Perhaps one of the most famous quotes from American entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban would be “creating opportunities means looking where others are not.” That mindset is part of the reason why and how Shmuel Farhi first forayed into the harness racing industry.
Much like Mark Cuban, Shmuel Farhi is a successful businessman as the founder of Farhi Holdings Corporation, a company that owns and manages more than four million sq.ft. of properties across Ontario.
The question still remains as to how someone with plenty on his plate and with no family ties to the industry becomes involved in the sport. There are two answers: a passion for animals, and an eye for opportunity.
“I have a lot of love and passion for animals,” noted Farhi. “When I was a young kid I grew up in the kibbutz in Israel, I grew up with dogs and horses - they helped raise me.”
It was that passion for animals that led Farhi to purchasing a horse farm north of London, Ont. known as Windsong Acres. Farhi made this purchase a couple of years ago during a time when the harness racing industry may not be an investors’ top choice.
“I would always pass Bill Loyens’ farm on my way to my cottage in Grand Bend, I loved the location and the property so when the opportunity arose to purchase the farm, I could not let it pass,” Farhi told Trot Insider. “I thought maybe we can elevate this business to a higher level. So, I discussed the decision with my Board Of Directors.”
Windsong Acres, home of Farhi Standardbreds.
Farhi’s main associates are far from the average panel of directors.
“In my company, my Board Of Directors are different creatures - the Board consists of myself and my three dogs,” Farhi laughed. “So my three dogs and I voted to go on this new journey. My French Bulldog: Minni-Me, my Bernese Mountain Dog: Dubie and my Maltese: Zoey, the three of them voted if we should go into the horse business and we did.”
Farhi Holdings Corporation Board Of Directors, Zoe, Minni-Me & Dubie.
With that, Farhi has certainly gotten off in the harness racing industry on the right paw.
“This is an interesting business, it is nothing like anything I have ever done in the past. Up until this past month with everything that has gone on with COVID-19, my experience in this business has been fantastic,” said Farhi. “It has been a new journey and adventure for me that I have become very passionate about very quickly.”
The business mogul credits the help of Jim & Kim Laird, who have helped show him the ins and outs of the breeding business.
“Having Jim & Kim on my team has helped us to navigate the business to a new high,” stated Farhi. “We talk about quality instead of quantity matching great sires to great dams. Hopefully we will have some big winners in the future.”
One of those future champions may be the offspring of recently retired older pacing mare Double A Mint, who is owned by Farhi.
“Shmuel purchased her back in December when she was put on ongait.com,” said Jim. “She was racing at Mohawk and he wanted to keep racing her in Canada so she had a couple weeks off over the Christmas holidays. When Mohawk started racing again she came back strong and was racing well but with how the classes are at Mohawk and with the amount of horses racing, she wasn’t able to race every week. So, she either had to sit out and not race or race against the boys and racing against the boys was tough on her.
“Nevertheless, she always raced tough and always placed well and that prompted the decision to breed her,” Jim continued. “With the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 Shmuel also felt that right now she is more valuable as a broodmare so she is home now and has been bred to Captaintreacherous.”
Double A Mint victorious at Mohawk.
“It was the right decision after all because no one knows right now when they will race again,” added Farhi. “She is a tough mare and deserves the opportunity to be a broodmare.”
With the uncertainty involving the COVID-19 pandemic and the harness racing industry, Farhi sees the situation through optimistic eyes.
“If we take a look at history we can see that human beings have always overcome any type of obstacles that we have faced and I am confident that we will overcome this obstacle,” said Farhi. “The horse industry will survive this setback, come back stronger and move forward.”