Mike Repole has consummated several business deals that have made him a billionaire.
Yet from one perspective none of them could match the agreement he reached with Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing on April 29, a little more than a week before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Gr.1 Woodford Reserve.
Those emotions boiled over in a euphoric manner on June 11 in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets Gr.1 when the 3YO at the center of the April 29 deal, Mo Donegal, earned back every penny of the money Repole spent to buy a 25% share of him when the son of Uncle Mo charged to a three-length victory over the filly Nest in the $1.5 million final legs of the Triple Crown and gave Repole an unforgettable 1-2 finish in the race he has dreamed of winning for decades.
In giving winning trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth Belmont Stakes victory and topping a 1-2 finish for the seven-time Eclipse Award trainer in the 1 1/2-mile classic, Mo Donegal was the magnet that brought a massive crowd to the winner's circle from the camps of Repole and Donegal Racing.
Donegal accounted for about 200 of the 46,103 fans who turned out at Belmont Park Saturday, while Repole's Repole Stable brought about 80 guests.
Yet for Repole, who grew up in Queens and still calls himself "Mike from Queens" even though he only spends 28 days a year in the Empire State, this was truly a home game. He won his first Triple Crown race and the biggest race of the year at a track he has frequented since he was a teenager and where he can find a friend or acquaintance every time he turns a corner.
If there was a scene that told the story of the moment it was seconds after the race when Repole tried to fight back tears of joy while his young daughter, Gioia, jumped for joy and climbed all over her father.