Played the Odds
Joseph A. LaFalce, 54, lived a life of simple routines. He prided himself on being on time for work. He could talk endlessly about college basketball. He enjoyed a drink at pubs like the Killarney Rose, not far from the World Trade Center, where he helped the brokers at Cantor Fitzgerald settle their accounts at the end of the day. "He was one of those guys, and there are thousands of them in New York, that make the city work," said Ted Outwater, who struck up a friendship with him years ago when Mr. LaFalce admired his aging dog.
A native Manhattanite, Mr. LaFalce came to love thoroughbred racing: both the personalities involved and the art of figuring out a horse's chances in a particular race. "He could tell you when the horse was born, when he died, how fast he ran," said his brother, Dominick. "He could tell you who won the Preakness 20 years ago."
Once, Mr. LaFalce came close to snaring his dream job, with The Daily Racing Form. "But there was a hiring freeze," said Noel McPartland, the bartender upstairs at the Killarney Rose, where Mr. LaFalce used to order a rye and ginger ale and respond to jokes and stories with: "Give me a break! I'm tired!"
Now his friends are trying to organize a horse race at Belmont or Aqueduct in his memory. "We'd probably call it the Joe LaFalce Handicap or the Middle Move Handicap," Mr. McPartland said. "That was his big thing — if the horse made a good move in the middle of the race."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on January 22, 2002.