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James Gandolfini Tribute: Tony Soprano Talks Racing

Tony Soprano
Photo: HBO
Taken from the world far too early, there weren’t many actors better at their trade than James Gandolfini. There also weren’t many actors more recognizable with one singular character than Gandolfini was with his alter ego, Tony Soprano. While the 51-year-old actor displayed a range of talent in such works as The Mexican and Welcome to the Rileys, his fabulous portrayal of the ruthless, yet at the same time, sympathetic and even lovable mob boss, is a persona that will live on long after most of us join Gandolfini in the great beyond.

In the spirit of love for the man’s work, in the spirit of connecting with the irrepressible character one final time, and in the spirit of not taking this blog space too seriously ... I offer what I imagine a sit-down interview with Tony Soprano, would be like, as we talk horse racing. As you can imagine, interviewing Tony would be both exhilarating and frightening, so if I sound a bit scared sh**less, please appreciate my situation...

Zipse: You are rather new to owning thoroughbreds, can you tell us what you do for a living, and what brought you to racing?

Soprano: Waste management consultant, and cunnilingus and psychiatry brought me to this.

Zipse: Come again?

Soprano: My female shrink told me I needed a hobby.

Zipse: So racing is an outlet from the stresses of your day job, kinda like Chicken Soup for the Soul?

Soprano: I don’t know about that, but you should read 'Tomato Sauce for your Ass'. It’s the Italian version.

Zipse: [laughs] As a horse owner, I’ve been told you prefer to manage your own horses, rather than leaving that up to the trainer. Is this style of ownership working for you?

Soprano: All due respect, you got no f***ing idea what it’s like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other fu**ing thing. It's too much to deal with almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it all.

Zipse: Having said that, do you think that maybe you would be better off leaving the day-to-day decisions more to the trainer?

Soprano: Is this a woman thing? You ask me how I’m feeling. I tell you how I’m feeling, and now you’re going to torture me with it.

Zipse: Sorry, just trying to help, Tony … 

Soprano: No f***ing idea.

{At this point, I slowly take a sip from my water, while the wrinkles on Tony’s head become more pronounced and his gaze cuts through me with the heat of a million suns. I soldier on.}

Zipse: So, let me ask you … I know you’ve already called on many different riders on your horses, how do you feel about getting a ride that is less than to your satisfaction?

Soprano: There's an old Italian saying: you f**k up once, you lose two teeth.

Zipse: Has this made it difficult to find riders?

Soprano: [Tony just stares for a moment] Those who want respect, give respect.
Zipse: What is your ultimate goal as an owner?

Soprano: To go to Kentucky, and wear a big fu**ing hat.

Zipse: Is it your goal to just get to the Kentucky Derby, or to only come with a horse who actually has a big chance to win?

Soprano: What use is an unloaded gun?

Zipse: So are you expecting to find success as a horse owner sooner than later?

Soprano: No. I'm like King Midas in reverse. Everything I touch turns to s**t.

Zipse: Last question, Tony … Now that you’re in racing have you had a chance to do some reading on our website, HRN?

Soprano: F**k the internet. That ‘cookie’ s**t makes me nervous. 


{Thank you to David Chase, The Sopranos, HBO, and of course the late, great, James Gandolfini for their obvious assistance with this interview.}


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Older Comments about James Gandolfini Tribute: Tony Soprano Talks Racing...

Agreed Northport. The Sopranos ushered in some top cable shows. I would add Dexter and Boardwalk Empire to your etc. list. The Sopranos showed that lots of viewers would tune in for well written and compelling cable shows. Frankly prime time has degenerated to a bunch of juvenile shows with over used laugh tracks.
  • illhaveanothertriplecrown · This was incredibly enjoyable to read. You definately captured Tony's spirit. Nice job. If you haven't seen it, get season one some rainy weekend and you'll be going for 2-6 faster than (instert horses name here) at (insert race here) · 887 days ago
Absolutely right Railbird.
Hey, let's not forget Tony Soprano did own a piece of a winning thoroughbred- Pieomay! AND, when Ralphie burned down the stall killing the horse to collect insurance money for his son's medical bills, Tony - in typical wiseguy reaction,,, whacked Ralphie. Other good track racetrack scenes in the series.
if you like well written, compelling, and stunningly acted television, you owe it to yourself to watch the Sopranos. Without that show we wouldn't have Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, etc.
Would rather watch a re-run of Columbo.
Never sawa single episode of the Sapranos.
I didn't know he'd passed away. The part about Australian cuisine was funny, I guess.
LOL on the that 'cookie' s**t! NJ has lost one of its finest sons in ames Gandolfini.
::smile:: While we mourn the loss of James Gandolfini (with you, Z.) 'thankgod' we'll always have Tony Soprano. Thanks for the fun fantasy!

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