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Final Furlong gaining ground

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Established in 2009 by Vince Roth and Dan Zanatta, Final Furlong Racing Stable has come a long way in a short time despite its share of ups and downs.

Roth, a resident of East Rockaway, and Zanatta, of New Hyde Park, met as co-workers at Merrill Lynch in Garden City nine years ago and started their own racehorse partnership after a mostly frustrating experience with another. FFRS currently owns a percentage in 10 horses and is looking to continue the momentum from a highly successful 2013.

“We grew tired of the costs and management of the partnership we originally invested in,” Roth said. “We felt we could do a better job. We wanted to build a model around our business expertise and give fans of the sport access to what many feel is unattainable.

“We’ve learned a lot since we started and we’re really happy with the direction everything has been going for quite some time,” he added.

In the early stages of the partnership, FFRS was geared towards acquiring unraced New York-bred yearlings and two-year olds. The stable got off the ground by purchasing a 25-percent interest in each of two horses — Belso Wild and The Point Is. Belso Wild finished an impressive second in what would be the only race of his career on March 10, 2011. He suffered a lacerated tendon that never fully healed and ultimately led to his retirement. The Point Is failed to live up to potential and finished no better than fourth in eight starts before transposing to a jumping career for new owners.

“We had a stretch of bad luck and disappointment, but that’s part of racing,” Zanatta said. “It’s exciting to see the stable growing and thriving.”

In the summer of 2012, the general focus of FFRS expanded towards claiming established horses — in the range of 3-4 years old — and buying horses privately. “The stable was shrinking and we wanted more excitement,” Zanatta said. “We wanted to add active runners, and the claiming route was the easiest way to do it.”

FFRS struck paydirt with one of its early claims. Bobby Jo, a $15,000 purchase on March 20, 2013 earned $86,860 in seven starts for the group over the remainder of the calendar year. Bobby Jo finished in a dead-heat for first at Saratoga on Labor Day, giving FFRS one of its six winner’s circle photos on the year, and was in the money (top three) in all seven races. Another addition, River Boss, won twice in five starts and earned $45,230 before being claimed away, while Late Starter earned FFRS about $25,000 in just a week’s time.

“Our claiming success launched everything else and attracted new investors,” Zanatta said.

Howaboutwe, purchased privately, played a key role in the stable’s biggest day so far when he won, along with Currency Union, on Aug. 14 of last year at Saratoga. High Inflation finished second that same day as the stable totaled $92,200 in purse winnings.

“It’s always been our philosophy to constantly add horses and own a percentage of multiple horses instead of being all-in on one horse,” Roth said.

FFRS, which employs Bruce Brown, of Floral Park, and Jena Antonucci, of Elmont, as trainers, has branched off into several partnerships under the same umbrella. “Each partnership within Final Furlong has a different strategy,” Zanatta said.

Matthew Mangione, a Rockville Centre resident, said he’s always had an interest in the sport and called Zanatta after reading a groundbreaking story about FFRS three years ago.  

“I was looking for a hobby and an outlet,” said Mangione, now a managing member of FFRS. “It’s been a great experience. We’ve had some exciting moments, and I love spending time with the horses at the barn in the morning.”

Shares in FFRS are available starting at $2,000 for a three-percent interest. Each ownership share is billed quarterly for ongoing training and boarding expenses. All race earnings are distributed to partners on a pro-rated basis, used for future expenses, or to purchase additional horses. Shareholders can obtain an owner’s license through the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and gain access to the barn in addition to other perks.

For information, go to www.finalfurlongracingstable.com.