By Dick Jerardi
Smarty Jones created thousands of racing fans in 2004. Pasquale Dangelantonio, Jr., is definitely one of them.
“Smarty Jones is the best for me,” Dangelantonio said. “People always ask, did I grow up in the business, how did I get in? Right away, I drop Smarty Jones. That was the thrill of a lifetime watching that.
“I’ve met all of his connections since then, even Dr. Patty Hogan (who famously operated on Smarty for that nasty eye injury he suffered as a two-year-old).”
A union construction worker with Local 14 in Philadelphia, Dangelantonio grew up Darby, Pa. and now lives in Sewell, N.J.
“I’m just a neighborhood guy who happens to be in the hot seat right now,” Dangelantonio said.
A hot seat, but a good seat.
Dangelantonio is part of Bourbon Lane Stable which is a racing syndicate and has a pinhooking partnership. In fact, he was part of the group that originally purchased Kentucky Derby prospect Bourbon War for $410,000 at the Conquest Stable dispersal in November 2016, with the intention of reselling him.
A bad X-Ray kept him from being sold as a yearling. A bad breeze kept him from being sold as a two-year-old. An X-Ray that looked like a chip, but turned out to be a double exposure also kept buyers away.
So they had to race the son of Tapit. Dangelantonio stayed in for a 1% share of Bourbon War’s racing career. After a fast-closing second in the March 2 Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Bourbon War likely will run next in the March 30 Grade I Florida Derby.
When Bourbon War came running late in the Fountain of Youth, “I’ll be honest, we didn’t know what happened at the wire,” Dangelantonio said. “Everyone was screaming. We were so confused; wait did we win, did we not win? I knew we didn’t win, why are we yelling? We were so excited that happened and it played out the way it did. Wow. I’m still on a high from that.”
A fan first and foremost, Dangelantonio places flowers at the Barbaro statue every time one of the Bourbon Lane Stable horses runs at Churchill Downs. And he would love to be back at Churchill in May to see Bourbon War wear some roses.
Dangelantonio’s enthusiasm shines through whenever he talks about horse racing.
“It’s so much fun and exciting,” Dangelantonio said. “Someone told me there’s nothing like your first win. My first win just happened to be at Saratoga. You’re going to ask me if we win the Derby, what’s my favorite thing in horse racing, it’s always going to be that first win at Saratoga and the people and the back stories.”
He won’t be able to make the Florida Derby because he already had plans to go to the Dubai World Cup.
“It’s going to be 3 o’clock in the morning there, but hopefully Skeikh Mo don’t get too mad and hear us screaming,” Dangelantonio said. “Hopefully, he’s sitting next to us screaming along.”