Success is best when shared with family, friends, Belmont winner says

horse races

“To win the Belmont Stakes? I’ve always said this is about family and people. I’m going to have 70 people here. I’m going to be with great partners like Donegal and Eclipse. That makes it special for me. Win or lose we’re going to have a great time.”

— Mike Repole

The day dawned in perfect form for a horse race in Elmont, New York, with big clouds in a bright blue sky, 70 degrees in the forecast. In the weeks leading up to it, my interest peaked when I read about “Mike from Queens” having not one, but two horses qualify to run in the 154th Belmont Stakes. His interviews portrayed a happy guy who was amazed by it all. 

“I used to fall asleep dreaming of my horse overtaking the strong leader at the Belmont … like other kids might dream of sinking the 3-point shot at the buzzer,” Repole said. 


This is a fellow who used to cut out of school with 20 bucks in his pocket and head to the race track, eager to turn enough profit so he could pay that money back to his parents and keep a little for himself.

“Listen, this has been a dream race of mine since I was a kid. When I was a kid, I didn’t know where Kentucky was. I didn’t know if the Preakness was at Churchill or Pimlico. But I would come out to Belmont. I would go to Aqueduct more because it was easier to get to from Queens.” 

Part owner of the horse Mo Donegal, Repole had cheered his pick to fifth in the Kentucky Derby last month, and his filly Nest qualified for the Belmont after a great showing at Kentucky Oaks. 

“To have not one but two horses running here today is just surreal,” he said earlier on that day. 

To later witness these two horses finish first and second was surely a dream come true for Repole. 


In a sport that holds a winning circle that has become a melting pot of very wealthy investors from all over the globe, seeing the successful hometown boy in the stands surrounded by dozens of his family and friends, and at race end holding back tears of joy and gratitude in the moment, was powerful and sweet.

The crowd joining him in the winning circle was expected to be enormous, and Repole was proud to confirm that. 

“I’m always going to be Mike from Queens, but to win this here with my family and friends — success is best when shared,” he said as his family jumped for joy all around him. 

There was not a bit of doubt that his statement came genuinely from the heart.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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