“Some day I’d like to own a horse” a 12 year old Mike Gulotta said to his grandfather on his first trip to a harness racing track. Many years later, that dream has come true for the CEO of Deo Volente Farms.
Starting out attending races at Yonkers Raceway, Gulotta first bought a few claimers (A claiming race is one in which the horses are all for sale for more or less the same price up until shortly before the race) when he was able. From there he tried yearlings and then broodmares as his farm grew. “The horses are just majestic beautiful animals. They have personalities, they’re wonderful creatures.”
The first major stakes race win for Gulotta came at the She’s a Great Lady, the counter part to the Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack. Worldly Beauty, his 2 year old filly at the time, took 1st place and to this day remains “very very special in our hearts.”
One of his proudest memories of working with horses is embodied in Wishing Stone, now standing at stud on the farm. Wins on two continents is certainly enough to be proud of, but this double millionaire horse has also set world records a number of times.
Racing isn’t just about records and championships though for Gulotta, and he’s used some of the race purses to give back. While his horse Lis Mara won the Breeder’s Crown in world record time (1:47.6), he helped us build houses for homeless families in Haiti. Over his career, Lis Mara built 21 houses for 21 homeless families, a school in Haiti and even has a street named after him, Lis Mara Drive.
“Harness racing is a sport, it’s a tradition, it’s a way of life,” says Gulotta. “It’s also about allowing people to band together to realize a dream of owning a horse, and owning a racehorse.”
This interview is part of our new weekly features of faces in the sport, from fans to owners, trainers to grooms.