Bob Boni has always had a good eye for a horse. It was his keen sense of pedigree and conformation that prompted him to inspect and select world champion Nihilator as a yearling on a cold morning in February at the colt’s birthplace in Indiana.
Fast forward 30-plus years and Boni finds himself associated with another world champion from Indiana, Always B Miki, who is the fastest Standardbred of all time. It is this sharp eye for horseflesh that has helped Boni develop his own Northwood Bloodstock into one of North America’s leading harness horse sales agencies over the last several decades.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. When the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association holds its 58th annual awards banquet on December 4 at the Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club, Boni will receive the chapter’s highest honour – the lifetime achievement award.
A native of NYC’s borough of Queens, Boni’s interest in harness racing began at Roosevelt and Yonkers during his childhood. “In those days,” he notes, “everyone owned a horse or a piece of a horse. And, my Dad was no different. It was a very popular form of entertainment!”
This ‘family ownership’ began when Boni was in the fourth grade, and eventually led to weekend and summer work on the backstretch at Roosevelt Raceway. However, by his early twenties, Boni yearned for a change of scenery from what he had grown accustomed to in the Big Apple.
The aspiring horseman jumped into his car and drove from NYC to Goshen Historic Track where he met with Harry Pownall Sr., trainer for the famed Arden Homestead Stable.
“You hiring?” Boni politely asked. But it was not to be. The Pownall/Arden Homestead crew were well entrenched and caretakers rarely left that successful stable.
So he continued on his quest and found himself in Pine Bush, New York at Pine Hollow Stud Farm, one of the two premier farms in the state at the time.
He met the farm manager, Jack Adams, who asked the young Boni, “Who did you work for in Westbury?” Boni replied, “George Butterworth, sir. I worked for George Butterworth.”
Adams hired him on the spot, noting that “If you can work for that guy, you can work for anybody!”
Boni continued to work for Pine Hollow for the next 11 years, ascending to the position of vice president, until he went out on his own in 1980. And the rest, as they say, is history.
This year, in addition to the year-end awards for horses and horsepeople from the local tracks, the Monticello-Goshen chapter will also honour Keith Hamilton (Excelsior Award); Kenneth Jacobs (John Gilmour Good Guy Award); Dave Little (Phil Pines Award); Roger Dowd (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award); Robert Krivelin (Amateur Driver); Justin Huckabone (Rising Star); and Denise DeSimone (Award of Appreciation).
Tickets for the gala event can be reserved by contacting Shawn Wiles at 845-794-4100 (Ext. 458) or email [email protected].