Vice: What’s your dream job? Is it to work in racing in the UK?
Bob Nastanovich: I’d love to. Over there they have American horse racing on television, and the people who analyze it seem pretty second rate. I’d love to somehow position myself to get a job like that. Also, Americans can now bet on English racing in the morning through the TVG network. And if that were ever to become more popular, I’d love to analyze English racing because I’ve been to 55 of the 60 English racecourses. It’s been my hobby for the last 20 years. I feel like I know as much about English racing as any American.
How much different is English racing and American racing?
Between the top classes, not much. There’s a lot more racing over here though, so the product can get a little diluted. They don’t run on drugs over there—to me, that’s significant. It’s still the sport of kings over there, so you don’t get that many people like me owning horses, and if they do, they make up like 1% of owners. It’s mostly the English landed gentry vs. the sheikhs of Dubai. And then you have Coolmore, a very powerful racing empire in Ireland. Lots of incredibly wealthy people. I think horse racing is of higher quality over there, but the best horse in the world right now is Curlin, and he’s very much an American horse. He just humiliated them in the Dubai World Cup, beating everything the world’s got.
CURLIN WINS 2008 DUBAI WORLD CUP
So how would you navigate a Pavement reunion?
I would call my bosses in horse racing and ask for a six-month leave of absence. And I hope when the smoke cleared I could get some semblance of my job back. I would prioritize a Pavement reunion over any other form of employment at this point. I don’t plan my life like it is going to happen, but I’m hopeful that it will. You know, Gary would be involved. Steve West would be involved. It would be a six-man band. Gary would play on his songs and Westie would play on his.
So it’s been discussed enough to say that Gary would be involved? Like let’s pull out all the stops?
Oh sure… Let’s give them everything we’ve got. There’s a game plan, it’s just a matter of—
Not before 2010… I think Malkmus would consider the idea over 2009… and I’m hoping something would occur between January and August of 2010. I say hopefully cause it would get me out of debt on these horses [laughs]. It’s amazing to me how much interest there still is in Pavement. And among people that were little kids when the band was happening. But ultimately, it’s Steve’s decision, and whatever he decides I’m completely cool with. He’s the one who wrote most of the songs, would have to do most of the singing, a lot of the guitar playing, and most of the talking.
How many horses do you own?
Too many. Although, I’ve sold a few in the last ten days just out of necessity, because they weren’t doing any good. I’ve got one here in Iowa, a three-year-old filly. Then I’ve got a five-year-old in Boston, and three brood mares. I’ve got a new baby. I’ve got a two-year-old filly that just started training in Kentucky. I’ve got a one-year-old filly. That might be it. I always leave out one. I just sold probably the best horse I’ve ever had—Free Drinks—because he injured himself last year, and we didn’t think he’d make his way back to the tracks. He did, but he wasn’t anywhere near as good—he was still affected by his injury, either physically or mentally, so we sold him.
Who takes a horse in that circumstance?
People who go to really small tracks. People who buy horses for 1 to 2,000 dollars. There’s so much racing in this country—too much, to be honest with you. There’s so much low quality stuff, like at Suffolk in Boston. That’s a low-grade racetrack. Half the horse races there you won’t see a horse that’s worth more than 2 or 3,000 bucks. But people train them and take care of them, in some cases better than a horse that’s worth 100,000 dollars. You can’t really look down your nose at the people at those tracks, because some of them are great horsemen. They’ve always had cheap horses and they’ve managed to carve out a living. There’s also a lot of people who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. It’s a strange game.
Do you have high aspirations for any of your horses?
You always have dreams. The three-year-old filly here has talent. Every time you breed one, even though it’s a long shot considering the level and investment that I’m on—which is a few thousand dollars for stallion fees—you breed one with the idea you might get a nice horse out of it. It only takes one good one. If I sold a horse for $60,000 instead of $4,000, I’d get out on six or seven bad ones. It’s just been complete tomfoolery for the last ten years trying to compete against people that have 100,000 more chips than I do. It’s cost me a lot of money.
What would you guess your monthly outlay is?
It would take me a good while to figure out. I don’t own any horse outright. I own up to 50 percent of some, and generally I own 25-50% of all of them. If a horse is in training, they cost $2,000 to $2,500 a month. And if they’re not, and they’re on the farm—I have a friend who breeds horses and has a small farm south of Lexington that charges me about $350 a month when horses are being boarded or laid up. All the babies and mares are out there—and that’s a good deal, about half the price of the industry standard. So yeah, it is just ridiculous, with the income that I make.