Steve Beneto

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Sweet Lulu, the Test, Saratoga, 24th August 2013

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Sire: Mr Greeley. Dam: Successful Outlook

Steve Beneto, a 74-year-old member of the California Horse Racing Board who was inducted into the California State Fair Rodeo Hall of Fame, has a fascinating background. He was making a living vanning horses in 1966 when he purchased his first horse, who won his first race. “That got me hooked,” he said. “I got the bug.”

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In 1973, Beneto purchased an A&W Root Beer franchise and an adjacent gas station. When the national gas crisis hit, his suppliers cut him off. So he purchased an old truck at an auction and began hauling gas himself. That single truck evolved into Beneto Tank Lines, a $72 million business with 250 trucks based at 18 terminals. In 2003, he sold his company to Kenan Advantage Group. Because he was traveling so much to his terminals, he purchased his own airplane. That grew into Beneto Inc. Jet Sales and Leasing, with offices near his home in Sacramento and in Dallas, Texas. “I usually get straight to the point real fast and solve the problem,” Beneto said. “You’ve got to work through the issues and stay on top of things until you get what you want.”

A board meeting at Del Mar prevented Beneto from going to Saratoga to see the Test, so he called up his friend George Hearst, who owns the Times Union newspaper in Albany, New York. “He called me up and asked if I could represent him this weekend,” Hearst said. “I said, ‘I will if she can run.’”

She can, and she did. “She’s a killer of a horse,” Hearst said.