John Abato, 57, is a NY-Bred, born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn. He now lives with his wife Lori in Wyckoff, NJ, with vacation homes in Murrellís Inlet, SC, and Cape Cod, MA. John has been around horses as an owner since 1984 (harness) and thoroughbreds since 1994. He has had horses with trainers Linda Rice since 2006, and also with Rick Violette, Charley Carey, Kate Demasi, Linda Toscano, Jack Moiseyev, and Nick Sodano. Johnís day job is and has been related to technology for 35 years, mostly with financial service firms (currently with Citigroup). He loves to travel, works to live and pay bills, loves vacation time, and always spends as much time as possible at Saratoga Racecourse during the racing season. The rest of the year is spent golfing and/or at Cape Cod. John, an avid golfer, plans on retiring to South Carolina to do more of the same. He loves music (eclectic song list) and movies (almost anything worthwhile and entertaining). John joined the TGC in 2012 and has purchased units of interest in our TGC Stables XX & XXI, LLCs.
Questions & Answers with John Abato:
Nickname? Abbott (yes, as in Costello fame)
Childhood Hero? Mickey Mantle
Favorite food? Real Bar-B-Cue, smoked low and slow
Favorite restaurant? Too many, but two of them are Sticky Fingers & Biminiís in Myrtle Beach, SC
Three dinner guests? Tough one; maybe retired NFL quarterback Kenny Stabler, trainer Allen Jerkens, Warren Buffet.
Favorite cocktail? Guinness Beer
Favorite ice cream? Coconut
Favorite movie? The Great Escape
Favorite actors? Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, & Paul Newman
If a Movie was made about you, what would be the name of the movie and which actor would play you? Livin'. Any of the actors above
Favorite TV show? Modern Family
Favorite book genre? Espionage and Suspense. My favorite authors are Ludlum, DeMille and Grisham
Last book read? The Lion's Game
Favorite music? 60ís and 70ís Rock ní Roll
Favorite vacation spot? The Spaaaaaaaaaaa
Last vacation? Cape Cod
Where would you want to go but haven't been? Ireland
Do you have any tattoos? If so, of what and where? Absolutely not, unless you count bad beats in poker!
What car do you drive? Milan
Perfect day? At Saratoga. Breakfast from the Post Deli at 7:15 am. Box seats for the Saratoga Sunrise morning workouts listening to Mary Ryan-Hirsch until 9:20. Walk over to the barns and then back to our regular spot in the Saratoga backyard by 10 am, read the program until the first race, hit a big Triple, hang around and party in the park till 7, dinner somewhere in town, walk around and listen to the live music, back at our motel by 11 pm, sleep till 6 am and then do it all over again!
Ambition? Retire ASAP
Hobbies? Horses, Golf, Casinos, Beach and Surfing the Web
First job? At a bowling alley in Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY handing out bowling shoes and then working at the counter, fixing machines and ultimately running the front desk on weekend nights
One thing you CAN'T live without? Roma's deli hero
One thing you CAN live without? Hearing the races are off the turf at Saratoga
The last thing you bought? A cup of coffee at Au Bon Pain
And the best thing you ever bought, borrowed or stole? Cape Cod house
Favorite Sportís Team?NFLís Oakland Raiders
Favorite athlete outside racing? Kenny Stabler
Proudest moment? Winning my first race at the Spa
One word to describe your life? Challenging
How did you get involved in racing? My father was an old fashioned gambler, but when OTB first opened my friends and I dabbled with harness racing. In a few years I hopped the car to Aqueduct and got hooked on thoroughbreds. I worked with an old timer who had owned many harness horses, so that was my in and we stayed in harness racing for 10 years before getting into thoroughbreds
First horse purchased? Fleeting Frost, a harness horse, at Pompano Park in 1984. He won his first race for me.
What aspect of racing appeals to you the most? Turf, turf, turf
Best horse race you ever saw? Forego winning the Marlboro Cup while I bet on Honest Pleasure who finished second losing in a photo. I still think Honest Pleasure won! Sadly there are no more Foregoís
Best horse? Favorite - Ruffian. As an owner - Jet Laag.
Favorite racetrack? Saratoga Racecourse
Favorite racetrack story? My first day at Aqueduct; hit the double, then hit the third race at 9-1 with Chuck Balthazar (Bid To Win) only to have him disqualified, the first of many!
Words of wisdom to horse owners? Have patience and enjoy the ride.
Most enjoyable golf course played? Chateau Whistler nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia, Canada. It has amazing scenery from the first hole thru the 18th.
What aspect of golf appeals to you the most? Links courses in amazing locales.
Golf handicap? Unofficially it is a 17 or so, but I stopped recording scores a few years ago. Now I play bogie golf, but sadly I play far less often than I used to play. No scratch golfer here, sorry to say!
Best golfing attribute? I enjoy the game, the little things, knowing I will make mistakes and loving that special shot.
Dream foursome? Freddy Couples, Seve, Tom Morris and me!
What celebrity golfers have you teed-it-up with? Closest I came to playing with a celeb was when my wife and I saw Sean Connery coming off the 18th green at the Old Course in Scotland. We got his picture with his golf buggy in hand. He was pulling his own golf cart.
Favorite golf story? Having a hole-in-one in an outing and never getting rewarded when the there was a hole-in-one contest on an earlier hole that gave away a CAR. Another one was when I was playing St. Andrews New course. The first hole is aligned with a fenced field (Out of Bounds all the way down the left side). My drive on the tee hooked with help from a cross wind, and it sailed out of bounds. The guy behind me says in a heavy Scottish accent, Youíve come a long way to hit that one laddie. I promptly re-teed my ball and told him that in the states we call that a mulligan. The New Course is 100 years old, making it officially the oldest new course in the world!
Words of wisdom to golfers? Beginner - take a proper lesson; Duffers - just accept your game and enjoy playing it!
Who is your favorite TGC member and why? Linda Rice; hard working and honest