By Bill Finley
Anthony Manganaro, the innovative chairman and co-owner of Siena Farm who enjoyed success at the top levels of the racing and breeding businesses, passed away at his summer residence in Saratoga Sunday. One of the co-owners of Flightline (Tapit) and a former member of the Breeders' Cup Board, Manganaro was 79.
“Anthony was a great partner,” said WinStar Farm President and CEO Elliott Walden. “He had bought in on most of our racehorses over the last few years. He was a man who was never satisfied with the status quo. He always wanted to improve things. He continued to press into difficult issues and that's what I'll remember most about him. He taught me an awful lot. He was a great mentor. The interesting thing about Anthony was, that while he was in his seventies, he was more technologically savvy than most people in their thirties. He continued to look toward the future with a zeal and an energy that made everyone around him better. ”
“This is a tough one for the game,” said Breeders' Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming. “He was one of the best. Anthony was officially on the Breeders' Cup Board for four years and as a member for more than that. He was always extremely supportive of the company and the business. Everyone will say that Anthony Manganaro was a visionary who had a passion for the game. That passion for the game went way above and beyond breeding and racing. He wanted to improve the sport as a whole as well as the people involved at all levels of the sport. Anthony had a passion for innovation and technology and wanted to introduce that to our sport to modernize it and make it available for new, future generations. The forward thinking he had was like nothing I have ever seen.”
Manganaro grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood just outside of Boston and attended Suffolk Downs with his father. He remained in Boston for his college career, graduating from Northeastern University.
Manganaro moved to Maryland in 1981, where he built a number of successful businesses. That list included Siena Corp., a real estate development firm, which Anthony and his son, Todd, used to turn ezStorage into one of the nation's largest regional self storage companies. Prior to that, Manganaro started and ran Boston Medical Corporation, making it one of nation's leading distributors of disposable medical supplies.
In 2007, looking for a new challenge, Anthony headed to Kentucky and found 220 acres of land in Paris on what he called a “rundown cattle farm.” Manganaro turned that tract of land into Siena Farm; a state-of-the-art boutique breeding operation that would normally have about 25 mares. His goal was nothing less than to breed the soundest and fastest race horses possible.
“Our goal at Siena Farm is simple: breed and raise superior, world-class racehorses by melding hundreds of years of traditional horsemanship with leading-edge technology,” reads a passage on the farm's website. Manganaro believed the result would be “happy, healthy horses ready to succeed in their racing and breeding careers.”
The Siena team includes General Manager Ignacio “Nacho” Patino and President David Pope.
“He was a big influence in my life and in my family's life,” Patino said. “We last talked on Friday and some of it was on business, but he was mostly asking me about my family. I was taking a bike ride the other day and for some reason I started thinking about Anthony and everything he had done for my family. He was a mentor to me and was just the type of person where you could talk to him about anything. He was always there to help you. Anything you needed, he would help you. I was shocked when I learned he had passed away. We were together here at the farm for 15 years. This is hard. You want to be able to talk to him, but you know that he is gone.”
Siena Farm hit the winner's circle almost immediately. The farm bred and owned Angela Renee (Bernardini), whose biggest win came in the GI Chandelier S. in 2014. At the 2015 Fasig-Tipton November Sale, she was sold for $3 million. A year later, the Siena homebred Isabella Sings (Eskendereya) won the GII Mrs. Revere S., one of four graded stakes she captured during her career.
Throughout his career in racing, Manganaro was always on the lookout for a good horse and didn't always rely on breeding to find them. Two weeks prior to the 2017 GI Florida Derby, Manganaro, along with Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds, bought into Always Dreaming (Bodemeister). He would go on to win both the Florida Derby and the GI Kentucky Derby.
“There was buzz about Always Dreaming all winter because his works were so impressive,” Manganaro told the TDN. “Bodemeister ran one of the gutsiest races of the modern era in the Kentucky Derby, and there's significant stamina influence on the dam's side, so we're optimistic the colt will continue to blossom as the races get longer.”
His ties to West Point, which purchased Flightline for $1 million at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, helped him get in on the ground floor of a horse who would go on to be regarded as one of the best to ever race. Siena Farm was one of five co-owners of the horse.
“Anthony Manganaro and his nephew Paul are great partners of mine,” bloodstock agent David Ingordo told the Daily Racing Form. “And Anthony has done things with Terry Finley at West Point on and off over the years. So Terry brought him in on [Flightline] on their end of it.”
“The only thing I thought about today was just how incredible a person he was and what a great family man he was,” Finley said. “He was big thinker, a creative thinker. I wished there were more Anthony Manganaro-like people in the world. This is a big loss. This is a tough one. He lived a full life and from what I've heard he was at the races Saturday. He lived life to the fullest and did so right up to the end.”
Siena continues to breed and race top-class horses. Along with WinStar Farm, Siena owns Emmanuel (More Than Ready), a winner of four graded stakes. Siena also bred and co-owned, along with Timothy Hamm, Dayoutoftheoffice (Into Mischief), the winner of the 2020 GI Frizette S. She would go on to be sold for $2,850,000 at Fasig-Tipton November. Other horses raced by Siena Farm alone or in partnership include Catholic Boy (More Than Ready), Bal a Bali (Brz) (Put It Back), Royal Ship (Brz) (Midshipman) and Queen Picasso (Kingman).
Tributes to Anthony Manganaro…
Nick D'Amore (Manganaro's Grandson and Managing Member, Cold Press Racing LLC)
“It's hard to put into words what my grandfather meant to me and those who had the privilege of meeting him. He was a problem solver and visionary always looking to solve the great puzzles in the world. He introduced me to racing when I was five and I fell in love with the horses, but he fell in love with the challenge, the challenge of breeding top-class horses with consistency. We got to share a passion for racing together and it meant the world to me. I've gotten to speak to many of those who knew him over these last 24 hours and what was clear is he made an impact on everyone he spoke to.”
Barry Weisbord, founder Thoroughbred Daily News
Last Monday I spent my morning enjoying a scheduled breakfast conversation at Anthony Manganero's newly built home in Saratoga, with just us two. He welcomed me on the porch. We shared bagels and smoked salmon (always great conversation food), and in that idyllic setting I relished all three hours of our sharing thoughts, as anyone who has had the pleasure of his company would attest. I was not prepared for that being the last meal we would share.
His family lost Anthony Sunday. The Siena Farm and Thoroughbred worlds, the Northeastern University world, and I'm sure many other worlds share this loss of a very special person, who was filled with joy, love, energy, intellect and philanthropy.
He was the most kind and caring a person could be. He was also the most interesting, inventive, and forward thinking a person could be. I'm sure the Dos Equis ad campaign of “the
most interesting man in the world” was modeled on him, beard and all. If you wanted to learn about the possible application of AI technology to our industry, you called Anthony. He was always on chapters 4-5-6 when most had not even heard of the book.
He was about improving everything he had cared about, and about making the world a better place. He practiced his philosophy every day.
We spent the morning on a variety of subjects, as one always did with Anthony. Better organizing our industry especially from the Owner/Breeder/Horseman's perspective, possible new sources of industry revenue utilizing technology, and his computer research into predictive data in the bloodstock world, just to name a few. He had an insatiable appetite for learning that was always on display.
I am so thankful that he was a great friend to me and my family. I am so thankful that he enjoyed the Thoroughbred industry. He was truly irreplaceable. He had shoes impossible to fill. I hope some will join me in honoring his contributions by carrying on his legacies.