Longtime owner and breeder Paul Pompa, Jr., who campaigned dual Classic winner Big Brown (Boundary) in partnership, passed away suddenly Saturday, according to Jerry McClenin, Pompa's cousin-in-law and stable manager. He was 62.
A highly respected businessman, Pompa was owner and President of the Brooklyn-based trucking company Truck-Rite Corp., which he recently sold. He got into Thoroughbreds in 2000 with the help of McClenin.
“Paul was a tremendous businessman who ran his trucking business almost exclusively on his own,” McClenin said. “He came to me saying he wanted to get into the horse racing industry as I had helped his father with his horses. I tried to talk him out of it obviously, but he wanted to try it. We started out small with a claiming horse here or there and within eight years he had Big Brown. Paul has been one of the leading owners for the last 15 years or so. He was a hands-on owner. He always treated all his horses tremendously and made sure they had a life after racing. He was always respectful to everybody. There weren't too many people who didn't like Paul.”
Pompa's first graded win came in 2004 when Zakocity (Precocity) captured the GIII Discovery H. and his first Grade I came courtesy of Big Brown in the 2008 Florida Derby. Big Brown was trained by Pat Reynolds to a spectacular debut victory at first asking at Saratoga in 2007 after which IEAH Stables bought into the colt. Turned over to Richard Dutrow, Jr., Big Brown won the Florida Derby, GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S. before being eased when going for the Triple Crown in the GI Belmont S. The bay came back to win that year's GI Haskell Invitational S.
Other graded winners campaigned by Pompa include Grade I winners Backseat Rhythm (El Corredor) and Connect (Curlin), as well as other graded winners D'Funnybone (D'wildcat), Night Prowler (Giant's Causeway) and Tommy Macho (Macho Uno).
In 2020, he has been represented by the likes of GIII Peter Pan S. winner Country Grammer (Tonalist), homebred GIII Quick Call S. hero Turned Aside (American Pharoah) and 'TDN Rising Star' and GIII Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf S. heroine Regal Glory (Animal Kingdom). The latter is a daughter of Mary's Follies (More Than Ready), who was acquired privately by Pompa in 2009 and carried his green, white and red colors to victory in the GII Mrs. Revere S. In addition to Regal Glory, she is also responsible for Night Prowler and Japanese Group 3 winner Cafe Pharoah (American Pharoah).
“I would consider him a man's man, who said what he meant and did what he said,” said longtime friend and bloodstock agent Steve Young, who purchased runners such as GISP Rally Cry (Uncle Mo) and SW Your Love (Flatter), for Pompa. “He was a great guy with great integrity.”
Pompa's most recent trainers were Chad Brown, conditioner of Country Grammer and Regal Glory; Linda Rice, trainer of Turned Aside; and Todd Pletcher.
“He was a terrific person and he was a great owner to train for,” Pletcher said. “He cared about his horses and would ask you questions and let you make decisions. He was very supportive and upbeat. He always found the optimistic side to everything. He was a nice person to talk to and a dedicated family man. I know he worked hard to accomplish what he did in life. When people are successful and maintain their kindness, it's a tribute to the quality of a person he was. It's a big loss for our stable and a big loss for the industry as well. He will be missed.”
“Paul Pompa was a true sportsman, who loved racing and his horses,” said Rice. “We enjoyed a lot of success together over the years, most recently with his homebred Turned Aside. It was an honor and a pleasure to work for him. He will be greatly missed.”
Brown tweeted Saturday evening: “Today was a difficult day to get [through] after hearing of the passing of my close friend and loyal owner Paul Pompa. He would always ask how my family was before we even spoke about horses. Extremely generous when we won, and even more understanding when we lost.”
Pompa is survived by his wife Elisa and sons Michael and Paul, III. Funeral services are pending.
Today was a difficult day to get thru after hearing of the passing of my close friend and loyal owner Paul Pompa. He would always ask how my family was before we even spoke about horses. Extremely generous when we won, and even more understanding when we lost. RIP💔 #oneofakind pic.twitter.com/nbutOlw6dc
— Chad C. Brown (@TheRealChadCBr1) October 10, 2020