As a relative newcomer to horse racing, Bill Gallo is still learning some of the game’s many nuances. Having recently retired from running one of the world’s largest grain brokerage companies but still with interests in the movie and real estate business, he also knows about seizing an opportunity.
In the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the 69-year-old native New Yorker has found one. Gallo, a partner with Gulfstream-based trainer Jena Antonucci in Bella Inizio Farm, is one of a dozen stakeholders who put up $1 million for a spot second edition of the Pegasus, the unique and innovative brainchild of Stronach Group founder Frank Stronach.
With Antonucci’s guidance, Gallo worked out a deal with owner Solomon Del-Vallee to run multiple Graded-stakes winner Gunnevera in his spot. The 4-year-old colt remains in the care of trainer Antonio Sano at Gulfstream Park West.
“I just come to the track to see my horses run. I’m not the kind of guy that will sit there and bet on every race. It’s not me. I just love the experience,” Gallo said. “And what better experience can a guy like me have than getting a slot in the Pegasus World Cup, which I’m not likely to ever give up. I don’t think people really understand what the Stronach Group has done here. This is ingenious.”
Gallo said he was approached last year about purchasing a spot in the nine-furlong Pegasus, won by champion Arrogate in track-record time. Given his business background, Gallo chose instead to be an interested observer and was eager to join in once he saw the inaugural event’s success.
“In my quest to understand this business, the Pegasus World Cup was presented me in 2016 when they were first talking about the race. I thought about it and decided I didn’t know enough about the business. It’s a pretty big commitment,” Gallo said. “The next time it came around I said to myself, how else can you get involved at the highest level of the industry at an entrance fee that to me is quite reasonable, because you don’t have to have your own horse. You can go and negotiate with someone else, a Grade 1 horse that has a chance of winning.
“I left it up to Jena to find that horse. I strongly believe that the image of the Thoroughbred racing industry needs to be improved and the best way to improve it is to go global. This is what they’re attempting to do with the Pegasus World Cup – get the best horses in the world.”
Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, Gallo said his involvement in racing goes back five or six years to when he was asked by a group of college friends if he wanted to get in on a horse in a partnership that used Antonucci as its trainer. Gallo also had horses in California in partnership with Swag Stables, including Mike Man’s Gold, a multiple stakes winner with nearly $300,000 in career purses.
Ultimately, Gallo decided that he wanted to own his own horses, which run under the GalloStables banner. For the first time last year he got involved in pinhooking, visiting sales in Ocala, Kentucky and Saratoga Springs buying horses to later sell.
“I’m not the average guy that’s been brought up in the race business. I just got involved a few years ago,” Gallo said. “What I did was I traded grain my entire life. That’s pretty volatile. Physical grain, not futures, moving it on ships all over the world. To me, I view the horse business as a commodity.
“I don’t fall in love with the animal, even though I think he’s a magnificent beast. Initially I was brought into the industry to have fun. I can have fun and, if you make money at it, you can have a lot more fun,” he added. “That’s exactly why I’m in the industry and I’m looking forward to the years ahead.”
For decades Gallo, who owns homes in New York and Florida, was the senior managing partner and majority owner of Pasternak Baum and Co., an international grain brokerage company that was acquired in 2008 by Japanese trading company Marubeni Corp. Following the purchase, Gallo established Columbia Grain Trading Inc. which he developed into the No. 1 supplier of soybeans to China in the four years prior to his late 2017 retirement.
Gallo is majority owner of Amasia Entertainment, a motion picture production company that produced movies such as 2013’s The Call with Halle Berry and 2016’s Mr. Right with Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. Amasia is run by Gallo’s oldest son Bradley, 40, while 38-year-old Darren operates DWG Management, Gallo’s real estate company.
Gallo’s youngest son, Ross, is a Los Angeles-based actor. All three will be in attendance with Gallo at the Pegasus.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a lot of fun,” Gallo said. “When I had horses out west, I was never there. I was always here. I never saw the horses, and then I started to go to Gulfstream and meet with Jena and visit the stable and watch the horses breeze and I got really into it. I really like it.
“It’s a very interesting business, and it fits with my commodity mentality. It’s a risk and you have to know how to hedge a risk just like we hedge ourselves in the grain business. It’s been fascinating. There’s ways of making money in this industry, you’ve just got to work at it. You’ve got to take the risk. That’s what I’m doing here with Pegasus. No risk, no reward.”