Updated on 09/17/2011 10:31AM

Partners' roots go back to tiny town

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Jack Knowlton is the managing partner of Sackatoga Stable, which owns Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide.

NEW YORK - Jack Knowlton, the managing partner of Sackatoga Stable, which owns Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, put it this way:

"We're just kids from the wrong side of the tracks. We weren't supposed to win the Derby."

The wrong side of the tracks for Knowlton and five other of the 10 partners in Funny Cide is Sackets Harbor, a small town on the edge of Lake Ontario in western New York, 60 miles north of Syracuse, with a population of 1,386.

Knowlton and partners Jon Constance, Harold Cring, brothers Mark and Peter Phillips, and Larry Reinhardt grew up in Sackets Harbor and, with the exception of Knowlton, still live there or in neighboring communities. Three of them even share the same street address.

Eighteen years ago, Knowlton moved to Saratoga Springs, where he owns Empire Health Advisors, a health-care consulting company. His wife of 34 years, Dorothy, is the owner of a shoe store, Saratoga Soles.

In addition to the six from Sackets Harbor, there are four other partners in Funny Cide: Gus Williams, David Mahan, Lew Titterton, and Eric Dattner.

There are no billionaires or members of a royal family in this bunch. Sackatoga Stable is made up of everyday folks, who ply their trades 9 to 5 or are enjoying retirement after long careers. Among the partners are a caterer, teacher, optician, retired house builder, and owner of a construction company.

Knowlton raced harness horses for 12 years before asking five of his friends from Sackets Harbor High School if they wanted to pony up $5,000 each to buy a Thoroughbred eight years ago. Some of Knowlton's buddies had never seen a horse race, but everyone agreed that owning a horse sounded like a lot of fun. The first horse bought by Sackatoga Stable was named Sacket's Six, a New York-bred gelding who won three races for the partners before he was claimed.

Before Funny Cide came along, the partners were thoroughly enjoying themselves with their modestly successful small stable of New York-bred runners. With money from a recent claim in Sackatoga's kitty, the partners were able to purchase Funny Cide for $75,000 in the spring of 2002 on the recommendation of trainer Barclay Tagg.

Funny Cide raced into the history books in the Kentucky Derby by becoming the first New York-bred to win the race in its 129 runnings and the first gelding to win since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.

Sackatoga Stable has three horses in its stable and doesn't plan to expand greatly on that number, even though Funny Cide earned $800,200 in the Derby and boosted his career mark to $1,239,185.

"We're not a bunch of rich guys," Knowlton said. "We're going to play the game at the same level. We are definitely very comfortable with four or five horses. It's a nice fit for us."

Jack Knowlton

Age: 56 Residence: Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Occupation: Owns Empire Health Advisors, a health-care consulting company

Ownership Interest in funny cide: 20 percent

"That day Funny Cide was the best horse. Nobody can take that away from us."

Gus Williams

Age: 77 Residence: Delmar, N.Y.

Occupation: Retired house builder

Ownership Interest: 20 percent

"It's just fantastic to win a Derby after only having horses for four years. There are people in the business for 35 years, and they will never have a horse like this."

Dave Mahan

Age: 55 Residence: Watertown, Conn.

Occupation: Owns Mahan's Lakeview Fine Catering

Ownership Interest: 20 percent

"When we were waiting to walk over with the horse to the paddock, I saw Churchill Downs in front us, with all the noise and people. I said, 'Guys, you really need to savor this moment. When you're having a bad day, you can always think about this happy place.' "

Lew Titterton

Age: 58 Residence: Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Occupation: President of Nymed, a health-care company

Ownership Interest: 10 percent

"The best thing about this experience is how nice people have been. I've got calls from all over - even England - saying how fantastic of a thing this is."

Eric Dattner

Age: 67 Residence: Little Neck, N.Y.

Occupation: Retired mechanical engineer

Ownership Interest: 10 percent

"My first winner [as an owner] was at Belmont in 1971. This is a dream come true."

Jon Constance

Age: 54 Residence: Sackets Harbor, N.Y.

Occupation: Retired as mayor of Sackets Harbor in March. Owner of an optical retail store.

Ownership Interest: 4 percent

"I was at the Derby with my family and to share that moment together was very emotional for us."

Harold Cring

Age: 54 Residence: Sackets Harbor, N.Y.

Occupation: Part owner of Bette & Cring construction company

Ownership Interest: 4 percent

"This has just been so phenomenal. I didn't realize how many people were pulling for us in New York."

Mark Phillips

Age: 55 Residence: Sackets Harbor, N.Y.

Occupation: Part-time teacher at a community college after retiring from his 33-year job as a high school math teacher

Ownership Interest: 4 percent

"I never really saw the end of the race because when [Funny Cide] went past me he was in front with about 100 yards to go and I knew no one would catch him. We started to celebrate then. There was a lot of screaming and my [eye] glasses broke in the process."

Peter Phillips

Age: 59 Residence: Sackets Harbor, N.Y.

Occupation: Safety specialist at Bette & Cring construction company

Ownership Interest: 4 percent

"I got separated from everyone going to winner's circle, and I got lost. I had to ask a lady who congratulated me, 'Where is the winner's circle?' I was the last one to get there."

Larry Reinhardt

Age: 56 Residence: Sackets Harbor, N.Y.

Occupation: Senior project manager at Bette & Cring construction company

Ownership Interest: 4 percent

"We've never been in this business to make money. At the end of the day, we are the same people."