Responses regarding this week’s post on the breeding history of the champion filly Tosmah sent me to research breeder Gene Mori and owner Tony Imbesi.
Mori was the primary mover in developing Garden State Park in New Jersey, which opened in 1942. Yes, during World War II.
The best filly that Mori raced was probably Cosmah, and the best that he bred was that mare’s daughter Tosmah. But nobody really knew what kind of broodmare Cosmah would be in 1961, when Tosmah was born.
The bay daughter of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Tim Tam was Cosmah’s fourth foal and first stakes horse. The mare’s first two foals were of racing age but had not shown anything (first foal Cosmark, a gelding by Mark-Ye-Well, won twice from 51 starts, and second foal Cosmiah, by Olympia, was unraced but became a good producer).
In terms of commercial value, Cosmah and her offspring were “on the bubble.”
So when Mori wanted to sell Tosmah and a couple other weanlings in 1961, this was the deal he made with Imbesi. The details became public once Tosmah had shown her form, and Mori was quoted in Daily Racing Form saying that “I gave the weanling to my friend, Tony Imbesi. He asked me to put a price on the weanling. I had no idea what she was worth. So I told him to take her and sometime later, when she showed what she was worth, he could use his own judgement. He owns the filly lock, stock and barrel, but up to now not a penny has changed hands.”
That is the kind of deal that would drive most people crazy.
But by mid-December of 1963, when Tosmah was champion 2yo filly, Joe Hirsch reported in the Morning Telegraph that “Gene Mori and Tony Imbesi concluded financial terms for the sale of the two-year-old filly champion, Tosmah. The price was in six figures.”
A winner in seven of eight races with earnings of $121,188 at 2, Tosmah presumably cost a bit more.
Imbesi could afford it. He made his money in fizz, as an investor in 7-Up and other soft drinks, and became enamored of breeding, racing, and the romance surrounding “the great triviality.”