Day At The Track

Ownership group a successful 'Fly By Night' operation

05:41 PM 12 Mar 2016 NZDT
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K Slater
K Slater competes on Saturday night at The Big M
Helene Gregory/World Wide Racing Photos

Nearly a decade ago, Tom Amendola told several friends he was going to start his own harness racing ownership group. His friends jumped on board immediately and Fly By Night Stables was born. Then came a pacer named K Slater, and the partners have been riding a wave of good times ever since.

K Slater, a 9-year-old gelding, has won 28 of 194 races and earned $415,266 since Fly By Night Stables purchased the horse from Brian Sears in January 2010. Last week, the Tom Fanning-trained K Slater won a conditioned race at the Meadowlands, giving him three victories in seven starts this season. He competes again at the Big M --- Fly By Night's home turf --- on Saturday night.

"When we bought K Slater from Brian Sears we just wanted an overnight horse, something that would get us to go to the track as a group and enjoy ourselves," said Amendola, a resident of Secaucus, N.J., in the shadows of the Meadowlands. "That's exactly what we got from him, plus some. He really got us to expand the stable and go into the next set of horses. He is our group. That horse really made us."

Prior to starting Fly By Night Stables, Amendola and his friends were members of other harness racing ownership partnerships. But Amendola wanted to be more involved in the operations and decided to create his own group with Robert Anderson and Rich Korycinski, both also from Secaucus.

When the time came to name the group, which now has nine members, a discussion led to Fly By Night Stables.

"We were sitting around and we looked at one another and said we're always flying by the seat of our pants, so we have to come up with something like that," Amendola said. "Well, we're doing this at night most of the time, so we decided why don't we make it Fly By Night."

The group's first horse was Cam Van Bussel, a pacer who battled injuries but still earned nearly $150,000 during his time with Fanning and Fly By Night.

"Tom kept us in the ballgame," Amendola said. "We never even knew if he was going to race. When you're a one-horse stable it's difficult; if that horse doesn't come back to the track and make you money, you could be out before you even get your feet on the ground."

Next came K Slater, who is now part of a five-horse Fly By Night operation. In addition to K Slater, the stable's horses are Do Your Job, History Repeats, Live On, and Special Package.

Do Your Job, a 5-year-old pacing mare with $160,626 in lifetime purses, won a division of the Keystone Classic in 2014. Live On, a world champion, is a 7-year-old pacing gelding with $311,763 in the bank and History Repeats is a lightly raced 3-year-old pacing filly who is a half-sister to millionaire Doctor Butch.

Special Package, owned by Fly By Night and Fanning, is a 4-year-old full sister to Do Your Job. She has won four of 30 races lifetime and earned $120,053. She won her seasonal debut earlier this week in an opening-round division of the Petticoat Series at Yonkers Raceway. She finished fifth in the 2014 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship and also competed in several open stakes events at ages 2 and 3.

"Tom and I talked about it and she was in a little over her head (earlier in her career); we expected too much," Amendola said. "But she was in some big races and she gave us some big thrills. Right now we're hoping she can come back and be a solid over-nighter. We're not looking for anything spectacular, but that she can be very competitive going forward this year."

Amendola said the stable will look to buy more yearlings in the future.

"The thrill of a yearling is something that the group really, really liked," Amendola said. "You don't know what you have. We've bought five or six yearlings with Tom and I think each one has made it to the track, which is amazing."

For now, they will enjoy their horses and the opportunities to go to the races together. And watch with fondness each time K Slater hits the track.

"He has been our biggest thrill and excitement," Amendola said. "He's just been so good to us."

Ken Weingartner

Media Relations Manager

Harness Racing Communications

A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

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