Zivo is stepping up in class in the Woodward at Saratoga
In the final act of his former professional life, Joe Appelbaum picked a winner.
“The last thing I did in coaching,” says Appelbaum, “was recruit Victor Cruz to go to the University of Massachusetts. I’d been at five schools in seven years, from Hamilton College to Hofstra to Plymouth State to UMass. So I guess you could say, I went out on a high note.”
“Ever since I was a teenager, I was into the races,” says Appelbaum, who frequented Belmont Park and, during the summer, Saratoga Race Course. “I started out as a handicapper. Me and a group of my buddies liked to place some bets. Then, about 13 years ago, I claimed my first horse. One horse became two, became four, became too many.”
Appelbaum and his friends claimed their first horse for $50,000. Two weeks later, the horse was claimed by someone else for $75,000. And that’s how it all started.
“I bought another one,” Appelbaum recalls. “We won a race and we made some money and we bought more. It all happened organically. We were very focused on the racetrack at first. But after a few years, we did some pinhooking. We kind of fell into that by accident.”
“When I say we fell into pinhooking, well, we bought a horse with the intention of racing her, and when we sent her to Ocala, Florida, to be broken, it was highly-recommended that we sell her because it was believed we would make a lot of money—and we did,” Appelbaum says with a laugh. “We bought her for like $60,000, and we sold her for $500,000. And we took off.”
Appelbaum's partner, Carlos Morales, is a former trainer and the son of a prominent Venezuelan breeder and trainer. The two men own a training center in Ocala, Fla.
“We don’t do that much pinhooking anymore,” says Appelbaum. “We develop a lot of horses for the track and manage horses for folks. It’s a lot of fun. But it’s a very competitive sport and there are a lot of strong opinions. So there are a lot of nerves managing all that.”
Like Appelbaum, Zivo is a New Yorker through and through.
“Zivo was born here in New York five years ago at a farm called Keane Stud, [which is] upstate in Amenia,” Appelbaum says. “Almost all of his races have been against New York breds, so he’s put together an amazing record. He’s never finished out of the money. His last race, the Suburban, a Grade II race at Belmont over July 4th weekend, was his first race ever against [out-of-state] horses at the highest level. And he won by three and three-quarter [lengths]. Moreno, the horse that finished second, came back and won the Whitney at Saratoga [on Aug. 2]. We decided to pass on the Whitney and target the Woodward. So, Zivo’s been up at Saratoga since the Fourth of July, trying to get ready for this race. We have some butterflies.”
“I started buying horses with Joe in the mid-2000s, and I told him I wanted to buy a broodmare,” says Coleman. “That ended up being Zivo’s mom [American Skipper]. The first baby she had was premature and didn’t make it. We then bred [her to a stallion] named True Direction that Joe owned. It’s amazing. I’m an owner, raiser, gambler and fan. I’m sure none of the other horses in the Woodward were raised by a guy like me. I have a picture of my kids with Zivo when he was two years old.”
“If things go well,” says Appelbaum, before pausing. “I’m an old football coach and I never like to get a race ahead of myself ... Coach Belichick would be very disappointed in me right now. But if things go well, the next [Breeders' Cup Challenge] race in New York is the Jockey Club Gold Cup ... And the Breeders’ Cup would be a great event to be a part of.”
Appelbaum has had horses who have run in the Breeders’ Cup before. Pashito the Che ran in the Breeders' Cup Sprint in 2010. Two years later, Turbo Compressor ran in the Breeders' Cup Turf. “Both finished last,” says Appelbaum.
|date||network||time (et)||race||track||winner qualifies for||post times (et)|
|August 30||NBCSN||6:00 p.m.||Forego Stakes||Saratoga Race Course||Breeders' Cup Sprint||6:45 p.m.|
|September 27||NBCSN||6:00 p.m.||Jockey Club Gold Cup||Belmont Park||Breeders' Cup Classic||6:08 p.m.|
|September 27||NBCSN||6:00 p.m.||TBD||Santa Anita Park||TBD||6:30 p.m.|
|September 27||NBCSN||6:00 p.m.||TBD||Santa Anita Park||TBD||7:05 p.m.|
|September 27||NBCSN||6:00 p.m.||Awesome Again Stakes||Santa Anita Park||Breeders' Cup Classic||7:45 p.m.|
|October 4||NBCSN||4:30 p.m.||Jenny Wiley Stakes||Keeneland||Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf||4:35 p.m.|
|October 4||NBCSN||4:30 p.m.||Breeders' Futurity||Keeneland||Breeders' Cup Juvenile||5:08 p.m.|
|October 4||NBCSN||4:30 p.m.||Shadwell Mile||Keeneland||Breeders' Cup Mile||5:45 p.m.|
|October 5||NBC||5:00 p.m.||Bourbon Stakes||Keeneland||Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf||5:08 p.m.|
|October 5||NBC||5:00 p.m.||Spinster Stakes||Keeneland||Breeders' Cup Distaff||5:45 p.m.|