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  News > Dominick Caruso and Mark Sadowski
     
  One of Long Island's Best

 


The loft 

 


A Young Bird Futurity winner from the Claessens blood line 
 


It is 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 20th, 2001. The day is bright with high wispy clouds and cool… cool, that is, for a Louisianian traveling across Long Island in mid-May when the typical temperature back home at this time of year is hovering near ninety. I am on my way to visit a loft that has amassed one of the most impressive racing records on Long Island over the past several years and, as always, I am determined to root out the secrets of their success.

The tandem I have an appointment with flies under the name "Caruso and Sadowski," as in Dominick Caruso and Mark Sadowski, and over the past several years this tandem has beaten a steady path to the winner's circle, etching their names among the upper echelon of the elite lofts on Long Island. As I enjoy the crisp beauty of a brilliant spring morning on Long Island's tree-lined North State Parkway, I can't help but think of the comments I've heard from this loft's fellow competitors. Phrases like, "the best on Long Island," "one of the top lofts in New York," and "a real tough loft to beat" stick in my mind. It is common knowledge in the pigeon racing game that to find out what loft is the best in any given area, all one need do is ask the local competitors. Usually, sometimes begrudgingly, they'll spit out the names of five or six lofts that are really tough, but when the same name comes up from everyone you ask, it is a safe bet that you've found a champion. Since I was on Long Island to do a demonstration on the Benzing electronic clocks, I decided to take a morning and interview one of the Island's top lofts. Asking around, almost everyone mentioned "Caruso and Sadowski."

 






Champion Big Red 















One of the champion breeders of HVR background 



Dominick Caruso

"Dom" Caruso and his wife Lynne live in a very neat home on a rather spacious lot at the corner of Burke Avenue and 19th Street in Jericho, New York, very near the middle of Long Island. As I approach the house and park at the curb, I can see Dom in his back yard waving for me to join him. Entering his yard, I find that Dom is standing near his loft, which I estimate to be approximately 10' x 24' and neatly situated to one side of his property. I also am quick to notice that there is a covered patio attached behind Dom's home, a place that is obviously the center of activity on race days. It lies about 100 feet from the loft and gives Dom and Mark an excellent place from which to observe their returning racers. Dom has his "brain trust" set up on a large picnic table underneath the patio, with phone, data books, previous race records, etc., all at his finger tips, like on any typical race day. It is obvious that this is where Dom spends his time waiting for birds.

After we greet and make small talk, we spend a little time watching his racers enjoy an open-loft exercise. I notice that the loft is divided into three main sections. On the extreme left is a section containing half-molted young birds, in the middle is a larger racing section with nests, and to the right is another section which appears to house later rounds of young birds. Dom explains that he and Mark are handling birds for this year's IF convention race; therefore, they have an unusually large number of pigeons in-house. He leads me to the covered patio. The picnic table is the centerpiece and several lawn chairs are spread around to make for a very comfortable sitting area. Somehow I get the feeling that many satisfying "pigeon" hours have been spent here talking, planning, scheming… waiting. Dom explains that his old bird racers had just returned an hour or so earlier, but they had only traveled about 30 miles because the race truck had broken down the night before with all of the birds aboard and couldn't make it off the Island, so the 250-mile race had been canceled. All of the birds had to be released one basket at a time. Dom was disappointed, but upbeat. This was supposed to be the last short race of the season before the final three weekends of 300-, 400- and 500-mile races. He had just allowed his cocks and hens back together on Wednesday after they had been separated since the beginning of the season, and almost all of his cocks were driving, a position he and Mark especially like for races under 300 miles.

 






Dominick Caruso and Mark Sadowski 
















A pair of Old Bird racers frolic on the landing board 






Healthy and Happy

As we sit I can't help but notice how much flying the old bird racers are doing… all on their own, without prompting. The sexes are together, the loft is open, and the birds are showing that they are brimming with health as they course around the loft, chasing one another, landing, then taking off again in small groups… flying just for the fun of it. The cocks are clapping their wings and soaring, trying to keep up with the hens as they dip and dive like young birds. Small flocks disappear on the horizon then buzz overhead only to disappear again in a different direction. My immediate impression is that this is a healthy, happy bunch of birds… and that one of the "secrets" I was coming to investigate was already quite visible right in front of me.

Dom sits and ponders what could have been. He and I look at one another in agreement. This would surely have been another weekend of tremendous results for a loft that already had accumulated some of Long Island's most stunning of the season. Dom hands me a set of club and combine race results from the previous week. "Caruso and Sadowski" occupy something like seven of the first ten positions on both sheets, and Dom proceeds to tell me that it has been like this almost every weekend. He smiles almost apologetically as if he can't explain the good fortune, but I know that behind that smile must be a supremely shrewd and competitive individual.

The "Raccoon Cock"

Just as Dom and I sit to begin the interview, his partner Mark arrives. Mark appears to be in his late thirties, about ten or so years younger than Dom. The two men are very cordial, quite engaging and easy to talk to, and I am glad that both partners have made themselves available for my interview. Dom proceeds to tell me that he first started with fancy pigeons as a young boy and had them until 1976 when a neighbor got him involved with racers. Once the grip of racing took hold, Dom and a partner (Tom Giante) started looking for good birds. Their first birds came from Jimmy Acquaviva and they were of a strain called "Swollens" (a local strain that was popular at the time). Dom was also hearing a lot about the birds of one of Long Island's legends, Joe Politi, and so paid Joe a visit, ending up with some of Joe's Huysken Van Riels. Dom and his partner started racing in the Mid-Island and Hicksville Clubs in the late seventies and early eighties with some decent results, but not to the level of their aspirations. Winning was difficult and so, like most who aren't winning as much as they would like, Dom continued to try different strains with a modicum of success. Eventually Dom started racing on his own with the Politi Van Riels. These were good pigeons and gave satisfactory results, but in the late eighties a red Emiel Deweerd cock of Van der Espt bloodlines from the loft of Pat Murphy lit a real fire in the loft. The cock, banded IF 88 ELI 3129, was acquired for stock and, when paired to the Politi Van Riel hens, bred a veritable goldmine of top racers and even better breeders. All of a sudden Dom Caruso was a feared man on race day, especially at 300 miles and up. Unfortunately "3129" met his Waterloo when only four years of age at the hands of a raccoon. In remembrance, Dom named his great red breeder "The Raccoon Cock".




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Inside the Loft




























Young birds wait their turn 



Mark Sadowski

From the time he was a young boy, Mark Sadowski had owned homing pigeons, but he had never raced them. Yet his interest was so keen that one day in 1988, upon seeing a flock of pigeons circling his neighborhood, Mark traced the birds to the home of Dominick Caruso and paid him a visit. They quickly struck up a friendship and Mark began visiting Dom on a regular basis. Speaking with Dom about the racing game and observing Dom's magnificent racers caused the racing bug to bite Mark so hard that it wasn't long before Mark was himself a member of the Mid-Island Racing Pigeon Club. Questioning Dom about where he could obtain good birds brought the name "Joe Politi" up as a good possibility. Mark visited legendary Joe and came away with pigeons that were soon to make a huge impact.

Joe Politi had heard of Dom Caruso's success in crossing the Van der Espt blood onto his HVR birds, and so he had gone to Pat Murphy and gotten some of the Emiel Deweerd Van der Espt pigeons for himself. When Mark Sadowski showed up at Joe Politi's door to acquire some good birds, one of the pigeons that Mark ended up purchasing was a red cock that happened to be of similar lineage to Dom Caruso's famous "Raccoon Cock." That red cock was paired to an Omar Favaro Huysken Van Riel hen and together they produced a 1991 red cock banded "0693" which ignited a spark in the Sadowski loft that later became a full-fledged fire. "Big Red" (as Mark named him) raced eleven times as a young bird and scored a top diploma in all eleven races, winning, in his final race, 3rd overall in the big Lindenhurst Futurity, open to all of Long Island. Mark was ecstatic, and Dom knew then that this young man and his pigeons were destined to be real competitors. "Big Red" was immediately put to stock and paired to a hen banded "475" from Dom Caruso's Huysken Van Riel blood. "475" had also raced for Mark, winning 2nd, 2nd, 2nd and 1st in four consecutive 300 mile races. The pairing of the "Big Red" cock and "475" hen made history. They bred such phenomenal racers and breeders that they quickly became the foundation of Mark's entire colony. Other pigeons were blended in from such well-known lofts as George Riker and Tony Briganti, and soon Mark Sadowski was well on his way to success.

Partnership

In 1992 Dom and Mark decided to try racing as partners, but extenuating circumstances didn't allow them to stay together for more than one or two seasons. Still close friends, they continued to train together and trade birds, but each flew under his own loft name until Mark was able to move back to his old address in 1998. At that point, they resumed their partnership and they haven't looked back since. A decision was made to do the racing from Dom's location on Burke Street and the breeding at Mark's location just a quarter mile away. It was already well established that the progeny of Mark's "Big Red" and "475" coupled with the descendants of Dom's "Raccoon Cock" and the Politi HVR's were pigeons that had to be reckoned with on race day. Pigeons like Dom's "Double Combine Winner" a cock that topped the entire Long Island Combine from 300 and 500 miles, and "0801" a three time winner, twice in the Combine, were put into the stock loft. These birds were descendants of the "Raccoon Cock" and the Politi Van Riel pigeons.

Great Results

Dom and Mark explain that their birds are especially good at 300 miles, which is the distance of most of Long Island's futurity races. In 1999 a daughter of "0801" won the East Meadow Futurity and another daughter won the SNF Futurity in 2000. In fact, looking at just their futurity results over the past couple of years is enough to make one realize that these are very serious racing fanciers. In 2000 alone they won 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the East Meadow Futurity, 1st and 2nd in the SNF Futurity, 3rd and 6th in the Lindenhurst Band Race and had eight in the money in the Suffolk Nassau Band Race. In the Islip Terrace Futurity they shipped five, getting three on the drop to take 4th, 5th, and 6th. Now I know why everyone on Long Island mentioned this loft by name.

Recent Additions

One of the things that I have noticed about great racing lofts is that they are never satisfied with their results. They always seem to be looking to improve, and that is no exception here. When Mark and Dom critiqued their loft, they decided that the one thing they could use more of was speed, so after careful consideration they contacted a local friend who is known to have super pigeons. His name is Scott Dale and he flies under the name "D&M Loft." Scott has spared no expense in getting the best bloodlines money can buy, including super lineage Janssens, Hofkens and Ludo Claessens pigeons. The partnership decided to try some of each of these families from Mark against their own to see if they could improve their standings even more. According to Dom, the early results are promising, especially from the Ludo Claessens pigeons. In fact, Claessens pigeons were on the drop in several of last year's futurity races. This year the partnership is crossing some of the Claessens, Hofkens and Janssens onto some of their older blood to see what kind of results they might achieve. Personally, I think they've hit a jackpot.

—Ed Minvielle

This is the first of two parts. Click here to go to Part II.



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