During dinner with Bob Fierro (see post below), the name of Maureen Harmonay popped up. Turns out she was a friend of Bob’s from way back, and she was someone I’d known years ago as well. Today I got an email from Maureen after she’d read the Fierro post, and a line in her note touched me. “I follow your work with great interest, and always have,” she wrote.
After graduating from college in New York, I’d moved to Boston in my early 20’s and was a regular at Suffolk Downs in East Boston and lived with a girlfriend in the North End, the Italian section of town directly adjacent to that tourist destination known as Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The North End, by the way, was the exact opposite of the gentrified Faneuil Hall, which was upscale, yuppy and generally well-heeled. In contrast, the North End, nestled under the highway across the way, was home to butcher shops where the fresh-killed rabbits hung from hooks in windows and the fish came straight off boats as that day’s offering. Both were served in the evenings with pasta and San Marzano tomato sauce at any number of trattorias that dotted the streets of the neighborhood.
One day, walking to the North End through Faneuil Hall—a mixture of shops, formal restaurants, upscale bars, and office space—I came across a placard that read something like “Maureen Harmonay Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc.,” much to my amazement. Naturally, I went upstairs, and there, seated behind a desk in a small office suite was the impeccably groomed Maureen, who was probably 10 years older than I was (maybe less, but 20-somethings are programmed to think that anyone five years older is at least in another generation, so I may be wrong!).
This was the 1980s, and Maureen, very much the professional, was an advisor to a number of clients in Massachusetts at the time, including Chaboquasset Farm, which stood a son of Reviewer whose name escapes me now that Maureen was syndicating.
I felt like the North End to her Faneuil Hall, because I, too, was dabbling in horses on a much smaller and less-sophisticated scale. I stood my first stallion in Massachusetts at the time, a son of Iron Ruler named Rouleit that I’d bought from Rick Nord, and I was racing a few at Suffolk with trainer Russell Derderian and trading some on the side.
Maureen, however, tolerated my intrusions into her space, allowed me access to her catalogues, and sold me pedigrees from the old BRIS suitcase phone modem connected to an old dot matrix printer. Around this type I began writing as well, and she noticed. She finally left the game in the late 1990s for the real estate world, when I was at Daily Racing Form and, ironically, about to leave as well to devote time to my sons and youth baseball.
I’m, of course, back, and I’m happy to hear that Maureen is back, too. She’s now writing about a sport that she’s always been passionate about, and her articles on racing can be viewed here. They are very good, and she’s a welcome addition to the ranks. And after all these years, it was nice to hear from her.