Remembering Mike Taub

Boynton Beach, FL — Michael Alan “Mike” Taub, 66, a great friend, great relative, and “great horseman” died July 25, 2020, at the age of 66.

The first winter meet at Monticello in December 1971-January 1972 was an event of grand proportion. For me I met someone who would eventually influence a major change in my life. His name: Michael Taub.

A group of itinerant horsemen heard about this winter meet while racing in New Jersey and Delaware. Broke as could be we all decided to head north to the Catskills. Mike Taub, myself and a bunch of other renegades settled into the tack building up on top of the hill behind the barns. Mike seemed like a quiet young guy — about 18 at the time — who resided in Middletown, N.Y. Our friendship began one afternoon when he mentioned his birth date as Nov. 10. Same as mine, just separated by seven years.

During the winter meet the handle at Monticello was huge and some of us got a little lucky to win a few races. Mike included. After the meet was over the same vagabond group headed to New England: Rockingham and Foxboro. True gluttons for punishment with daily temperatures barely above zero. Again, Mike and I found reasons to talk and get to know each other better. Upon returning to Monticello in the spring we decided to share a bungalow down the road from the track.

In the spring of 1974, Mike invited me over to his house in Middletown to meet his family. He enticed me by saying his mom, Ida, was a great cook. Little did I know that he had ulterior motives in mind. Upon reaching his home — which was a beautiful horse farm on the outskirts of Middletown — I was honored and surprised to be treated so well. During dinner Mike’s older sister Lisa joined us. At that point I looked over at Mike and saw somewhat of a smile on his face — his ulterior motive for sure.

As you may guess over the next year Lisa and I became very close and in June of 1975 we married in the Catskills at a beautiful hotel. Forty-four years later Lisa and I plus our children Julie and Rob are a strong family. Thank you Mike.

Over the next dozen years Mike and I had individual stables but every once in a while Mike would ask me to drive a horse for him. The first time was with a pacing mare named Can Tar Joni. A slick pacer who had a bad habit of stopping the last eighth of a mile no matter who drove her or what kind of trip she would get.

At the time I had a pacing mare named Mouse Mouse, a fast mare who I was very happy to win many races with, always by sitting last and sweeping the field the third quarter. When Mike asked me to drive his mare I mentioned that I was going to try a Mouse Mouse move with her. Michael was a bit skeptical but it was my favorite way of driving. So on a Sunday afternoon I got away last with Can Tar Joni and swept the field to win. In the winner’s circle Michael was smiling but totally amazed at how we did that. My answer was easy: she needed a Jewish driver! The mare won three in a row and seemed to forget her quitting act.

In the early 1990s we decided to buy some horses. Mike picked out a $20,000 claimer named Ribb. Billy O’Donnell drove Ribb for us and won five races in a row at The Meadowlands. A great accomplishment by Mike in turning Ribb around to a winner.

I must admit though that being born on the same birth date — and having similar stubborn characteristics — we didn’t always come to the same conclusions — especially on horses. Mike claimed a mare named Decafe at The Meadowlands for a lifelong friend and me. Mike raced her a couple of times and her performance was mediocre. For whatever reason I decided to go down to the farm in Freehold to look at Decafe close up. My immediate opinion was “Those curbs on both hocks have to be stopping her.” Mike said he could tighten them up easily. But I decided to sell out my half interest to my partner only to see Decafe win her way up to being an Open pacer! As I said, stubbornness comes natural to those born on Nov. 10. Just a super training accomplishment by Mike.

Over the years Mike has had great success at The Meadowlands with his favorite horse Fixed Assets, who he purchased as a yearling in 1983. As a 2-year-old he was a strong stakes contender and raced many years for Mike in top company. As tough a racehorse as you ever wanted to see.

Around 2003 Mike purchased an import named Franco Catapult N for $20,000. He won seven in a row at the Big M all the way up to winning $100,000 claimers. Every horseman’s dream. Mike’s talent excelled.

Mike has stayed close to our family over the years. He was 66 and me 73 this year, making it a long friendship that I will never regret and always be profoundly thankful for. I graciously thank you Michael for your cleverness back in 1974.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

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