Magic Touch in Finding Prospects Takes BBN Racing’s Klatsky to the Kentucky Derby

Lifestyle
Brian Klatsky (left) and Brendan O’Brien of BBN Racing will be enjoying the Kentucky Derby experience for the first time in 2021 thanks to Hidden Stash, shown training at Churchill Downs. (Coady Photography/Courtesy of Brian Klatsky)

Whether it involves wealth management, potential Division 1 basketball players or Thoroughbreds, Brian Klatsky’s life revolves around prospects.

No wonder the divorced single father of two sons talks fast. No wonder colleagues are deprived of sleep by late-night conversations or jarred awake by early-morning texts or calls. Klatsky has a full-time job three times over.

He is a partner in New York-based Gold Coast Wealth Management. He started and oversees New Jersey-based Team Rio, a high-powered AAU program that develops girls and boys basketball players with an eye toward competing at the highest collegiate levels. And he is a founding partner in BBN Racing, which is national in scope and is enjoying startling early success. It has produced Hidden Stash, a Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve starter, from only the second crop of horses it purchased.

Most work a lifetime and never come close to a Derby horse. And yet the hard-driving Klatsky seemingly succeeds at every venture. It is almost as if he will not allow himself to fail.

Klatsky (right) with O’Brien and racing manager Braxton Lynch. (Brian Klatsky photo)

“For the things he loves, no one is going to outwork him. He’s tireless,” said Brendan O’Brien, who founded Gold Coast Wealth Management. He also joined Klatsky and racing manager Braxton Lynch in founding BBN, which stands for Big Blue Nation as a way of capitalizing on racing’s enormous popularity in Kentucky.

Even O’Brien is stunned by the magic touch Klatsky seems to bring to everything he approaches. BBN bought into Grade 1 winner Concrete Rose in its first year in addition to five yearlings. Hidden Stash, trained by Vicki Oliver, was purchased for a relatively meager $50,000 as a yearling at Keeneland’s September sale. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse’s legendary basketball coach, is among the large number of investors in the chestnut son of Constitution.

“You wouldn’t think to dream it,” O’Brien said of the emergence of Hidden Stash, the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby runner-up. “I don’t think anyone thought we’d have a Derby horse in the second iteration of our partnership.”

Each unit costs $25,000. BBN aims to sell at least 60 units per year, which allows it to set aside enough money to meet a horse’s expenses through the end of its 3-year-old season.

“I wanted new partners in horse racing to have a positive experience and not have a financial stress around it,” said Klatsky, 48. “You lose fun in the game when you get bills every month and the horses are not running good. That’s how people get burned out in the sport.

“With BBN, when you have six to eight horses in the crop and a horse has a bad two or three months and no purse money is coming in, it doesn’t matter. You’ve already got money reserved in the bank and you can go through those cycles.”

More than $100,000 is set aside to cover each horse’s expenses. Disciplined spending is a BBN cornerstone. Yearlings are typically pursued in the $75,000 to $225,000 range.

“We try to find and project horses that are athletes that will go the right way,” Klatsky said. Hidden Stash already has banked more than four times his purchase price with earnings of $231,062. He has failed to hit the board in only two of seven career starts, including a fourth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent effort.

According to Klatsky, he initially formed Team Rio to ensure that his sons, Alex, now 20, and Brandon, 17, would receive top coaching. The program, which includes former Rutgers coach Mike Rice, has helped to develop two McDonald’s All-Americans, Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine. Lewis went on to excel at the University of Florida while Antoine bolstered Villanova’s perennially strong program.

Team Rio fields girls’ and boys’ teams in each age group from 14-17. Klatsky noted that Team Rio involves more than basketball.

“I really emphasize the value of using basketball to create other opportunities in life,” he said. “I try to be realistic with the kids. As much as everybody wants to be a professional basketball player, the ball does stop bouncing at some point and you need to be prepared for life after basketball.”

Klatsky said he works with Team Rio players in areas such as interviewing skills, identifying internships and career planning.

“He gets involved in almost every aspect of the kids’ lives,” O’Brien said. “No matter is too small to help them with, from opening a bank account to picking the right sneaker. This is part of his energy, I guess, but he is always on the phone dealing with something.”

There is even a lesson in the success story that longshot Hidden Stash embodies and what he will mean to BBN partners when he and jockey Rafael Bejarano enter the Derby starting gate.

“Those are things in life that don’t have price tags,” Klatsky said. “Those are memories and experiences that you can’t buy.”

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