The wry smile comes with serious intent.
"We want to win a Group 1, that's the dream," Tory Lavalle offers.
The Illawarra businessman is steadily building a racing empire at Kembla Grange, all in honour of his brother Mick, who passed away suddenly at the age of 50 after suffering a heart attack at a Moruya meeting in 2014.
Outside the stables, Mick's legacy lives on, as Tory's father Tony joins brother-in-law Tony Bertuccio and the family at a plaque beside a statue of the yellow silks, red sleeves and blue cap they hope to see in Australia's biggest races.
These days, the colours also feature a blue ML on the chest, so every runner carries Mick's initials with them.
"Mick loved racing," Tory said. "He owned horses, he loved a punt, he loved a day out at the races.
"The family never really got into it much, aside from Tony (Bertuccio), but once we talked about honouring Mick by doing this, it all changed. It's our way of having him with us all the time."
Mick, Tony and Tory owned Setta Rocks together, a Queanbeyan Cup-winning Fastnet Rock mare, who also placed at Randwick and Canterbury.
In tribute to Mick back in 2014, trainer Carl Poidevin reckoned the bookies used to "shake in their boots" when he stepped into the betting ring to take them on at South Coast tracks.
But Tory, who was part of a bid for the Illawarra Hawks ownership earlier this year with potential NBA star LaMelo Ball, is taking the Lavalle family interest to another level.
Only last week, he invested $130,000 in a now three-year-old Hinchinbrook horse they gelded called Sharpshooter, after buying it from Peter and Paul Snowden and the mighty China Horse Club owners.
Lavalle is also looking to buy a property for spelling and breeding purposes to complement the Kembla Grange operation.
With trainer Brett Lazzarini using his wealth of knowledge, the Lavalle-Bettucio team want to establish a base of 20 city and provincial class horses, with at least 10 in work at a time, in a bid to unearth a superstar.
Finding winners in the racing industry is difficult at any level, but then you only have to consider Lavalle's record as owner of the Wollongong Wolves to realise Lavalle knows how to be successful.
The Wolves captured the NSW National Premier League title last year, as well as the end-of-season national knockout crown involving all the state league winners.
Like racing, Lavalle admits he's far from a football expert, but the business model proves effective.
After a period of rebuilding under former A-League defender Jacob Timpano, golden generation Socceroos talent Luke Wilkshire lifted the trophy as coach, an achievement which also stands as a building block towards inclusion in the A-League.
"It's important to have the best people around me," Lavalle said.
"Whether that's in business or the Wolves or racing.
"I don't pretend to know how to coach a team, or train a racehorse, my job is to involve the right people to work with.
"You've got to be persistent and believe in what you're doing, there's no point expecting it's all going to come together overnight."
Lazzarini, who runs a commercial and industrial construction business, started as a trainer based at Ballina in the 1980s and won several country cups, before the opportunity came to work with his son Wyatt and take over the operations of Mick Tubman, who had the fairytale Silver Slipper filly Chance Bye.
Along the way, the stable has gained valuable insight and expertise about their thoroughbred future from the likes of jockeys James McDonald and Winona Costin.
Costin regularly rides trackwork and races for the stable, clocking up the kilometres from Sydney to Wollongong as part of the commitment.
Nindamos, a five-year-old gelding, may have had only one run since changing hands to Lazzarini, but it's another indication of the Lavalle ownership intentions, given he won the Kembla Grange horse of the year pointscore.
They bought four-year-old mares Frazil and Delicately from James Cummings' Godolphin stable.
But Lavalle holds a special place for a now three-year-old gelding called LaMelo - named after former Hawks player Ball - who loomed as the winner in his fifth start in a 1000m Maiden at Kembla Grange on Thursday, before being edged out for third.
Lavalle struck an unlikely friendship with American teenager Ball when he was the major sponsor of the Hawks, which led to them forming a bid for the club, which was passed up by the NBL.
"That's my favourite horse, for sure," Lavalle said.
"I told him I've got this horse named after you, because he's young and enthusiastic, so he took a share in it. He'd come out all the time to see him, he still talks about it, but the only thing he knew about racing was the Kentucky Derby."
But for all the financial outlay, Lavalle already has a reward in the family legacy.
"We inherited Mick's horses," he said.
"So that is and always will be the reason behind doing this, the memory of my brother. My dad was always against gambling, he's not the type to put a suit on, but we all would get dressed up for a day out, or together as a family when we can.
"We're in it to win it, we're not doing this half-hearted.
"We'll get there."