Trainer's $4,000 seed flowers into $241,686 'Point' is name of profit to ex-business major Sire

January 17, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Bill Sire's mantra regarding See Your Point, the probable favorite in today's Maryland Racing Writers' Handicap at Laurel Park, is: "The best $4,000 I ever spent. The best $4,000 I ever spent."

A trainer based at Bowie, Sire bought See Your Point sight unseen five years ago when she was a yearling. He had attended business college for three years; he can analyze the numbers.

A racehorse purchased for $4,000 has earned $241,686 -- and runs today for $30,000 more. That's a mighty good deal, and you don't have to be a business major to figure it out.

"I had a horse once who won about $190,000," Sire said. "But I've never had one this good. She hasn't really changed my outlook on coming to the barn every morning, but she sure has made my financial life a lot easier."

Sire, 39, is one of many small-time trainers in Maryland who watch their horses with one eye and the bottom line with the other. He trains five horses, employs one groom (Carlos Gonzales), one exercise rider (Wendy Schwartz), and still walks horses and shovels manure out of stalls himself.

Eighteen years ago, when he dropped out of business college for this, his friends and family were shocked.

"Everybody said I was crazy," Sire said. "Since nobody in my family had ever worked with horses, they thought this was a little radical."

He grew up in New Jersey near Monmouth Park and spent his fair share of time at the track as a fan. After his sophomore year in college, he got a job walking horses for trainer Marty Fallon. After his junior year, he came back -- and never left.

He worked for Fallon nine years, six as his assistant, before obtaining a trainer's license in 1989. He went to work at Philadelphia Park, winning with Lagima, the first horse he ever saddled. In 1995 he moved to Maryland, and one of the horses he brought with him was See Your Point.

Sire had trained and co-owned See Your Point's older sister, Berea, with a friend, Tom Teal. Berea won 11 races. When Teal told Sire that Berea's sister was for sale for $4,000 (by Rock Point out of All the C's), Sire snapped her up without looking at her. This was late 1993. See Your Point was about to turn 2.

Sire didn't race her at 2 because she was slow to develop. And he didn't race her at 3 because she injured a foot.

But when he finally began saddling her for races at Laurel in January 1996, See Your Point ran as if she had a point to prove. In 30 races, she has finished in the top three 22 times (12 firsts, six seconds, four thirds).

In 11 races last year, she won five and finished second three times. Three of her victories were in stakes. See Your Point enters today's 1 1/8 -mile handicap as the highweight on a three-race win streak.

Sire likes her chances. And he knows the odds after three years at business college and 18 years on the backstretch.

"I always tell people I majored in turf accounting," he said.

And this was the best $4,000 he ever spent.

NOTES. The road to the Kentucky Derby begins today at Gulfstream Park with the $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes, a Grade III race at 1 1/16 miles. The top contenders are the undefeated Sweetsouthernsaint, a son of Saint Ballado, the sire of Captain Bodgit; Cape Town, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who is eager to reclaim the title of Triple Crown king; Laydown, a son of Cryptoclearance trained by Nick Zito, also eager to regain the Triple Crown spotlight, and Comic Strip, one of several Derby hopefuls trained by Neil Howard. At Santa Anita Park, Silver Charm tries to turn the tables on Lord Grillo in the $300,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes. Lord Grillo upset Silver Charm three weeks ago in the Malibu Stakes. It was Silver Charm's first race since his near sweep of the Triple Crown.

Pub Date: 1/17/98

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