Nestor Cortes recalls being a high school student growing up near the famed Hialeah Park Race Track in Hialeah, Fla., pressing his forearms against the railings to watch the horses in action. He was fascinated by their beauty, power and speed then, and he remains so to this day.
So when Cortes sensed an opportunity to own a horse, he knew that he had to try it. The left-hander has partnered with Joe Lee, a Yankees assistant equipment manager, to purchase Tam Major A, an 8-year-old horse foaled in Australia.
“You can say it’s yours, and go to the races and enjoy,” Cortes said. “You’re not only just betting on the horse, but actually watching your horse run. You appreciate the stress they go through every time they race.”
While Lee counts handling Yankees player gear and uniforms as one of his day jobs (he’s also a financial advisor), the 42-year-old is a decorated harness driver, frequently sliding into the seat at busy tracks like ones in Yonkers, N.Y., Monticello, N.Y., and East Rutherford, N.J.
“He saw me last year looking at horses on TV and on the apps, wagering some bets,” Cortes said. “He was telling me how he owned horses with [former Yankees manager] Joe Torre. I was like, ‘Man, I would love to own one.’ So this year, the opportunity came up, and we jumped on it.”
Tam Major A has run twice for Cortes and Lee. Saturday marked the first time that Cortes witnessed the horse run in person, and he wore customized spikes for his start against the Rays earlier in the day, depicting the horse’s number (3) and name. The outing did not go exactly as planned -- Cortes fatigued late, permitting a grand slam to Yandy Díaz, though the Yankees rallied for a 9-8 win.