Successful breeder, owner Spielman passes at 83

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Michael Spielman, as at home watching a race from the backstretch at Saratoga as an owner’s box in the clubhouse, passed away in early April.

By Tom Law

Longtime successful New York owner and breeder Michael Spielman, who made the shrewd purchase of Compliance out of a horses of racing age sale and played a key role in the stallion becoming a leader in the Empire State, died in early April in South Florida at the age of 83.

A native of Brooklyn who grew up in Cedarhurst, New York, Spielman attended Lawrence High School and Union College. He met his wife Alix during those years and the couple later had three daughters – Amy, Wendy and Stacey.

A longtime resident of Oyster Bay, New York, Spielman ran a manufacturing company in Hudson. Spielman stayed in touch with his many friends from childhood throughout his life and joined with one of those friends, the late owner and breeder Richard Bomze, in 1982 to purchase Compliance as a stallion prospect for $125,000 out of the Windfields Farm dispersal at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga horses of racing age sale.

A stakes-placed son of Northern Dancer and full-brother to eventual European classic winner El Gran Senor and Group 1 winner Try My Best, Compliance started his stallion career in New York at Keane Stud in Amenia. He later stood at The Stallion Park in Millbrook. One of the Empire State’s leading sires of all-time, Compliance is perhaps best known for siring full brothers Fourstardave and Fourstars Allstar.

“He loved the early morning workouts, talking with the trainers, going back to the barn and chatting and sharing stories with other horse people,” Spielman’s family said. “As much as he enjoyed the owner’s box, he equally if not more loved watching a race from the backstretch in Saratoga. He would take everyone there.”

Top horses bred by Spielman include multiple graded stakes winner Casa Eire and stakes winners Seminole Spirt and Dreamboat Annie.

Casa Eire and Seminole Spirt were foaled at Tom and Dr. Mia Gallo’s Blue Stone Farm in Cambridge. Tom Gallo, former president of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., remembered Spielman as relaxed and savvy.

“I knew him for years and years. We did a lot of business, not lately, but for a long time,” Gallo said. “He was a real, super, easy-going guy, but he was game. He put his money where his mouth was.”

Casa Eire, a daughter of Compliance out of the Upper Case mare Casarette, went 4-4-3 in 30 starts and earned $279,778. She won the Grade 3 Astoria Breeders’ Cup Stakes as a 2-year-old on the dirt at Belmont Park and defeated males in the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes as a 3-year-old on the turf at Belmont. Casa Eire also won the Egret Stakes at the Meadowlands, placed in the Grade 2 Adirondack and Grade 3 Miss Grillo and placed in five other stakes.

Seminole Spirt compiled a record of 6-9-9 in 61 starts, over eight seasons and including a lengthy stint over jumps, and earned $198,320. Third in the Empire Stakes and fourth in the Grade 3 Pilgrim, the son of Compliance out of the Hasty Flyer mare Hello Poppy won the Damon Runyon in 1993.

Dreamboat Annie, a daughter of Freud out of the Honour and Glory mare Extra Impact, won the 2015 Cupecoy’s Joy division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes at Belmont. She won four of 17 starts with five placings and earned $195,645.

Spielman also teamed with Bomze to purchase Morning Bob for a price reported to be more than $1 million in May 1984 and before making a run at the 116th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Previously trained by Woody Stephens and in the same barn as the likes of Swale and Devil’s Bag, Morning Bob won the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in late May for his prior connections and started for Mike-Rich Stable in the Belmont 11 days later. Supplemented for $7,500, Morning Bob finished third and 7 lengths behind Swale in the Belmont.

“He loved the excitement of owning and racing horses, especially taking Morning Bob to the Belmont, but the real joy to him was being around the stables, especially in Saratoga,” Spielman’s family said. “Of course he loved Belmont, and later Gulfstream, but our summers in Saratoga were the highlight of his love for racing.”

Morning Bob made 25 additional starts for Spielman and Bomze after the Belmont and through the end of the 1985 season, winning the Grade 2 Excelsior Handicap and placing in six other stakes, including the 1984 Travers at Saratoga.

“I had mares on my farm for him for years and years,” Gallo said. “He was the nicest guy in the world, always had a smile on his face and never had a bad word to say about anybody. He invested a lot, had a farm in Hudson and at one time owned like 20 something mares.”

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