Jim, 69, is thoroughly enjoying his Trackmen Golf Club membership, thanks to a referral to the TGC by fellow member Steve Humphrey. Jim, a NY-bred born on Staten Island, was raised and went to High School in Simsbury, CT, where he lives today with his lovely wife Helene. They have two children, Michael (36) and Sarah (39). Michael has produced two grandchildren, Dan and Abby.
Jim graduated from Yale University with a BA in Liberal Arts in 1959. While at Yale, he was a “very good collegiate and national level athlete” as a runner. Jim proudly states “I did a 4.10 mile and a 1.51 half mile”. He went on to run for the Baltimore Olympic Club and the US Navy. After graduating from Yale, Jim attended the University of Virginia Law School in Charlottesville where he received his law degree in 1962. After law school, Jim entered the US Navy Officer Candidate School at Newport, RI and was commissioned a Lieutenant Jr. Grade. Thereafter he attended the US Navy JAG School and he was certified as a JAG trial lawyer. He was transferred to San Diego where he spent four years as a JAG Officer defending Navy sailors. His stay in San Diego, which is only 20 minutes south of Del Mar Racetrack, included “several trips to the track to watch the races”.
After the Navy stint, Jim landed a job as an attorney with the prestigious law firm Robinson & Cole, LLC in the firm’s Hartford, CT, office where today he is a partner. The firm has five other offices in NY and MA and employs over 200 lawyers. As a trial lawyer, Jim remarks “I have one of the most eclectic law practices in the firm; I do everything including general litigation, environmental cases, corporate disputes, white collar criminal litigation and political work”. Jim is very active in the Democratic Party and has represented former CT Governors John Dempsey, Ella Grasso and William O’Neill. Jim is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and is listed as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in three categories: Corporate Litigation, Civil Litigation and Criminal Defense. In 2003, he was duly honored and listed in the “Chambers Directory”, a British publication, as “One of the Best Lawyers in the World”.
Jim was initially introduced to the world of thoroughbred horse racing as a kid growing up with his own riding horse. “I became interested in horses and animals and my daughter had a thoroughbred from the track” he adds. A few weeks before one of his annual golfing trips to Ireland, Jim was approached by fellow Robinson & Cole attorney and “my dear friend” Steve Humphrey with the question “How would you like to buy an interest in an Irish racehorse?” Jim quickly responded to Steve’s inquiry“How would you like to handle my divorce!” Jim graciously declined Steve’s offer and did not buy into that horse but watched it from the sidelines as that horse went on to win some nice races and become very successful. However, the following year before yet another golfing trip to Ireland, Steve asked Jim the same question. This time Jim agreed and bought into another Irish horse, Dineson, with Steve and fellow TGC member Blair Beach in 1994. Jim shamefully adds“We didn’t tell our wives about buying this horse until after his successful career when we sold him for a lot of money!” Today, in addition to Jim’s interest in the TGC Stable IV and V Limited Racing Partnerships, he has an interest in a total of 8 horses in training. Jim emphatically states that the multiple stakes winning race mare, Song of Africa, a winner of over $275,000 he owned in partnership with Blair and Steve, is the best horse he has raced to date. The trio still owns Song of Africa who has become a very successful broodmare. Jim adds that Song of Africa’s first win at Gulfstream Park is the “best race” he has seen because “we never thought we would get her out of the gate because she wouldn’t go into the gate!” Noted Horse Whisperer, Monty Roberts, came to the rescue at a cost of $2,500 and with his “magic blanket” and she turned into a real runner. They have sold two of her foals for big prices at various auctions. This August at the Fasig-Tipton Select Yearling Sale, they will offer for sale a yearling colt by Carson City who is expected to bring several hundred thousand dollars. When asked the best horse Jim as seen run, he recollects it would be Seattle Slew‘s son, Chief Seattle, who was also owned by Blair, Steve and Tony. As far as the best race he has witnessed, Jim recalls a day at the races at Punchestown Racetrack in Ireland on a November day. He had bet on a horse to win in a Point to Point (hurdle) race. As the field came into the stretch and approached the final hurdle, Jim’s horse was in second place, some 50-lengths behind the front runner. “The leader became stuck on that last hurdle and my horse won!” Jim exclaims, adding “And I won about a $1,000 (US) as my horse was 10-1”. Jim recalls a humorous instance at Aqueduct Racetrack after one of Song of Africa’s wins when Steve and Jim were on their way to the winners circle. Jim had just undergone hip replacement surgery “from turning left too fast and too often during my years as runner” and was lagging behind Steve in route to get their picture taken when Jim hastily called out to Steve“wait for me, Bob Baffert”.For those of you that do not know Steve Humphrey, he has white hair and wears dark sunglasses, looking a lot like noted horse trainer Bob Baffert. “Everyone started to look at Steve and think he actually was Baffert!” Jim recalls. When asked which aspect of racing appeals to him the most, he states “It’s the return on investment matched against the unpredictability of these creatures. There is a real rush when they come through for you”.
Jim hones his current and very respectable 13-handicap at Hartford Golf Club where he has been a member for many years. He calls Pine Valley Golf Club in NJ the best course he has played. As a former athlete, the aspect of golf that appeals to him most is “to look for a challenging means to exercise my competitive nature. Golf allows that because of handicaps; you can play with a scratch golfer and should be able to finish even with him”. Jim quips “Golf is like criminal law, I didn’t invent the rules, I just play by them!” Jim thinks that “patience on the course”is his finest golfing attribute and adds about his game “I’m usually pretty good off the tee, but a little shaky around the greens”. Reflecting on the game of golf, Jim reminisces “Playing golf at Ballybunion on the west coast of Ireland on a fine June morning with the sun shining, a fair soft wind off the Atlantic, the field birds singing and a caddy replete with Irish stories – Can’t be beat”. When prompted to expel any Words of Wisdom for fellow golfers, Jim offers “Don’t take it up unless you’re prepared to become addicted to it”, which he also advises as the same Words of Wisdom to horse owners!
Outside horse racing and golf, Jim’s other interests are travel and being a “serious craftsmen in woodworking; I make furniture and artifacts”.
The TGC immensely enjoys Jim’s good fellowship, wit and great stories; he is truly a worldly figure who comes across as just “one of the guys”. Perhaps his secretary said it all when she remarked about Jim and his smile: “He never leaves home without it!” We wish him all the best in his endeavors and look forward to getting to know this rookie TGC member even better!