Michael Iavarone Joins TDN Writers' Room Podcast

Michael Iavarone | Horsephotos

When the IEAH stable partnership closed down in 2013, it seemed like the sport had seen the last of its founder, Michael Iavarone. But after four years on the sidelines Iavarone returned as the solo owner of a small group of horses in 2017. Since, he has built his stable into a top outfit, as evidenced by the fact that he will have a starter in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational in O'Connor (Chi) (Boboman) and in the GI Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in Master Piece (Chi) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}).

What brought Iavarone back to the sport, what are his goals and what on earth is the story with the crazy outfits he wears when he shows up at the track? Those were some of the questions we had for Iavarone when he appeared on this week's TDN Writers' Room podcast presented by Keeneland. Iavarone was this week's Green Group Guest of the week.

“So when I left in 2013, obviously I ran a syndicate at the time and we were unwinding the syndicate but I always wanted to essentially come back,” Iavarone said. “I just didn't know when, but I wanted to come back, just not as a syndicate. I wanted to come back with only my own money and have a couple partners. Very much low key, more for the entertainment than a business side of it. So I had to wait for the right time. I went back into the securities industry for an extended period of time. In 2017, I talked it over with my wife and we felt the time was good for a reentry point. So that's when we dipped the toe in, per se.”

Michael Iavarone Joins the TDN Writers' Room from Thoroughbred Daily News on Vimeo.

He said he never enjoyed having the responsibilities that go hand in hand with running a big syndicate. One of his worst memories was having to tell the partners that I Want Revenge (Stephen Got Even) was being scratched the morning of the 2009 GI Kentucky Derby.

“I can tell you that having a conversation with 125 or 150 people that day was so incredibly difficult that at no moment did I get a chance to even accept or even understand myself what just happened,” he said. “It felt like the worst thing in the world for them. And it was one of the worst things in the world for me to have to tell them why we're being scratched. And from that moment forward, it kind of sucked the life out of me because nobody cared or asked me the question, why did the horse scratch? Is the horse okay? It was more of a question of what does that mean to us financially? What does it mean to my investment? What does it mean to my money? And I would say to them, I can't control that. I'm not going to put a racehorse on the racetrack that has the opportunity or even the remote possibility of breaking down. Nobody really cared about that.”

And his outfits? In his IEAH days Iavarone looked and dressed like a Wall Streeter, wearing expensive and conservative suits. Now, he shows up in outfits that look like he stole them from Elvis Presley or maybe Michael Jackson. There are the jump suits, the bling, the deep tan and the ever present sunglasses.

“When I met my wife, she was very much into fashion,” Iavarone said. “So I first tried on something that I thought was kind of outrageous and ridiculous. I was against wearing it out, but I did anyway. I got some compliments. Some people looked at me like I was crazy, but I started to grow more comfortable with it. I felt like I could express myself in an older age. When I was younger I felt like I needed to be molded. I'm comfortable in my skin and I feel like it's fun. I know some people don't like it. Some people, they love it. The good news is I don't have to answer anybody anymore. That's the best part of not being part of a syndicate. So I can kind of do it my way. I feel like the way I dress now and go to the racetrack, it's all about fun.”

In the stallion spotlight segments, the podcast featured Coolmore's Epicenter (Not This Time), who stands for a fee of $40,000. The focus was also on Always Dreaming (Bodemeister), who stands at WinStar for $5,000. His best son, Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming) was this week's Fastest Horse of the Week. He ran a 105 Beyer in his victory in the GIII Louisiana S. at Fair Grounds and is on his way to the Saudi Cup.

Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by WinStar Farm, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association,1/ST Racing, the KTA & KTOB, West Point Thoroughbreds, and XBTV.com, the team of Randy Moss, Bill Finley and Zoe Cadman looked at a trio of 3-year-olds who were impressive winners last weekend. All three agreed that GIII Lecomte S. winner Track Phantom (Quality Road) and maiden winners Hall of Fame (Gun Runner) and Maymun (Frosted) are horses to watch on the road to the GI Kentucky Derby. There were also discussions of the news that Bob Baffert and Amr Zedan had dropped their last lawsuits challenging the decision to disqualify Medina Spirit (Protonico) from the 2021 Kentucky Derby and the developments out of Saudi Arabia where The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia announced that it is, finally, moving closer to disqualifying Maximum Security (New Year's Day) from his win in the 2020 Saudi Cup.

To watch the Writers' Room podcast video, click here. To listen to an audio version, click here.

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