CORTLANDT, N.Y. - Other than being with his family, there is nothing Charles Palombini enjoys more than horse racing.
"It's a passionate hobby and something that can be enjoyed as a family," said Palombini, a Cortlandt resident and retired CEO of Kobrand Corporation. "It's the competitive edge."
Palombini, former chairman of Cortlandt's Republican Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals, has owned more than 100 horses since 1985 and has three active horses in his stable.
His prized horse is a seven-year-old Stakes Win Colt called Little Nick, named after his grandson. Little Nick is one win away from qualifying for the Breeders Cup. Palombini also has a three-year-old filly named Fiftyfour Forever, a code he and his wife used when they were dating, and Mr. Algebra, a three-year-old colt named after the mule in Our Gang.
With a granddaughter on the way later this month, Palombini plans to purchase a fourth horse in her honor. Ironically, Palombini said he is allergic to horses and never goes into the barns. He will occasionally get near a horse in the winner's circle.
Like most horse enthusiasts, Palombini will be near a television today to watch the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, which he said is the unofficial start of the racing season, a season that goes until November.
"It's one of the most exciting days. It's a 100-year-old tradition," he said. "For three-year-old horses it's like a bar mitzvah or a debutante ball, going from childhood to adulthood. The Derby is the most exciting each year unless there is horse that has a chance at the Triple Crown, then it's the Belmont Stakes."
Palombini also said the Kentucky Derby is an opportunity for anyone to make a wager and "put your money where your mouth is."
And who does he think is the horse to beat? Union Rags.