In early 2003, Rick decided that he would buy a thoroughbred foal which he hoped could be raised to race in New York. On a cold winter morning, Rick and a skeptical Dave drove to the farm of Gus Schoenborn Jr.in Coxsackie, N.Y. to check out foals by a new sire, City Zip.
City Zip had been trained by the brilliant young Trainer Linda Rice. City Zip had swept the two-year Stakes races at Saratoga in 2000. The final leg of that sweep was the Hopeful Stakes which was run as a severe thunder storm raged over the Spa oval. Rick and Dave were in attendance that day. City Zip seemed hopelessly beaten at the top of the stretch. But, he rallied to gain a dead heat win over a distinguished field. City Zip went on to have a strong three-year old campaign, which included a Stakes win at Saratoga. He retired to stud at the Schoenborn farm after his 2001 season.
Rick decided that City Zip was the sire that he wanted as the foundation for his racing enterprise. Conveniently, Dave and Gus Schoenborn had a relationship which extended back to the 1980s when Gus was Mayor of Coxsackie and Dave served as counsel to the Village on an environmental matter.
On that winter morning, Gus showed Rick and Dave several City Zip foals. All of them were less than three weeks old. Most looked terrific. Rick settled on a strong-looking chestnut City Zip colt out of a mare named Just Regular. He and Gus settled on a price. Dave was in for a nominal cut.
That first foal developed beautifully. By June, he was growing rapidly and looked to be at the head of the foal class at the Schoenborn farm. Rick was enthusiastic and Dave had gone from a nominal cut to a more substantial interest. Then the foal became ill. Within a few days he spiked a fever. He did not recover.
The foal died. But Rick was determined that he would get a 2003 foal and make it to the races.
On Friday, July 26 2003, Rick and Dave went back to the Schoenborn farm to see what was available. Gus offered a City Zip colt out of a mare named "Here Comes Nikki." He was a bay and he seemed to have a bit of an attitude. Rick and Dave bought the foal for $15,000. They then drove to Saratoga to meet Chuck for a day at the races.
That afternoon, a three-year old half brother to City Zip ran in a 7 furlong allowance race at Saratoga. His name was "Ghostzapper." He won against a good field in a very good time. Rick observed that this was good news because it appeared that Ghostzapper had some talent and it helped confirm the strength of City Zip’s pedigree. Further, both Rick and Dave noticed that the sire side of Ghostzapper’s pedigree was quite similar to the mare’s side of their newly purchased colt. Before the end of 2003, Ghostzapper was a graded stakes winner. By the end of 2004, he was Horse of the Year in North America and acclaimed as the “fastest performer” since the advent of speed figures.
Within a few weeks after purchasing the Here Comes Nikki foal, Rick received a telephone call from Linda Rice. She inquired whether Rick would sell the foal. Linda had seen the foal at the Schoenborn farm and expressed an interest in purchasing it. Having trained City Zip, she was particularly interested in acquiring his off-spring. Rick’s answer to Linda was “No”.
Linda then asked if Rick had a trainer. Rick answered “No”.
Linda asked if she could train the colt; this time, Rick answered “Yes”.
Linda asked where Rick intended to raise the colt. He had no specific plans. Linda proposed that the colt be sent to her parent’s farm near Ocala, Florida. Rick agreed.
The foal was weaned in September. Shortly after, he was shipped to the Rice’s Indian Prairie Ranch near Ocala. He would be the first of many. The foal was now in the charge of Linda’s father, Clyde Rice.
By the spring of 2004, Rick had named the yearling. He was now Metro Meteor.
Throughout 2004, Metro grew and began training at Indian Prairie. Back in New York, Rick and a non-skeptical Dave purchased a suckling filly. She was Metro’s full sister. After she was weaned, she was also shipped to Indian Prairie. Later on she was named “Cizi”.
By late 2004, Rick and Dave began to discuss whether they would race under their names or under an assumed Stable name. As they played the races at the Albany OTB Teletheater, they envisioned a day in which one of their horses would be running and not doing well and the hardcore at the OTB would likely observe that Benas and Engel “have a pig”. Restraint of expression has never been a hallmark of horseplayers.
Rick suggested that they race under an assumed stable name, “something obtuse”. Dave agreed and proposed that the operation be just that “Obtuse Stables”. Based on that understanding, Rick and Jeanne proceeded to design silks. They would be white with large orange circles on the front and back. Why orange? Rick and Jeanne are both distinguished graduates of Syracuse University.
It was only after getting the silks approved and purchased that Rick learned that the name “Obtuse Stables” was not available. So the search began for a new name which featured the letter “O”. In time, Rick came up with “Obviously NY”. It used the “O” and paid homage to the New York breeding of Metro and Cizi.