Let’s Go Stable Bryan Sullivan chats with ABR after Verrazano won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9.
Kevin Scatuorchio and Bryan Sullivan formed Let’s Go Stable in 2006 and one of their first yearling purchases, Ready’s Echo, went on to finish third in the 2008 Belmont Stakes. Let’s Go Stable won the 2012 Risen Star Stakes with El Padrino and the partnership is back on the Triple Crown trail again in 2013 with unbeatenTampa Bay Derby winner Verrazano. Verrazano is a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to El Padrino.
Scatuorchio and Sullivan got their first taste of Thoroughbred racing through Jim Scatuorchio, Kevin’s father and Bryan’s father-in-law, who raced 2007 champion turf male English Channel, Grade 1 winner More Than Ready and graded stakes winner Tale of the Cat.
For more on the history of Let’s Go Stable, click here.
Kevin Scatuorchio, 31, and Sullivan, 36, put together a formidable team for Let’s Go Stable investors with trainer Todd Pletcher, who conditions the stable’s horses; J.J. Pletcher, Todd’s father who prepares Let’s Go auction purchases for the racetrack; veterinarian Dr. Scott Hay, and pedigree consultant Alan Porter.
VERRAZANO DURING HIS MORNING WORK
Photo courtesy of Joe DiOrio
Sullivan and Kevin Scatuorchio took time out of their schedule before the big race to chat about managing the syndicate, the sport of horse racing and a handful of other topics.
What are some of the things that you’ve learned in the seven years since you started?
Sullivan: I know how hard this game is. I knew it was hard, but it’s not until you really get involved that you realize how hard it really is. To be essentially running your own business, it’s much different than going to work for a company and being an employee and you work Monday through Friday. When you have your own business like this, you’re working or constantly thinking about this seven days a week, 365 days a year. My wife is always saying, ‘Could you be present?’ You’re always trying to figure out how we can do this better or how we can do that better, so I think the experience of running this since 2006 has been invaluable and I would say that I’ve learned to take nothing for granted in this game.
What is your favorite moment in the sport?
Scatuorchio: The one that usually I recall being very impressionable moment in the sport was probably when my father won the King’s Bishop [Stakes (G1)] with More Than Ready.
I remember that being a very special race, when he won the King’s Bishop at Saratoga, I believe it was my father’s first Grade 1 win, so I remember that being a really special day. It stands out in the memory bank of races that he won.
Sullivan: For me, it would be the 2007 Breeders’ Cup with English Channel when he won the Turf – just being at Monmouth and finally getting him that win in his third try.
Do you have any ideas on how to build the fan base and grow the sport?
Sullivan: I know Kevin has some ideas. The one thing that we’ve tried to do in the last year is we’ve tried to use social media, which I think a lot of people in this game are embracing. We use Twitter all the time. I think it’s a good way for people, even if they don’t invest with us, to stay connected. If Verrazano works, we generally put up a Tweet fairly quick. Or if something important is happening with the stable we try to keep people up to date. I think things like that are bringing someone who maybe can’t own a horse but at least want to follow somebody … it brings them into the game so they can feel like part of the family. I think that’s pretty important. I think Kevin, one of his ideas is that high-definition needs to be embraced in the sport as well.
Scatuorchio: You know just as well as anyone some of the mistakes our industry has made over the past 50 years or so trying to grow the sport, but it feels like to me as far as high definition goes, how accessible and to my knowledge how valuable it is to anything, let alone a sport, I think it’s definitely something our industry needs to embrace and invest in. I know there are millions of dollars invested in trying to grow the fan base and countless groups researching this type of stuff and trying to figure out ways to grow our fan base, but I don’t think it should be too difficult to have HRTV and TVG broadcasting in HD. I think there are ways to probably build the fan base on the gambling end, probably some creative ways that could be tapped into to get more people interested in the sport through gambling.
You guys both are very familiar with Wall Street, and from what we always hear you can’t go into this sport looking to make a profit, it is a different type of industry that requires a passion for the sport and horse, would you agree?
Sullivan: It’s different; we sell this as a lifestyle investment to our investors. We try to maximize profits and returns, but we’re cognizant of the fact that these are four-legged animals and to a large extent it’s somewhat out of our control. Most of our investors have been great with that and most of them have been with us since 2006 when we started. I think that’s a testament to Kevin and I, with the communication and us trying to teach them the game, which is our responsibility.
What is it that makes this sport stand out as something that is so much fun to be a part of and something that you wanted to become so invested in emotionally and financially?
Sullivan: I am a very competitive person, that’s first and foremost. I mean, I love to compete. I almost compete in everything I do, so for me this is the ultimate. It’s such a tough game. When you’re winning at 25-percent, you are winning in this game. It’s kind of counterintuitive to a lot of things, so that’s kind of what drew me to this game.
When you win these big races, like when we won the Risen Star and had our investors down there, and then when you have a horse like Verrazano and you go through it together, it’s such a phenomenal ride when you share it with the people you care about, realizing how hard it is. Someone said it great, I think it was Eddie Plesa when he won the Holy Bull [Stakes (G3)] with Itsmyluckyday, I mean the highs and the lows in this game are so far apart, but the highs are just, you almost can’t get back there again they are so high. It’s that combination of that competitive nature I have and then that feeling you have when your high-fiving Todd or Kevin … it’s just an incredible feeling.
VERRAZANO WINNING HIS SECOND CAREER START AT GULFSTREAM
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
What is something the casual fan might not know about Todd Pletcher?
Sullivan: I think with Todd a lot of people have the misconception that he’s robotic. But he’s got a very good sense of humor and he is a lot more approachable than a lot of people think he is.
What is the best race you’ve ever seen?
Sullivan: Mine was Ghostzapper - he ran some of the freakiest races - in his Breeders’ Cup [Classic (G1)] win. He was just a very, very efficient mover.
Scatuorchio: I’m biased; so I would clearly say English Channel’s Breeders’ Cup [Turf] win.
Do you have a favorite horse, maybe one you really connected with?
Scatuorchio: Probably More Than Ready again, he was the beginning of it all for me.
Sullivan: Right now, it’s Verrazano. But you could go with More Than Ready, Scat Daddy or English Channel, they’re all kind of right there for different reasons.
What is your favorite track?
Sullivan: For me, Saratoga.
Scatuorchio: Yeah, Saratoga.
Are there other teams or sports that you follow?
Sullivan: We root against each other most of the time. I am a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan and a New York Rangers fan.
Scatuorchio: I am the typical New York fan on the side of the New York Giants, Rangers, Knicks, and Yankees.
What is the best non-Thoroughbred event that you ever attended?
Sullivan: Mine might be a Bruce Springsteen concert.
Scatuorchio: Springsteen is a good one.
Sullivan: Don’t be stealing my thunder.
Scatuorchio: You know what, I saw the Yankees, I was there when they won it in ’96. That was a pretty good one.
Sullivan: One more, I was there when [New York Rangers’ Mark] Messier guaranteed a win against the [New Jersey] Devils in Game 6 [of the 1994 NHL Eastern Conference Finals]. That was a pretty special game. They were down a game in Game 6 and Messier had a hat trick after he guaranteed a victory, so that was pretty cool.
What websites do you guys visit daily?
Sullivan: Anything with horses. I am a Paulick, Blood-Horse, DRF, Equibase reader. Outside of horses, I’m a big sports fan, so ESPN and things like that.
Scatuorchio: Besides LGSracing.com, all of the ones Bryan listed and I could give you my gambling website as well, but I don’t think that’s appropriate.
Who is your favorite musician or band?
Sullivan: I’m not a huge music guy, but I would go with Pearl Jam.
Scatuorchio: My favorite band, I’ll give you the default answer, Springsteen.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Sullivan: A Few Good Men for me.
Scatuorchio: Wow! Can you give me a genre? I’m actually a big movie fan, so I have a ton of movies. It’s impossible for me, so I’ll just come up with a really funny one we all like to watch. I’m one of those guys that quotes movies all the time, but I guess a family favorite is My Blue Heaven.
Verrazano: Italian explorer or bridge?
Sullivan: It’s funny. It actually was meant to be the bridge and we submitted it to The Jockey Club and they spelled it as the Italian explorer. So we actually had to have the name changed back to the bridge.