By Julie Sarno
Rochelle Putnam has loved horses ever since she can remember and owned her first horse at age 8. Jim Putnam is an avid sports fan. So owning racehorses is a perfect hobby for them. Watching their horses train and race is something the couple avidly enjoy.
The couple met at LPL Financial in the 1980s, where they both worked at the time. After earning a degree in economics from Harvard, Rochelle worked for her father, who owned an LPL branch in Maine where she grew up. She moved to San Diego in 1986 to work at LPL in the University Towne Center area.
Jim took a job with LPL soon after coming to San Diego from Illinois. Now 55, he is semiretired from the financial services industry after 27 years with LPL. He stepped back from the day-to-day activities in 2005 and serves on its board of directors.
Jim said he and Rochelle became interested in racehorse ownership by listening to Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith on the radio. Kaplan, Smith and Craig Dado, senior vice president of marketing at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, run Great Friends Stable, a horse ownership partnership that focuses on the Del Mar race meet.
"They would replay Mr. Chairman's race on the air — his victory in the $250,000 Cal Cup Classic in 2008 — and it sounded like so much fun," Jim continued. "I called Scott and left a message that I wanted to get in the program. I thought I would get in the program and give it to Rochelle as a birthday present. It wound up being an anniversary present — last August — instead."
The couple have been married for nearly 17 years, and they have lived in Rancho Santa Fe since 1993. Last March, they bought a home in Del Mar, which they share with their beloved golden labrador, Margarita.
The Putnams own part of four horses with Great Friends. The couple also are partners with L-Bo Racing and Monte Pyle and own interests in 14 horses with the latter group. L-Bo Racing is operated by Shawn Turner. The L-Bo Racing and Monte Pyle-owned Global Hunter won the Grade I Eddie Read Handicap last July at Del Mar.
"L-Bo Racing is named for Shawn's children," Jim said. "His daughter is Elle and his son is Bo." The Putnams race under the nom-de-course Summer Fun Stables, an LLC put together for them by Del Mar attorney Bing Bush.
In addition to part ownership in 18 racehorses, Rochelle has three horses. They include a Dutch warmblood for dressage and two paint horses for trail riding — another activity she and her husband enjoy together. Rochelle shows locally at the training level of dressage.
"Horse Park and the Del Mar Fairgrounds are superb facilities," Rochelle said. "There is no reason to travel any farther to show. Paul Cook is my trainer. In fact, he taught my husband to ride about four years ago. Riding is a great activity for Jim and me."
During the wildfires in October 2007, Rochelle evacuated her horses to the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
"I came in with six horses — some owned by friends — and everyone at the fairgrounds was courteous and generous. The volunteers were dedicated and professional. Coming from a situation of chaos, it was so well-organized."
Jim describes their racing stable in financial terms.
"In my portfolio, I've got claimers, 2-year-olds and experienced horses," he said. "I like the diversification. It's nice not to have all your hopes on a single horse."
The Putnams expect to see Great Friends runners active in the first week of the race meet. The Great Friends Stable horses are with trainer Doug O'Neill and include Malusita, a 4-year-old filly; Position A, a 4-year-old gelding; and Call Me Honch, a 5-year-old chestnut gelding. The L-Bo horses, all with trainer A.C. Avila, include several 2-year-olds expected to start during the Del Mar meet. They are Pacific Coast Girl¬, a near-black filly and favorite of Rochelle's; Chaturunga, a filly named for a yoga position; and a bay colt named Become the Wind.
"They call it 'owneritis' when you fall in love with your horses," said Rochelle, who, along with Jim, clearly has the condition.