Mike J Rosato was a man of legend to those who knew him best. Born in Ensley in 1941, Mike J was known for his genuine spirit and kind demeanor. The sixth child of an Italian immigrant and a second-generation Birmingham-born Italian, Mike J and family came to know Birmingham as their home and place of business where they would go on to build a strong sense of community.
Part of the number of families that came over to the city in the early 1900s, Mike J’s parents sought a life for themselves in the growing Southern city as grocers. Similar families across the city found work and opportunities and many would later become well-known local figures. The Rosato’s were one of the families that found success with the opening of their family store in Birmingham.
Mike J spent his adolescence and early adulthood in Birmingham and went on to marry Bettie Benton in 1962. He would later go on to have two daughters, Michelle and Missy, both born in Birmingham.
Mike J started his career with American Can around 1965 and progressed through the sales and marketing divisions. Later, James River Corporation acquired American Can and Mike J continued to climb the corporate ladder moving throughout the country before finally making his way back to Birmingham.
He lived a full life throughout which he prioritized spending time with friends and family and honoring his Alabama roots. He is said to have made friends wherever he went with his infectious personality and humble demeanor. To son-in-law Daniel Hughes, he was less of a father-in-law and more of an older, wiser brother.
Years after Mike’s passing in the late 90s, Mike’s daughter Michelle and husband Daniel Hughes found themselves in the racing horse industry. In 2016, they founded Robin Lane Thoroughbreds alongside their longtime work colleague, Monia Bos, and late husband Donald (DJ) Bos. Their colleague Monia and her husband DJ had an amazing eye for what mattered in a high-performing racehorse making the pair a perfect partner.
Robin Lane Thoroughbreds has found success and now owns 16 mares, some of which are based in Lexington at Crestwood Farm, one of the leading Thoroughbred farms where over 300 stakes horses were either foaled or raised. The farm is owned by the McLean family, a highly respected horse family now in the second generation.
When one of RLT’s horses showed promise, they knew exactly who to name the future success after: the one and only Mike J Rosato. Mike J was sired by Sky Mesa, a stallion who stands at Three Chimneys farm near Lexington. His maternal grandsire, the great Storm Boot, stood at Crestwood Farm.
“As far as horses go, Mike J is the sort that you know you are lucky to work with because he is one of the special ones you don’t encounter often with a great temperament and gentle nature. On the racetrack, he is a fierce competitor who relies on his heart and determination to elevate his physical gifts to the level required for success .”
Multiple stakes winning trainer Lee Thomas
Mike J went on to win his first race as a two-year-old in October 2021. It was clear to all on the RLT team that Mike J was destined for a successful career in the coming years. Since his first win, he has raced 20 times. Over the course of 20 races, Mike J has won 7 races and placed either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in 14 races. He has placed in a stakes race 4 times, making him a multiple stakes placed horse.
Mike J also has two younger siblings out of Dickson Street. Dr. Speck, named for Daniel’s dad, will run his maiden race late this year. There is also a baby, a filly, born earlier this year who will be the last of the Dickson Street line as the RLT team has decided it is time to pension the 20-year-old mare.
Mike J turns 5 today, January 1st, and his next race is likely a stakes race at the Fairgrounds, the historic track in New Orleans, on January 6th.