Event organizer

Lisa Cherry — Chef and Chief Organizer

by Victoria Howard

This month’s superstar may not have grown up with horses or was born into a harness racing family, but that all changed when Lisa met and married Eric Cherry, one of the main owners of this sport.

Currently, the Cherrys own over 350 standardbreds.

“I met my husband when we were looking to collaborate on a possible business venture. It wasn’t until 2014 that we started a relationship, and since then we’ve been great partners, both business and staff,” Lisa said.

Q: How did Eric get involved in harness racing?

“In 1969, Eric started going to races at the age of 16. He loved sports and betting on horses. In 1972, Eric bought several horses and really enjoyed it – until his trainer at the time cheated on him. So, Eric dated for a few years.

“On April 4, 1978, he missed the business so much that he came back claiming Henri Filion’s Super Game and has been in the game ever since.”

But horse racing is not Eric’s first successful adventure. Several of Cherry’s lucrative ventures were his “pay per call” telephone industry and the early days of the Internet for his billing company.

Eric’s latest innovative venture is his hugely successful online horse selling company, On Gait.

“In 2001 – a month before 9/11 – Eric and his partner Maurice Chodash started On Gait, which sells around 600 horses every month and has sold over $35 million so far this year alone.

“For many years people said to Eric, ‘You can’t sell horses online successfully’, but my husband’s response was, ‘People say things can’t happen until they don’t,'” Lisa said.

Over the past few years, I’ve become friends with the Cherry’s and have spent many nights at their home, where Lisa is by far the ‘most hostess’.

As we watch our horse race from their professionally decorated theater room, Lisa serves up many amazing dishes, all made from scratch. She’s Italian and deserves to have learned her grandmother’s recipes, but I’m also Italian and can barely boil water.

Believe me – I know good food – and Lisa Cherry can put her food up against that of Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsey and Emeril Lagasse, and she’ll hold her own.

The Cherrys have a trophy room in their home, displaying photos and awards from major races they’ve won. The first horse Eric bred was Shadow Dance, which is one of his all-time favourites. Another is Tug River Princess and her offspring.

This year, Tug River Princess has a first year filly, Proud Mary, who has proven to be a very good one and, as her name suggests, makes the Cherrys proud.

Another personal favorite of Eric is the millionaire mare, Drop The Ball – the dam of New Year (Somebeachsomewhere) and Butterfingers (Sweet Lou).

If I had to describe Eric Cherry, I would say he’s a genius. He has the mind of a brilliant mathematician and everything he touches seems to turn to gold.

He is by far one of the best owners in the sport and we are lucky to have him as he pours a huge amount of money into breeding, buying and racing standardbreds every year.

“Currently we have over 135 broodmares and also support a few stallions that we are very interested in. The first is Heston Bluechip, who my husband believes will be one of the best sires in the industry.

“Eric has made it almost a crusade in his belief in Heston and I think this year we’re starting to see that come to fruition thanks to his progeny Fulton and Square Deal, among others.

“We also have great interest in the Bettors stallion Wish, as well as Hes Watching, Sunfire Blue Chip and Stag Party.

“And we have shares in the top stallions, Papi Rob Hanover and Captain Crunch. Oh, and I can’t forget Badlands Hanover, who are now 26 and have been so good to us.

ERIC AND LISA CHERRY’S TRAINERS

“I love that we have so many passionate and hard working trainers. They are Brett Pelling, Nifty Norman, Linda Toscano, Noel Daley, Chris Ryder, Virgil Morgan, Ian Moore, Jeff Webster, Megan Scran, Mike Hall, Ron Burke and Tony Alagna. I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone. »

LISA’S FAVORITE HORSES

“I have a few. My first big win was when I started handicapping. Although I was never really one to bet, I learned from the best – Eric. learned, he encouraged me to make a bet.

“One night I bet Evening Of Pleasure 35 to 1 and he won. I’m now addicted to gambling – if that’s possible,” Lisa said with a laugh.

“My first favorite standardbred to own was Skinny Dipper. After watching a YouTube video about the great Somebeachsomewhere, I knew I had to have one of his babies.

“At that time, Eric owned a year-old Beach filly, and knowing how much I wanted one, he gave her to me. She ended up winning over $200,000 for us – with her many antics .

“His roommate was Call Me Queen Be and both fillies achieved the breeders crown at the age of 3. The queen took the crown and the purse.

“Our fastest horse is Allywag Hanover – 1:46.4, closely followed by Tattoo Artist – 1:47.1. Jimmy Freight has also joined our stable recently.

“But my favorite racehorse story is about the horse Springsteen. Although we were the underbids, I chose him based on my first analysis of his pedigree. He was magnificent and I’m still following his career.

Q: After all these years and having owned many great horses, does Eric get nervous or excited when his horses are racing?

“Yes, Eric is very excited. You’ve been over our house and seen him pacing our theater room faster than the horse sometimes,” Lisa said with a laugh.

“Sometimes he is more nervous than other times – it all depends on what this race means to him. For the ‘big’ races, and especially when our horses are racing, he gets really nervous.

“Of course you can’t win all the time, because anything can go wrong in a race, but his frustration and disappointment don’t last long. He says to me, ‘If you don’t feel the pain of losing, you don’t ‘will not have the pleasure of winning.’

Watching the races on their five huge televisions is a daily ritual for the Cherrys. Live races are streamed from many racetracks across the country. Even if they don’t have one of their own horses, they watch the races for potential purchases or to place bets.

Although Eric seems to be great at everything he does, he lacks one thing and that’s where his wife, Lisa, comes in.

Q: Lisa, what is your personal contribution to the success of Cherry Racing Legacy?

“Although Eric has many qualities, organization is not one of his strong points. Since we currently have 60 horses racing and over 135 broodmares, I keep all the records – from where they race to who the riders are, and if there are any conflicts. I also keep records of all brood mares, who they are in foal to and the foal that is next to them now.

“Every day I write down schedules and future stake entries. This helps both of us with any changes. Additionally, I recently started posting our highlights to our Let It Ride stable on Facebook.

“Eric and I are totally absorbed in the sport. Since we have been together many of his horses have won major prizes but unfortunately to date Eric has not. He has however won prizes in past industries for its innovations.

“Our goal is to continue what we are doing and to innovate in the industry. I believe one of the problems in our sport is the reluctance to change and try new things, but hopefully that will change.

“Harness racing isn’t something we just do, it’s our life. It totally consumes us and we wouldn’t want it any other way.