From outward appearances, Bob Edwards looks like a modern-day Midas. Most of what he’s touched, in his pharmaceutical businesses and now in racing, has turned to gold.
For the racehorse owner who entered the sport on a whim in 2015 — and a year later found himself in the winner’s circle at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships with New Money Honey — a constant stream of research, an obsessive work ethic, and a team of industry power players has proven a formula for success.
Edwards, 48, owns e Five Racing Thoroughbreds with his wife, Kristine. Bob was born in New Jersey and grew up in Highland Mills, N.Y. Kristine is from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where she worked at the racetrack for a time. The two met while attending Plattsburgh State University in New York. Bob joined the Army Reserve to pay for school and eventually went on to Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., where he got a degree in business.
Two years after taking a job with a pharmaceutical company in Florida, Edwards co-founded a company of his own, Boca Pharmacal. As the pharmaceutical distributor evolved into the development and manufacturing of both branded and generic drugs, Edwards was featured in a 2007 South Florida Business Journal article. It described the eccentricity of the hard-working, hard-playing entrepreneur.
“Most pharmaceutical executives at companies with $20 million-plus in revenue conduct interviews in their offices while wearing a suit and tie,” the article read. “Bob J. Edwards Jr. is not a typical pharmaceutical executive. … [He] hosted a recent interview in his office while wearing a Miami Dolphins baseball cap, jeans and sandals. Most of his 35 employees were dressed just as casually.”
Three years ago, the generic division of the business, alone, was sold for more than ten times the revenue total cited in the 2007 article. Edwards tried retirement, only to find himself uncomfortable with being “the oldest guy surfing and the youngest guy golfing.”
He went back to work.
After launching another company in 2014, e5 Pharma (the “e” for Edwards and the 5 representing Bob, Kristine, and their three children, Cassidy, 23; Riley, 21; and Delaney, 18), Edwards also carved out time to begin work on a distillery. Old Everglades Distillery is set to break ground in Deerfield Beach, Fla. next year.
While in Saratoga for a family reunion in August 2015, one of Edwards’ business partners invited Bob and Cassidy to join him on the backstretch to visit the barns of some of the horses he owned.
“Our [prior] exposure to racing was a few picnic tables, coolers of beer and the mini program,” Edwards said. “Cassidy has always been an animal lover, and horses have always had a special place in her heart. An hour on the backside and I was hooked. Seeing all that goes into the sport and how hard everyone was working was intriguing. Getting up close with the horses and seeing how regal they were was incredible as well.”
The visit happened to coincide with the annual yearling sales at Fasig-Tipton, located across the street from the track. Bob and Cassidy were given a tour of the sales grounds and introduced to bloodstock agent Mike Ryan (bloodstock agents are similar to talent scouts, trained to spot promising horses at sales and advise owner purchases).
Edwards was so taken by the experience and what he learned from Ryan that he decided to dive headfirst into racing, right then and there.
“Mike was a true gentleman and spent the rest of the day educating Cassidy and I on conformation, pedigree, and the best way for us to get involved in racing. Six hours later, I had to duck out of a wedding rehearsal to take a call and bid on our first horse,” he said.
It wasn’t long before the racing bug bit everyone in the family. It might’ve hit the Edwards’ oldest daughter, Cassidy, who goes by Casi, the hardest. The University of Alabama graduate, who has a degree in social media marketing from Rutgers University and now runs the e5 Racing social media accounts, rode horses for most of her childhood. She recalled the frenzied feeling in the Edwards household between the family’s first purchase in Saratoga and the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.
“[Those] few weeks made my mom crazy. She said my dad became obsessed with the catalogs and pedigrees. All the work and guidance from Mike paid off. They hit Book 1 hard and picked up some well-pedigreed fillies. Since then, it has been quite an exciting ride,” Casi said.
With guidance from Ryan, Niall Brennan, and Dr. Scott Pierce, e Five Racing purchased several high-dollar racing prospects at the Keeneland sale. At $450,000, they were the high bidders on a bay Medaglia d’Oro filly bred by WinStar Farm. In a self-deprecating poke at themselves and the money made on the then-recent sale of Edwards’ pharmaceutical company, they playfully named the horse New Money Honey.
The filly finished second in her debut to eventual multiple graded stakes winner La Coronel. It was a sign of things to come. In just her second career start, New Money Honey won the $200,000, Grade 3 Miss Grillo Stakes on the turf at Belmont Park.
Trained by Chad Brown, New Money Honey would become a household name in her third start, when she captured the $1-milllion, Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita Park. The winner’s share of $550,000 not only covered the filly’s purchase price (and then some), it also thrust e Five, Bob Edwards, and his family into the national racing spotlight.
“We went from not winning a maiden special weight race to the Breeders’ Cup,” Edwards said. “An unbelievable experience. Our son, Riley, and youngest daughter, Delaney, made the trip. … My wife and I were in shock. We were thankful to have Mary Ryan [Mike Ryan’s wife] and our owner’s escort bring us down to the winner’s circle. Someone handed me a trophy and said, ‘turn around.’ I never saw that many cameras before. At this point, the adrenaline spike is at its peak, and they started to interview me. It was all a blur.”
What was clear was that in just its first year in racing, e Five had a superstar on its roster. New Money Honey has continued to shine in 2017, winning the Grade 3 Wonder Again Stakes and the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational. Despite failing to take to the dirt in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes on Aug. 19, New Money Honey is expected to be one of the top contenders in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar in November.
“From early on, during training at Stonestreet in Ocala, New Money Honey has been a family favorite,” Casi said. “She has the sweetest personality — super friendly — and loves attention. If you walk up to her stall, she immediately comes over to you and will lay her head in your arms. Treats are not her thing, but she enjoys head scratches and kisses. Our entire family loves to be able to go back to the barn and see her regularly.”
The booming e Five barn also produced significant scores in last year’s Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes with Zindaya at Santa Anita (two days after New Money Honey’s Breeders’ Cup victory) and the Grade 3 Matron Stakes in 2016 with Arella Rockstar, the latter in partnership with Magic Cap Stables.
The Edwards’ stable has grown to more than a dozen horses, including recent winner Cassidy’s Reward, Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby third-place finisher Local Hero, allowance winners Florida Fabulous and Bene, and several debuting or soon-to-debut 2-year-olds. Million-dollar Keeneland September purchase Good Magic finished second in his debut at Saratoga last week for e Five and Stonestreet Stables.
As their horses have continue to thrive, Casi — whose full-time job is at her father’s e5 Pharma — has found herself more and more interested in opportunities to further immerse herself in racing. In fact, she recently began contributing as a blogger for America’s Best Racing. Her interests in the sport cover everything from fashion to racing to breeding, and she’s exploring several areas of potential pursuit.
“There is no ‘Horse Racing for Dummies’ handbook,” she said. “There are so many levels of detail that you cannot be an expert overnight. Learning pedigrees, understanding conformation, making sense of the [Daily Racing Form] … there is a lot of homework involved. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to be involved with wonderful organizations and people who answer questions and help me understand the sport better.
“My dad, Mike Ryan, Dave Fawkes, Rudy Rodriguez, Chad Brown, and countless others have all been patient and helped me learn about the sport and the awesome athletes involved. I’ve gravitated more toward the racing side so far, but I am becoming increasingly interested in the breeding side. I hope to learn more about that in the future. The greatest enjoyment for my family and I is the thrill of the race, the minute and change of pure adrenaline.”
Both Casi and her father discussed ways in which racing can attract younger fans and new owners; they’re uniquely qualified to weigh in, having been drawn to racing only recently as relative outsiders.
“Bringing new blood to the sport is paramount,” Bob Edwards said. “The industry leaders at the tracks need to be more forward-thinking. They need to invest in the future of the sport. Saratoga and Keeneland are special places and are both well supported. Some of the other tracks could upgrade their image and offerings to create a new scene that makes the younger generation want to be seen. This generation likes to live in the moment and needs things to happen fast to keep their attention. Better marketing, restaurants, social clubs, access, and shorter post times could all help.”
While he hasn’t been in racing for long, Edwards would seem to know from what he speaks. After all, just about everything he’s done to date — both inside and outside of racing — has worked out. It’s almost funny how easy e Five Racing has made it look, winning at an old game with some new money … and perhaps just a bit of beginner’s luck.
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