By Robert D. Fierro
Everyone whose life he touched was no doubt touched in many ways upon hearing of the passing of Steve DiMauro. That would include many memories of his training accomplishments with Wajima, Lady Pitt, Dearly Precious, et al, and his place in the Hall of Fame-as well as the fact that he basically “discovered” jockey Richard Migliore.
And I could not imagine that anyone who was touched by him remembers him with anything other than respect and fondness.
That goes double and triple for yours truly because he was an exceptional, though very understated, influence in my involvement with the New York breeding program with which I became involved in the early 1980s when he was President of New York Thoroughbred Breeders.
I was just starting out very modestly when Steve sort of encouraged me, with an occasional nod if not a wink, to add my promotional talents to the hands-on experience of other members of the board of directors. To say I was astonished would be an understatement: The only thing I had in common with him was an Italian heritage, although his demeanor and approach to life may have seemed far from what (still at that time) was the stereotype of “our people” in the industry, and in the country at large, i.e., overly expressive people who talked with their hands along with their somewhat robust mouths.
That stereotype was the complete opposite of what I had come to learn and understand was the essential quality of a man of Italian heritage-pazienza, which means exactly what you think it means: He was a man of patience in a business, and culture, which were beginning to depend on short cuts.
Without realizing it at the time, his steady hand as leader of the breeders during a time of turbulence involving both the state government and the racing executives set the stage for others who followed him to adopt some of his wait-and-see style, a style which was usually backed up with a few behind the scenes nudges that helped achieve our goals.
His way of going, so to speak, allowed his successor Paul Schosberg, and Paul's successor (me) to temper our impatience at times by calling on Steve for advice, which was given with a bit of an arched eyebrow, cryptic insight, and always a smile. I didn't realize it but he was much like my father who wore out his own eyebrows with the pazienza he had (don't ask).
His lovely and adoring wife Kathryn and his always friendly and quite accomplished trainer and now Gulfstream steward son Steve shared a heritage that husband and father displayed quietly every time you came into his presence. If he were part of the game today at the same age that he was when I first met him most people would refer to him as “cool.”
If he had ever heard that, he would no doubt arch that eyebrow-and then burst out laughing.
Bravo, Stefano, bravo!
Bob Fierro is a partner with Jay Kilgore and Frank Mitchell in DataTrack International, biomechanical consultants and developers of BreezeFigs. He can be reached at [email protected]