Reiley Higgins is one of five members of the Boat Racing, LLC partnership that owns a significant financial stake in Hot Rod Charlie, the third horse they ever owned who posted a front-running, two-length victory in the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 20 at Fair Grounds and later finished third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. After a runner-up finish in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, Hot Rod Charlie earned his first Grade 1 win in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 25 at Parx Racing.
Boat Racing was the inspiration of Patrick O’Neill, the nephew of trainer Doug O’Neill and bloodstock agent Dennis O'Neill, and his former Brown football teammates Eric Armagost, Dan Giovacchini, Alex Quoyeser, and Higgins. The partnership is named for a beer-chugging game they played as Theta Delta Chi fraternity brothers.
Higgins took some time out of his schedule for a fun question-and-answer session before Hot Rod Charlie, or “Chuck” as they like to call him, competes in Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
My introduction to horse racing occurred when: I was about 5 years old at Del Mar opening weekend. My parents, neighbors, and kids/friends would bus down to Del Mar every year.
What I do for a living: Work in financial services for PNC Bank.
What I like about Thoroughbred racing: Competition! And, true teamwork and hard work of the many important people that work to make a racehorse’s life incredible.
How I became an owner: Through the formation of Boat Racing LLC. Myself and four college buddies decided it’d be a great way to enhance our friendship and make sure we don’t lose tough with one another and our fun-loving roots.
Best advice to someone considering ownership: Do it for the love of the horse and game.
Favorite place at the racetrack in which to watch a race: The O’Neill’s box at Del Mar.
Should the Breeders’ Cup rotate from coast-to-coast or have a permanent home: Rotate! Love how it takes on a new home each year and allows the local fans a chance to join in on the fun.
My top three favorite racetracks in order: Del Mar, Keeneland, Churchill (yet to make it to Saratoga but heard awesome things!)
Most influential person in my career: My father
My out-of-the-box idea for Thoroughbred racing: Bring back match races. Could you imagine a Hot Rod Charlie vs. Essential Quality match race?
Other sports/teams I follow: Notre Dame Football, go Irish!
My favorite athletes of all-time: Tom Brady
What book(s) I am reading or have recently read: “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” (by William Finnegan)
Hobbies away from Thoroughbred racing: Golf, surf, triathlon, poker
Favorite movies: “Remember the Titans”
Favorite TV shows I watch: “Survivor”
Favorite foods: Ethiopian Food
Favorite vacation spot: Mexico
Favorite musician/band: ODESZA
Favorite actor: Denzel Washington
Top websites I visit daily: Yahoo Finance, HRN
Most used five apps on my phone are: Email, Texting, Twitter, Spotify, Whoop
I’d like to have dinner with the following three people inside racing: Mike Smith, Mike Joyce, Sheik Mohammed
I’d like to have dinner with the following three people outside of racing: Elon Musk, Tom Brady, Joe Rogan
Best racetrack food can be found at: Keeneland
Accomplishment I am most proud of: Graduating Brown University and playing football all four years.
My philosophy on life: Be Happy!
Things I collect: Hot Rod Charlie memorabilia
Favorite animal other than a horse: Dolphin
Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended: 2010 College Football National Championship (Texas vs. Alabama)
Three words that define what Thoroughbred racing means to me: Friendship, Competition, Electric
Favorite month of the year: December
My biggest gambling score ever at the racetrack was: Insignificant
What is your go-to or signature bet to make at the racetrack: Win-Show
If you could pick walk-up music that would play whenever Hot Rod Charlie entered a winner’s circle after a win, what song would you pick: Ja Rule, “Livin' It Up”
Favorite fall holiday cocktail: Moscow Mule
Favorite summertime cocktail: Tequila soda
Favorite all-time racehorse: Hot Rod Charlie (Zenyatta outside him)
Favorite racehorse currently competing: Hot Rod Charlie
Three ways to attract more fans to the sport: Do something in between races (concerts, Betting 101, etc.); make it easier for the everyday person to understand betting; promotions similar to “Dollar Days” at Golden Gate Fields.
Who wins the Super Bowl this year? Hot Rod Charlie ... I mean the Arizona Cardinals
Who wins the College Football Playoff? NOT ALABAMA