Old Smoke Clothing Co. is a clothing and lifestyle brand with a focus on the sport of horse racing. Founded in 2018 by lifelong racing enthusiasts from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Old Smoke prides itself on providing fresh designs that celebrate the fascinating history of the sport of kings while embracing the passion and lifestyle of today’s racing community. You can view Old Smoke’s current product line at oldsmokeclothing.com and keep up to date with Old Smoke on Instagram and Facebook at @oldsmokeclothing and Twitter at @oldsmokeco. Get to know the team, which includes founders Kurt Rossner and Adrian Szamreta as well as Erik Hoover, with a fun Q&A below.
Our introduction to horse racing occurred when:
We were playing college baseball together in upstate New York. We heard that Saratoga was “the summer place to be.” We paid it a visit and have been hooked on the sport ever since.
What we like about Thoroughbred racing:
The mystique, the pageantry, the athletes. And the chance to gamble and drink bourbon doesn’t hurt either.
Why we launched Old Smoke Clothing Company:
We saw a niche in the industry that needed to be filled and felt we had the skill set to succeed at filling it. This presented the opportunity to wake up every morning and do something we absolutely love doing.
How did Old Smoke become an official licensee of the Kentucky Derby:
Having attended this race on numerous occasions, we’ve observed year after year that there is always an effort to maximize the fan experience. In turn, the Derby organization identified Old Smoke as a way to expand the range of products offered to fans of the race. We’d like to think that our reputation from racing fans, as well as industry insiders, helped facilitate this partnering with us.
What does being an official licensee of the Kentucky Derby mean for Old Smoke:
It confirms the principle on which we founded Old Smoke; the industry lacked a brand that provided fans with quality products, featuring fresh designs that celebrate the sport. To paraphrase a famous movie line, we truly believed, “if we build it, they will come.” This partnership also helps to validate the credibility that we have gained within the industry since our launch in spring 2018.
Where can fans buy the Old Smoke Kentucky Derby shirts:
The Kentucky Derby Museum Shop and the Churchill Downs Store are the first two retail locations to carry selections from this new line. We are also offering a limited number of designs on our website, with plans for many more in the new year.
Where can fans find Old Smoke products this holiday season:
What’s your favorite T-shirt created to date:
There are so many designs we love and a number of them have a cool story behind their development. Our Secretariat designs really stand out to us. The opportunity to associate our name with an American icon was an incredible experience.
Do you have a favorite Kentucky Derby memory:
Our memories of it are a little foggy, but the bachelor party of one of our co-founders at Derby 135 is definitely at the top of the list.
Old Smoke is also doing custom work for stables and ownership syndicates. Who have you worked with to date?
We’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people at a variety of operations over the past two years. Too many to list here, but a few of the bigger names are: Little Red Feather Racing, Sagamore Racing, and Sackatoga Stable. We also have a number of really cool projects in the works right now that are scheduled for release in 2020.
Favorite place at the racetrack to watch a race:
Saratoga Race Course. Travers Bar. Section 154. Last table on the left; where the horses enter the track.
Should the Breeders’ Cup rotate from coast to coast or have a permanent home:
Rotate. We just got back from Breeders’ Cup 2019 where Santa Anita Park again did a magnificent job hosting. It is always great to connect with racing fans in different parts of the country and we can’t wait to do this at next year’s Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland and 2021 at Del Mar.
*Did you know that Saratoga Springs gets less rain, and is only 7 degrees cooler (on average) for the month of November than Elmont, N.Y.?
Top three favorite racetracks in order:
Saratoga, Del Mar, Santa Anita
Most influential person in our career:
Our out-of-the-box idea for Thoroughbred racing:
Bring back match races
Other sports/teams we follow:
The three of us are all huge baseball fans. Individually, our favorite teams are the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Favorite athlete of all time:
Ty Cobb, Baker Mayfield, Paul Coffey
What book(s) we are reading or have recently read:
“The Travers: 150 Years of Saratoga's Greatest Race,” “Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown,” “Funny Cide” (again)
Saratoga Living, DRF, BloodHorse
Hobbies away from Thoroughbred racing:
Golf, skiing, spending time with our friends and family
“Let It Ride”
Anything at Shake Shack
Favorite vacation spot:
The Tragically Hip, The Glorious Sons, Pearl Jam
Five websites we visit daily:
America’s Best Racing, Paulick Report, DRF, Equibase, Racing Dudes
We’d like to have dinner with the following three people inside racing (who we have never dined with):
Mike Repole, Mike Smith, Ed Olczyk
We’d like to have dinner with the following three people outside of racing (who we have never dined with):
Sebastian Maniscalco, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Barrington
Best racetrack food can be found at:
The Chowder Bar located under the grandstand section G at Saratoga Race Course.
Accomplishment we are most proud of:
A win ticket on Mine That Bird in the 2009 Kentucky Derby
Our philosophy on life:
Never “box it”
Things we collect:
Vintage race programs, bourbon
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Hounds and Heroes, Racing for Home
Andrew Beyer, Joe Drape, Hunter S. Thompson
Favorite animal other than a horse:
Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended:
Waste Management (Phoenix) Open. Everyone should experience this.
Three words that define what Thoroughbred racing means to me:
Passion, tradition, lifestyle
Top three fashion brands you prefer to wear:
Old Smoke Clothing Co., Homage, Haspel
Favorite month of the year:
What apps are on your phone:
TVG, Stay Lucky, TrackWiz
Our biggest gambling score ever at the racetrack was:
2003 Travers Stakes
What is your go-to or signature bet to make at the racetrack:
Favorite fall holiday cocktail:
The Old Smoke at Morrissey’s Lounge, of course!
Favorite summertime cocktail:
Favorite all-time racehorse:
Favorite international racing event:
The Queen’s Plate
Three ways to attract more fans to the sport:
Better fashion options for fans, lower takeout, free entry at racetracks
Who wins the Super Bowl?
Who wins the college football playoff?
Ohio State Buckeyes