Michael’s abiding love was White Birch Farm – “his legacy, his home, his dream”. Michael would recount with humor his experiences of delivering foals in the middle of the night, he would speak with pride about the winning horses that were bred and nurtured at the farm, and he enjoyed pointing to the parts of the farm that filled him with a sense of wonder. Michael’s embrace of nature was not limited to the horses, but he dotted the farm with bird houses, built a koi pond, and inhabited the farm with peacocks, guinea hens, wood ducks and other pets.
For those who knew Michael, one of his most endearing aspects was his good and generous heart. Michael was kind and thoughtful and was always ready to help anyone who came to him with a real need. People could sense his capacity to care about others and his desire to help whenever he could. Shy and modest in some respects but outlandish and full of fervor in others, Michael had a character all unto himself. “There wasn’t a bad bone in Michael Parisi’s body. He loved White Birch, his horses, his friends and his employees” as Steve Williams pointed out in a very touching speech at a memorial where many friends, employees and trainers came to show their respect, friendship and love of a man that will truly be missed.
For those who knew Michael well, Michael and White Birch Farm were an extension of one another. The farm was his home since high school. He built upon the initial infrastructure of the farm and improved upon the broodmare band, to enable the successes of the White Birch Farm “Hall of Fame” which continues on. White Birch Farm was honored as the 2012 and 2013 Breeder of the Year by the United States Harness Writers Association, owned both of the 2013 Broodmares of the Year – Beehive and Worldly Treasure -- and achieved the honor of New Jersey Breeder of the Year three times – in 2004, 2011 and 2013 – an amazing recognition of Michael’s dedication to making White Birch Farm the best it could be. The famed Captaintreacherous was named Pacer of the Year as a two year old in 2012 and again as a three year old in 2013 (the first time since Niatross that this has ever happened). Captaintreacherous stood his first year as a stud at Hanover Shoe Farm in 2015. Also in 2013, Bee A Magician took several major titles including 2013 Horse of the Year in both the US and Canada and 2013 Trotter of the Year in the US - arguably one of the best trotters ever. These are only a few examples of major accomplishments that Michael is credited for in recent years.
It is hard to imagine White Birch Farm without Michael. But for him, White Birch Farm was not only a labor of love but also his enduring legacy. That legacy continues to flourish and as White Birch Farm approaches its even more successful years ahead, it is comforting to think how proud Michael would be of the farm’s accomplishments and its continuing prospects for future success.