Tony Fanticola & Joe Scardino
Obviously, Shoemaker Mile, Hollywood Park, 29th June 2013
Trained by Mike Mitchell, Sire: Choisir. Dam: Leala
“One of my goals in life was to own a sports team and I didn’t have $700 million laying around,” Tony Fanticola laughed when asked how he became a Thoroughbred owner.
Before he moved to California 25 years ago, the 70-year-old native of Staten Island, N.Y., used to go to the track in the morning with his late brother-in-law, Joe Trovato, a long-time, successful New York trainer who conditioned 1974 Filly Triple Crown Champion Chris Evert. “I used to go to the track with him in the morning,” Fanticola said. “Coffee and donuts and watch his horses train.”
When he came to California, he met Joe Scardino. “His son, Frank, built our house in Glendora,” Fanticola said. “We hit it off pretty good. He’s a sharp individual. He’s Italian. We broke bread a number of times.”
Scardino, an 81-year-old native of Chicago, has retired from his business as a contractor specializing in drywall construction. He began his involvement in horses some 45 years ago with Quarter Horses before switching to Thoroughbreds. “I think Quarter Horses are a lot of fun, but I thought it would be better for me to do Thoroughbreds,” he said.
Before he became partners with Fanticola, he did well on his own. “I won the Del Mar Derby and the Hollywood Derby (in 1988) with Silver Circus, that I claimed for $32,000,” he said. “That worked out well. Then I claimed Bruho for $50,000, and he went on to win Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien (in 1991).”
And while Fanticola doesn’t have $700 million, he has done well enough, operating 105 Jiffy Lube franchises in Southern California, to risk an equine investment. “We wound up buying a horse together, Flying First Class,” Fanticola said. “It worked out well. We won a couple of races. He’s a fantastic partner.” The feeling is mutual. “It’s really a great partnership,” Scardino said. “Tony and I just agree very easily.”
They initially used Mike Mitchell as their trainer, then left racing for a couple of years before returning. Mitchell was glad to have them back. “This is my second time around with them,” Mitchell, said. “They’re wonderful, wonderful people. I’ve known Joe for a lifetime. They’re fun to work for and they love winning.”
They’ve done a lot of it, considering their stable size is usually just four or five horses.
“They make it fun,” Mitchell said. “They love being a part of it.”