Rick Gold is a retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur, executive and investor who co-founded four high-tech companies and most recently served as the CEO of CalAmp Corp. He has extensive experience with board governance, having served on the boards of 20 organizations in the public, private and non-profit sectors. A Cornell University graduate, he received an MBA from Northeastern University and a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
Rick has been a racehorse owner since 2004. He and his wife, Marcia, reside in Del Mar, Calif.
We have five questions for him.
Who was the first horse you ever owned?
I bought a piece of a 2-year-old filly named Run the Wham in 2004 with Mike McMahon and a few other Cornell football alums. She had zero wins in 29 lifetime starts (not all for us) and I learned that there are a lot of different kinds of maiden races. A few years later, when Mike started Bourbon Lane Stable, he convinced me it was a good time to get more serious about buying yearlings and 2-year-olds at auction. We bought Bourbon Courage for $15,000 at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton July sale and he went on be a millionaire graded stakes winner. I saw both extremes of the ownership experience within my first few horses.
As an entrepreneur, what attracted you to the tech world?
My dad was a steelworker in Pittsburgh, but a hot, smelly factory had no appeal to me. Engineering seemed like a good way out, and I ended up in Silicon Valley in the '70s. It was a special time and place, with so much happening so fast. I learned early on that I wasn't really suited to big companies so I co-founded several semiconductor start-ups. Along the way I had some turnaround experience – not by design – and kind of accidentally became a fix-it guy for venture capitalists and troubled tech companies. I retired in 2013 but am still involved with a couple of the companies I helped get started.
What do you love most about horse racing?
I love the majesty of animals. As a city kid, I had zero experience with horses, but my dad took me to the track a few times and it just clicked. There is nothing more magical than watching a Thoroughbred gallop. A morning at Santa Anita or Del Mar always lifts my spirits. Horse racing is also a great outlet for my competitive juices now that I'm retired: I love sports, I love gambling games of skill, and I love all the other degenerates I've met along the way.
What is the main reason you co-own with others?
Every venture capitalist learns the value of partners. The obvious reason for this is the balance of risk and reward, but another important reason is the value of the expertise and perspective of others. Nowhere is this more true than horse racing, plus it's a lot more fun to cheer a stakes winner than a stock chart. Marcia and I are involved as partners with Bourbon Lane Stable and Little Red Feather, and are also co-owners of several other horses in California, England and Australia. Dan Blacker trains most of our California horses. We're taking things a step at a time but we're definitely on the slippery slope.
If you were horse racing commissioner for one day, what one change would you make?
I would eliminate all age-restricted races from Graded Stakes consideration. We need our stars to stay involved in the sport, not just pass through long enough to get some black type. It's crazy that we have stallions who win a stakes race in August of their 2yo year and then retire as a G1W. We should be breeding horses whose soundness and brilliance have withstood the test of time.
Then on day two I'd reduce takeout …
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