Believing In ‘Magic’: Horse Racing’s Upstart Edwards Family And Its Meteoric Rise In The Sport Of Kings

A few summers ago, just when e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ horses first started appearing at Saratoga Race Course, few people in the horse racing industry knew anything about the stable and its fluorescent green-and-purple silks—including me. I remember grabbing trainer Rudy Rodriguez and asking, “Who is…what is e Five?” Rodriguez, an affable, chatty guy, conceded that he didn’t know much about his new client’s background either. It didn’t take long, though, for the e Five gang—that is, Bob and Kris Edwards and their children Cassidy, Riley and Delaney—to exit the land of the unknowns.

Not quite three years later, the Edwards’ stable has made a big splash in the Sport of Kings, sending their first three Breeders’ Cup starters to the Winner’s Circle—a record-breaking feat. And their Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Good Magic—purchased for $1 million and co-owned by Stonestreet Stables—was crowned the two-year-old male champion in 2017. Good Magic’s now under the watchful eye of superstar trainer (and Mechanicville native) Chad Brown, and should be a top contender at the Kentucky Derby.

The Edwards’ good fortune began quite innocently, when Kris, a native Saratogian, traveled here, family in tow, for a cousin’s wedding in August 2015. She remembers giving Bob specific instructions when he took their daughter, Cassidy, to visit his business partner’s stables at Saratoga Race Course: “Don’t you dare buy a horse.” Of course, Bob didn’t listen to her, and that weekend, with the help of veteran bloodstock agent Mike Ryan, he purchased his first yearling filly for $255,000. “I know exactly how Bob’s mind works,” says Kris. “I knew that once he bought one horse, he was going to do it…” she says, trailing off, not adding “again” to complete the sentence. She then remembers driving around town with her father, looking for a property along Fifth Avenue—a stretch of Saratoga real estate that abuts the Oklahoma training track and is just a stone’s throw away from Saratoga Race Course. She already knew that Bob wasn’t going to be content playing around on the fringes of horse racing, so he’d need a Saratoga home, too. “When he’s in, he’s all in,” she says.

Since the Edwards know and understand what starting from the bottom and hitting the pinch-yourself strata looks and feels like—Bob cofounded Boca Pharmacal in his mid 20s and sold it for $225 million in 2014—they appreciate their breathtaking ascent to prominence in racing. To be sure, they’re fully aware that some of what they’ve done is unprecedented. Yes, the Boca Raton, FL, residents, who grew up in Upstate New York and met as undergrads at SUNY Plattsburgh on their shared birthday nearly 30 years ago, are loving the ride. From the quick and mighty deep dive into racing, e Five has grown, as Kris predicted, into an international stable of 70 horses. Just like that. To put that into perspective, I’ve been in racing partnerships with no more than a couple of horses at a time. But 70, all acquired by one family new to the game, in less than two-and-a-half years? That’s nothing short of mind-blowing.

Good Magic
One of e Five’s prized Thoroughbreds, Good Magic, will be vying for this year’s Kentucky Derby crown. (Mike Kane)

A stable of horses and a summer home on Fifth Avenue were not high on Kris Hoenig’s list of priorities when she graduated from Saratoga Springs High School in 1985. The Hoenig family—her parents Larry and Kathy still live in town—did spend some afternoons at the track, but purely for fun get-togethers. Kris’ connection to the track came during the summer before college, working for the Pinkerton security company. Kris ended up going to Plattsburgh to study business, and says that when she met the fun-loving Bob, who’d grown up in Highland Mills, NY (about two hours south of Saratoga), it was love at first sight: “I say that when I first saw him, I was like, ‘That’s it,’” she says. “He was a tall, scrawny young man, but very cute. He was into The Grateful Dead and followed them around everywhere. From my perspective, coming from Saratoga, I saw him as being a little bit of a bad boy, a little bit different. I didn’t know any Deadheads in Saratoga.”

Once they started dating, it became clear to Kris that Bob wasn’t all that interested in college. “He didn’t go to class all the time. He went up and down,” says Kris. But she tells me that Bob was on a different plane of thought than the average Plattsburgh student: “It seemed like he knew more than the professors did.” Kris would wind up graduating a year before Bob, heading back to the Capital Region and getting a job. “She was definitely more focused than I was,” says Bob. “Her work ethic was a lot stronger than mine at that age.” Kris also ended up giving Bob an ultimatum: “She told me, ‘Look, you’re on the clock,’” says Bob. He’d end up leaving school without completing his degree—he’d finish it later in Florida—and going on to fulfill his obligation to the Army Reserves, which had been helping him with his college expenses. He left for a few months of training and when he returned, a dramatic change had come over him, says Kris: “He was motivated; they took someone who was somewhat of a wiseass punk and turned him into a man.” Bob concurs. “Granted, coming out of Plattsburgh, I probably wasn’t the most mature of individuals, but I went straight into the Army, and they rebooted me,” he says. Then things sped up exponentially: The couple got engaged, married and a year-and-a-half afterward, had their first child, Cassidy. Having a child “made him even more focused,” says Kris. “He went full speed ahead.”

While the allure of college might’ve eluded Bob early on, he made up for it in kind in the world of entrepreneurship. Bob started in the pharmaceutical business as a phone rep in Newburgh, NY. He rose quickly in the company and was promoted to a management position in Florida. A couple of years later, confident that he understood the industry, he launched his first small pharma company. He’d eventually strike gold with Boca Pharmacal, which sold for hundreds of millions of dollars and made luxuries like owning 70 horses a reality. “That’s the key,” says Bob. “I’m a good coach, a good general manager,” joking that he wouldn’t compare himself to New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick because he’s a Miami Dolphins fan. “You have to get the right pieces in play for the team. My wife and I are a team. I attribute a lot of my success to her putting a boot in my ass and redirecting me.” It didn’t hurt that she supported him every step of the way, too, when he struck out on his own. “She believed in me, and it ended up working out,” he says. “Whenever I had some self-doubt on some level, she’d tell me to get my act together—you’re doing the right things, just keep moving forward. We make a great team.”

Good Magic
e Five’s Good Magic won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, setting up a run at the Kentucky Derby. (Mike Kane)

Kris sees a direct parallel between her husband’s success in the pharma world and e Five’s in horse racing. “I believe a little bit of magic is involved, for sure, but it’s a lot of hard work and being surrounded by a lot of great people that is the recipe for success,” she says. “I know that e Five has achieved it very early on in the racing industry, but I don’t know if there are as many people who’ve put in the time that Bob has, even if they’ve been in the industry for years and years and years.” Kris describes him as the consummate student of the sport. “Bob puts in his own homework,” she says. “He’s actually bringing ideas to the best people in the business, because he’s doing his research. He’s spending days and nights—family time—researching and trying to learn the entire industry in just a couple of years. He’s done remarkably well, obviously.” And if there were a clear winner between pharma and horse racing for Bob, it’d be the latter, says Kris. “He tells me, ‘Pharma is where I make my money, but it’s not a passion of mine. It’s not what I really want to do.’”

By the time Bob dove into horse racing, he’d come out of a short retirement following the sale of Boca Pharmacal to start a new company, e5 Pharma, which makes generic drugs for humans and animals. Racing has been a good find, Kris tells me. And it’s brought the tight-knit Edwards clan even closer together. “It’s taken our family on a whirlwind trip, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon,” she says. “I don’t see Bob ever getting out of the business, actually.”

And now, after I’ve gotten to know who this impressive family is—and better yet, what they’re capable of accomplishing in horse racing and bringing to Saratoga’s signature sport—I’m genuinely glad to hear that.

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