Family fuels passion for horses

Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ — Every time Andrew Steinberg goes to the racetrack, his family is on his mind as much as his horses.

Steinberg, who in his professional life is COO of the Villa Restaurant Group and counts an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” among his credits, is in his third year of horse ownership as Shermay Stables. The moniker combines the names of his late parents, Sherman and May.

Sherman, who passed away in 2010, owned an industrial paint manufacturing company, but his love was horses. Sherman operated Plumsted Farm in central New Jersey and enjoyed working with Standardbreds as a breeder and trainer.

Among his breeding successes was millionaire Giant Force, who won the 1993 International Trot at Yonkers Raceway. As a trainer, Sherman won a Breeders Crown elimination in 2000 with 2-year-old female trotter Golda Plumsted and finished fourth in the final.

“I blame him, and credit him as well, for getting me into this,” Andrew said with a laugh. “I grew up with the horses with my dad. That’s where I got my love for it. It was a lot of fun.

“After my parents passed away, I was driving home one day from work, and I called my wife and said I’ve got to reconnect; I want to get a horse. She said I should. It’s my passion. It’s the best thing I’ve done, truly.”

Andrew, a New Jersey resident, bought his first horse for Shermay Stables in 2019. He spent $37,000 on a filly trotter named Elsie May Hanover at the Standardbred Horse Sale and changed the name to May Karp in honor of his mom, who passed away in 2018. Her maiden name was Karp.

May Karp, trained by Lucas Wallin, had success on the Pennsylvania stakes circuit and finished third in the 2021 Kentucky Filly Futurity. She also hit the board in divisions of the Delvin Miller Memorial and Bluegrass Stakes on her way to $281,408 in lifetime earnings.

“No one wanted her because she was small,” Andrew said. “But she had the heart of a lion.”

Ruth Honig has three wins and two seconds in seven races, and earnings of $122,248. Geri Schwarz photo.

Last fall, Andrew purchased a filly trotter named Livonia at the Standardbred Horse Sale and renamed her Ruth Honig in memory of his father’s mom.

“I was at the sale with Lucas, and she was the last filly I liked,” Andrew said. “We thought she was going to someone else, but right before the gavel hit, they said there was a mistake and we ended up being lucky enough to get her.

“We thought we had lost her, and then we got her. Walking out, I told Lucas it was karma; that she was going to be good because we shouldn’t even own her.”

Ruth Honig has three wins and two seconds in seven races, and earnings of $122,248. The daughter of Chapter Seven-Lady Grey captured two preliminary divisions of the New York Sire Stakes and finished second by a head in the final. In her most recent start, she was second by a half-length to Brunella in the Standardbred Stakes at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio.

“So far, the names have helped; they’ve brought me luck,” Andrew said. “I get very emotional when my horses race, and when they do well. I really think about my dad and mom. Even though I’m 56, I miss them every day. I tear up. I’m not trying to be corny here, but I hope they’re proud and happy to see this.

“You just don’t get two fillies like this. I’ve been very lucky; I’m not ever going to discount that.”

On Friday, Ruth Honig returns to the Grand Circuit when she competes in the second of three $118,000 divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters at Lexington’s Red Mile. Brian Sears will drive the filly, who leaves from post four and is 8-1 on the morning line. Tony Alagna-trained Mambacita, who finished second in the Jim Doherty Memorial and New Jersey Sire Stakes championship, is the 4-1 favorite.

“She’s racing well,” Andrew said of Ruth Honig. “We’ll see how she does. It’s going to be tougher, but I think if we get a good trip, she can be right there.

“We really like her. I don’t know if we’ve seen the best out of her yet. She’s a very honest filly, very handy, and very professional. It’s like she’s been doing it forever. And she’s a sweetheart. Everyone loves her at the barn. She’s very personable.”

Andrew will be looking to add another trotting filly at this fall’s yearling sales while continuing to savor in the joys of horse ownership.

“I enjoy the whole process as much as the racing,” he said. “I showed up in zero-degree weather every weekend during the winter and watched them get her ready. It means so much more to be involved in all of it. I told Lucas I want to keep learning. He’s been great to me. He communicates with me, he teaches me things.

“I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I’m very fortunate. I just love it. I can never see myself without horses.”

Racing begins at 1 p.m. Friday at the Red Mile. For more about the day’s races, click here. For complete entries, click here.

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