’t do advertising on television, so that’s our version of advertising.”
Brandon Skop is invested in several NY Final Furlong horses, including Espresso Shot, alongside his brother Nolan and father, Ronnie.
“Dan and Vince treat everyone the same regardless of how much of one horse or multiple horses they own. When a big decision is being made, there’s lots of communication about it in a way that is very healthy,” Skop said. “They have a finance background which allows them to really make sure they’re buttoned up in terms of expenses. There’s never a question of where the money is going or who receives it. They keep a very detailed account of every dollar in and every dollar out.
“The day after my son [Meyer] was born, I got a text from Vince. It’s a family first operation that also puts the horse first,” Skop added.
Clement said he appreciates the NY Final Furlong model.
“If you’re stabled in New York, it makes a lot of sense. You just win more races that way,” Clement said. “We train for people who like to win, the more wins the better. They’re very straightforward with us. They are great to train for because we both have the same goal in mind.”
Brandon Rice, who operates RiceHorse Stables alongside his wife Aly DeMeric, is involved in the selection, breaking and layup of NY Final Furlong horses.
“They have a nice pipeline of horses,” Rice said. “They do things well within their means and keep a high-performance stable. The whole system is interesting from my perspective. They come from a banking background, and the professionalism they have in banking is the exact same with their syndication.”
Despite racing primarily in New York, NY Final Furlong has garnered partners in all sections of the country.
“We figured our partners would just come from this area,” Roth said. “But we’ve had partners in Kansas, California, Nevada, lots of Florida, Vermont, Georgia, and really all over the place.”
Zanatta said the growing NY Final Furlong syndicate is far from the home stretch of their journey.
“We are integrated and active in all aspects of the business,” Zanatta said. “I would love to be a mini-Phipps Stable at some point.”