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Herb OsterHerb Oster is a long-time thoroughbred racing enthusiast, owner and, for the last two years, Board Member of the Florida HBPA.
Before giving up his “snow bird” status and moving to Florida full-time, Herb served six years on the Board of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA), three years as an alternate and three years as a full member. It was his friend, and current FHBPA Board Member, Joe Orseno who encouraged Herb to run for the board in Florida.
“It’s funny because I didn’t know Joe from racing. We lived in the same building in Aventura. One day I was going to pick up my mail and I saw Joe with a copy of Bloodhorse. We struck up a conversation and have been great friends ever since,” he recalled.
During his tenure as a NYTHA Board Member, Herb dealt with many pressing issues facing the racing industry such as Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) and worker’s compensation.
“It has been my work on the backstretch that has proved the most rewarding and gratifying”, he stated. “I have devoted much of my time to the Benevolence aspect of the HBPA. I want to help make for the men, women, and their families who work behind the scenes of the racing industry a better, safer and warmer place.”
Herb previously was the Executive Vice President of the Belmont Childcare Association (BCCA). “The BCCA provides early childhood education for the children of the backstretch workers in New York. It’s my dream to implement the same kind of program at Gulfstream Park.”
Also, my concern for race horses following the end of their careers has led me to join the board of Take 2, which promotes second careers for retired race horses.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and lived in Westbury Long Island (home of the old Roosevelt Raceway) until recently when my wife Margie and I moved full time to Aventura.
How did you get involved in Horse Racing?
My passion for thoroughbred racing began when I was a young boy. Having always been a fan, one day I was in a client’s office and he had a copy of the Daily Racing Form on his desk. I came to find out that he owned horses. He and I partnered and went to an auction together where I bought my first horse. That was back in 1999.
Since entering the sport in a professional capacity, I have been the managing partner in two racing stables, Team Five Star Stables and Herbert J. Oster, LLC.
What memory stands out most?
The second sale I went to I bought two horses. One was a New York bred that wound up being named New York two-year-old of the year. The other was a Kentucky bred which we paid about $45,000 for and in his second race at Saratoga he got claimed for $75,000. I thought to myself, this is an easy game. But soon enough reality would set in.
Talk about your time on the FHBPA Board.
Let me start by saying I’ve always admired the people who work on the backstretch. How hard they work day in and day out. So, my emphasis when I got on the board was in Benevolence.
I started on the Benevolence committee and now I am the Chairman of the Benevolence committee. It’s very satisfying because we are able to do some great things.
For example, recently a backstretch worker came in about two-weeks ago and we were able to help pay for dentures. Afterward, the person came into the office and she was in tears, so happy to have them. Evidently, this person hadn’t had teeth in two years! It makes us feel really good to know we can do that for our backstretch workers.
All money allocated for Benevolence should be spent. After all, we have a lot of people who can use the assistance. So, it’s important we can help the track increase handle, because they go hand in hand. If we can increase handle, we can increase Benevolence.
We are working on getting a self-funding workers comp plan on a per-stall basis for the trainers and owners. It’s a very important issue because they are presently paying a lot in worker’s comp, and I’m hopeful this will help drive down costs.
Overall, everyone on the Board is working very hard and we all seem to have the same goal in mind, which is to improve racing, improve the product, improve the environment on the backstretch and develop a great working partnership with The Stronach Group and Gulfstream Park.
Tell us something about yourself even your friends may not know?
I used to be a school teacher, I taught in the New York City schools for ten years before I went into the financial planning business.
When I lived in Long Island I used to volunteer for Cerebral Palsy, and they started doing an annual show for fundraising. I had a part in Fiddler on the Roof, I sang and I danced. We also did Funny Girl and Lil’ Abner.
I like to sing but not so much with the dancing. In fact, my wife’s daughter had a baby just two years ago so I’m a grandfather again, and I keep in practice by singing to my granddaughter. Since she can’t talk that well yet, she can’t shut me up.