Partnerships: Get Into The Game With Crown's Way Racing

Smokin Jay | Coglianese

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It is said that life is simply a series of memories you share with the people you love. For Tony Rallo and his brother Tyler, most of those memories include Thoroughbred racing and Crown's Way Farm.

First exposed to horse racing by their grandfather, Ron Dicicilia (their original family name) and his brother Gene Cilio, both stalwarts of Illinois Thoroughbred racing, the Rallo brothers have resurrected the Crown's Way name and set out on a new path in racing, developing, and managing a racing partnership group. In fact, due to the new Crown's Way Racing's success, the family has either owned, trained, or bred a winning Thoroughbred in each decade since the 1940's when Angelo Cilio claimed the family's very first victory.

Spending an inordinate amount of his young adult life around Arlington Park, both watching races or in former jockey and current trainer Carlos Silva's barn, Tony Rallo is a self-proclaimed track rat. He had been working construction when the idea of resurrecting the family's racing operation started to take hold in his mind. Since owning his own string of horses wasn't an option, he did what most current owners in the game have done, gathered up family members, including his brother Tyler, and some friends, and claimed his first racehorse. That horse was Pat's Shoes (Eskendereya), who the new Crown's Way Racing claimed at Keeneland for $20,000 in April of 2018.

After an uninspiring fifth-place debut for the barn, Pat's Shoes turned it around and rattled off four straight victories. “Our partners thought that owning racehorses was easy money,” recalled Rallo. “They couldn't wait to get others involved and our partnership began to grow exponentially. Most everyone was rolling over their profits into new horses with us and our stable was growing organically and fast up to the present one hundred-plus partners.”

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In the last few years, the partnership group has been helped by people like Barstool Sports Chicago's @barstoolWSD who used his social media influence to get other racing and sports enthusiasts involved. “We have a low minimum of $500 to get involved, but we also have people that invest five figures,” said Rallo. “We want people to be able to share the experience with us and get involved so making ownership affordable is important.”

One of those people is fellow Chicago area partner Tom Boyle, who joined Crown's Way right before the pandemic. “I jumped in with Crown's Way and never looked back,” said Boyle. “From day one, Tony treated me as if I were the biggest partner in the group, when I know that I am not. The idea of being able to offset the cost of monthly maintenance with purse money and spread it amongst the group and not have to be solely responsible was very appealing.”

Crown's Way Racing has 11 horses in the partnership group, including Smokin Jay (Cairo Prince), a 5-year-old sprint specialist and stakes winner who has amassed over $300,000 in purse earnings for the group. Trained by Kelsey Danner, this striking gray gelding has become a group and fan favorite. In addition to Danner, Rallo enlists the services of trainers Carlos Silva, James Gulick and said he will be adding Chris Block to the roster. Aside from Danner, most of the trainer line-up spent most of their careers under the international flags of the now defunct Arlington Park.

Crown's Way Racing is structured and managed aggressively toward winning. “We want to give our partners a chance to win money,” explains Rallo. “We do not mark up any of our claims or purchases. We cover our administrative and management costs with a 10% commission on net purses (after trainer and jockey commissions). My brother Tyler, who is a CPA and handles all the financial and tax filings, and I share only the upside profits with a 25% commission on the sales profits and 15% of any annual operating profits.  If there are no profits for the partners, there is no profit for us.”

Partners in Crown's Way Racing look like a Saturday crowd at any racetrack, including 23-year-old Kyle Roscoe. “I worked at Arlington Park from 2018-2021 as an Arlington University Professor who was a bet-ologist, or in other words, taught people how to bet and read the program,” he said. “I had been going to Arlington years before that, though, even as a kid when my parents decided we needed a day outside. I fell in love with the sport at a young age and always dreamed of owning my own racehorse. I owned one during my tenure at Arlington, although he never amounted to anything at all, never even won a race sadly. But through my time at Arlington, that is where I met Tony and Crown's Way. Being fellow Chicago natives themselves, we struck up a conversation about our love for horses and aspirations of ownership. They had already been in business for a few years and notified me that they had spots open to get into horse ownership and that I should investigate it. It was one of the best decisions of my life as I now own part of eleven horses who have given me 17 wins, stuff I thought I would only be able to achieve at an old age and I have done it at 23.”

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When asked about the possible frustrations and workload that goes into managing a group of over one hundred partners, Rallo said, simply, “I could talk horses and horse racing 24 hours a day. It never gets old, boring, or frustrating.” The friendships that are born out of these partnerships are another value-added aspect of the experience.

Crown's Way partner Kevin Marko said, “Some of my closest friends today are a result of horse racing relationships. I'm happy to have met Tony and his group to further grow these friendships and help realize my passion.”

Dan Piazza agrees when asked about the best part of being involved with Crown's Way Racing. “The thrill of ownership,” he said. “New friends and relationships. The syndicate arrangement provided me the opportunity for ownership, the ability to learn and the opportunity to share these needs with a group that had similar wants and desires. Crown's Way has given me the opportunity to experience the excitement and thrill of the race in a way that would otherwise be impossible.”

Joe Scurto is the principal at Horseshoe Marketing. His Twitter is @RacingHorseshoe. For information on Crown's Way Racing, email [email protected].

Editor's Note: Partnerships, Presented by Taylor Made Partnerships, is a new TDN feature which explores different partnership groups at different investment levels across the country. Each month, we will choose a different group to profile.

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