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Joan Robertson

Tait Reflects On Year At Twin Hills

After nine years spent abroad, for the most part as a manager of Sheikh Mohammed’s global operations, Olly Tait returned to Australia on a permanent basis exactly a year ago last weekend. It was just over 12 months ago that Tait and his wife, Amber, jumped at the chance to purchase Twin Hills Stud in Cootamundra, a farm that Tait had a hand in running during his time with Darley and that was also nearby to where he grew up in rural New South Wales.

With now a year under his belt, Tait has a chance to reflect on the opportunities and challenges of starting a new business in the booming Australian bloodstock industry, and indeed on Saturday he had something to celebrate when Levendi (Aus) (Pierro {Aus}) won the G1 Australian Derby. Twin Hills Stud purchased the dam, Lipari (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), in foal to More Than Ready for A$170,000 at last year’s Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

“It’s a year to the day [on Saturday] that we took ownership of the farm and it’s gone really well,” Tait summarized. “Overall we are where we thought we’d be, but probably the way we got through the first year, there are elements that have gone better than anticipated and there are elements that have not lived up to my expectations. But, overall we’re in a good spot.”

“The strength of the business is the quality of the farm,” Tait said. “It’s on fantastic land and has wonderful facilities. We’re looking after a large number of nice horses for the clients, so that’s been really pleasing. I knew it was a good farm, but you have to get that message across and you have to get people to come with you on that. I think that’s happened.

“Building a business from scratch is a challenging thing to do,” he added. “We’re facing the challenges that come with that, but it’s very clear to see the rewards that come with facing those challenges and building a business.”

One of those challenges, Tait admitted, was standing stallions. Tait syndicated the locally raced Odyssey Moon (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), winner of the Inglis Nursery and second in the G1 Sires’ Produce S. at two before winning a Group 3 and three, and shuttled the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Bobby’s Kitten (Kitten’s Joy) from Lanwades Stud in Newmarket.

“We stood two stallions that year and I think that was probably more challenging than we anticipated,” Tait said. “It’s a very competitive stallion market but I firmly believe stallions will always have a place in our business.”

Tait said Bobby’s Kitten won’t return to Australia this year.

“The number of mares he attracted was disappointing but I’m a great believer in the horse and I’m pleased to have some mares in foal to him myself,” he said. “Ultimately, stallions need to cover enough mares to be competitive.”

He noted that shuttle stallions have experienced a decline in popularity in Australia in recent years, but warned against ruling out their use.

“There’s no doubt colonial stallions are more popular than shuttle stallions; for instance in Bobby’s Kitten’s case, that’s reflected in his fee,” he said. “He was a Group 1-winning turf sprinter as a 3-year-old beating older horses winning America’s best turf sprint race. If that was his [racing] profile in Australia, he wouldn’t be standing at the fee he was standing at; he’d be a lot higher.”

“There’s no doubt shuttle stallions are not as popular as they once were. When I started working for Darley in Australia shuttle stallions stood at a premium and local stallions stood at a relative discount. It’s been completely reversed now. But shuttle stallions have their place. People can be dismissive in saying, ‘you take Danehill out of it, what have shuttle stallions done?’ Well, you can’t take Danehill out of it. You can’t take Street Cry out of it. You can’t take More Than Ready out of it. They’re really good stallions who had a really positive influence on the breed here. There will be shuttle stallions that come here and continue to make it. At the moment the market dictates that it’s more challenging to stand them but people will continue to try and some will make it.”

“Good stallions can come from anywhere. Odyssey Moon is a Group 3 winner, Group 1-placed by a very good stallion. I Am Invincible is a Group 3 winner, Group 1-placed, by a very good stallion. There are possibilities.”

Tait applies that same cyclical theory to the current focus on breeding sprinters in Australia. While the breed Down Under has become almost completely speed-focused, and successful and recognized for it on an international level, he says there is no reason to think that won’t someday change.

“It will evolve,” Tait said. “Sir Tristram and Zabeel dominated Australian staying races. That’s been taken over by European horses, but who is to say some locally bred horses won’t be in vogue in 20 years’ time? You look at Pierro, who is from the Zabeel sireline, and he’s had the Derby winner and the Oaks winner in his first crop. Who knows. He might be the influence on stamina. I don’t think we need to beat ourselves up about it [breeding fewer horses with stamina]. People will always find a way to try to have the best horses, and if people are willing to invest large sums of money on horses in Europe to win those races, the best of luck to them.”

Tait’s international experience and reputation should stand him in good stead with Twin Hills, but he is respectful of the challenge of gaining market share in a competitive industry.

“The one thing I probably underestimated was starting a business on Apr. 7 of last year and getting ourselves into the market,” he said. “You have to build a brand, and a brand takes a long time to build. The time it will take to build that brand is not a short period of time.”

The Australian racing and bloodstock industries are largely considered the envy of other global racing jurisdictions, and Tait pointed to a strong purse structure, a good culture for ownership and public enthusiasm for racing as reasons for the current optimistic outlook.

“The general state of the economy is always the most influential driver of the Thoroughbred industry, and the Australian economy is going well, as is the world economy,” he said. “At a more micro level, the development of racing, particularly in New South Wales, and the increased returns to participants that have come into place the last five to 10 years have been hugely positive. If you have a horse that wins in Sydney on a Saturday you’re winning a meaningful amount of money relative to the costs. When you’re winning A$100,000 minimum for a Saturday race, that’s a multiple of what it costs to have a horse in training for a year. In the comparable jurisdictions, that equation is not as good.”

“I think there is a broader interest in racing [in Australia] than there are in other places and that then manifests itself in wagering, ownership, and then the breadth of ownership because of the culture of syndication. That makes for a very healthy industry. What we don’t have is the mega-wealth that you get in Europe and America. Luckily, some of that wealth finds its way to Australia by way of overseas investors that are interested in the business here, but we don’t have that depth of wealth that exists in America and Europe, and that’s an advantage they have there.”

Tait said that while there are opportunities to take elements of the industries in other jurisdictions and try to implement them elsewhere, it is important to recognize that for the most part these involve deeply ingrained cultures, and change isn’t likely to be easy or immediate.

“You can always take the best ideas, but it takes time to implement things,” he said. “You have to have the right people leading it and you have to have people with a willingness to change, which doesn’t come easy; people don’t like change. There are things we could do better in Australia, there are things that could be done better in America or Europe or wherever, but the people who are influential are doing the best job they can. I use the term ‘a culture of syndication’; a culture by definition takes a long time to develop. So to say we want to emulate in Europe and America what happens in Australia with regards to syndicates, that’s not an easy thing to achieve in a short period of time.”

“I felt living in America at times that people within the industry would talk the industry down, which I found frustrating,” he said. “You look at the Kentucky Derby, and there is no other race in the world where you have a combination of the race for the industry and the race for the public. The Golden Slipper is the most important race for the industry here, but the Melbourne Cup is the most important race for the public. The Kentucky Derby is an incredible event, and if you have a sporting event that you can get 170,000 people to, which they do at the Kentucky Derby, things are going quite well.”

Twin Hills Stud will debut as a consignor at Thursday’s Chairman’s Sale, selling the well-related Shantha’s Girl (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) in foal to American Pharoah, and Tait said selling at public auction will be part of the business plan going forward.

“We’re only selling a small number of horses at the sales this year, and we’ll have yearlings next year,” he said. “We have some nice yearlings on the farm that we’re looking forward to offering. Like anyone in the business we’re trying to build up a good clientele who enjoy working with us to try and achieve what their goals are, so if people are wanting to sell commercially we’re delighted to do that for them.”

“Australia is in many ways the envy of the world in terms of the way the business operates and there are so many different factors that go into that,” Tait said. “But I think it’s important we’re not too self congratulatory and don’t rest on our laurels and continue to promote what we do and continue to make sure we are a really effective industry.”



Scat Daddy Colt ‘Justifies’ the Hype in Santa Anita Derby

Unbeaten ‘TDN Rising Star’ JUSTIFY (c, 3, Scat Daddy–Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper) passed his first real class test with flying colors, effortlessly wiring the GI Santa Anita Derby to secure his spot in the starting gate on the First Saturday in May. Arguably the most hyped horse on the GI Kentucky Derby trail on the back of a pair of dominant victories at Santa Anita this winter, the $500,000 KEESEP buy was originally being pointed to the GI Arkansas Derby next weekend, but was re-routed to this test after stablemate and fellow ‘Rising Star’ McKinzie (Street Sense) was sidelined. Billed as a two-horse race between Justify and MGISW Bolt d’Oro, the Bob Baffert pupil was given the nod at 4-5 with his chief rival at even-money. Seizing the early advantage, Justify was well within himself as he ticked off early fractions of :23.96 and :47.85 while well clear of Bolt d’Oro. The Ruis runner closed the gap on the backstretch and the stage appeared set for the showdown everyone expected. However, Justify always had his rival’s measure and was still under a hand ride in the stretch, while Bolt d’Oro was asked for everything he had and guided to the inside of the leader by Javier Castellano. Hall of Famer Mike Smith gave Justify two taps of the whip in the final sixteenth and the he coasted home to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:49.72. Bolt d’Oro held second over longshot Core Beliefs (Quality Road). Justify is the 25th Grade I winner for the late Scat Daddy, who was also represented by GII Toyota Blue Grass S. runner-up Flameaway. The winner shares ownership with last Saturday’s GI Florida Derby hero Audible (Into Mischief), who he will face off with in Louisville. Part owners China Horse Club, WinStar and SF Racing are also the connections of today’s impressive GIII Bay Shore S. winner National Flag (Speightstown) and GII Tampa Bay Derby victor Quip (Distorted Humor), who takes Justify’s place in Arkansas. Justify’s breeder John Gunther is also responsible for today’s GII Wood Memorial S. winner Vino Rosso (Curlin). Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0.

O-China Horse Club, WinStar, Head of Plains, Starlight & SF Racing; B-John Gunther (KY); T-Bob Baffert.

 



What Is The Price Of A Good Horse?

The Australian bloodstock industry is a more commercial one than its counterparts in Europe and America, in the sense that a greater percentage of the better-performed horses in a given crop are put on the market. This is backed by figures produced by Aushorse earlier this year that showed that 67% of Group 1 winners in Australia in 2014, 2015 and 2016 were offered at public auction before their Group 1 win; that percentage was 61% in the U.S. and 46% in Europe.

A large percentage of the fields for some of Australia’s most important races have passed through a sales ring (for instance, 17 of the 20 runners in this year’s G1 Golden Slipper had gone under the hammer), and that gives us an opportunity to look at what segment of the market these top horses are coming from.

The Golden Slipper winner, Estijaab (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}, out of the dual Group 1 winner Response {Aus}, by Charge Forward {Aus}) cost Emirates Park Stud A$1.7-million at Easter last year, and was the second-most expensive filly and fourth most expensive yearling sold at the sale. Naturally, she leads last year’s Easter graduates by earnings and is the lone Group 1 graduate of that Easter crop at this very early stage (just three Group 1s for juveniles have been staged thus far this season). Last year’s Slipper winner, She Will Reign (Aus) (also out of a mare by the Red Ransom stallion Charge Forward), had cost just A$20,000 at Inglis’s Classic sale the year prior, thus giving proof to the theory that top-class winners emanate from all levels of the market.

The only other stakes winner so far from last year’s Easter sale also comes from the lower market: China Horse Club’s Irish Bet (Aus) (Smart Missile {Aus}), winner of the Listed Restricted Inglis Nursery on debut in December. Mick Flanagan, who signed the sales ticket on Irish Bet, told the TDN after that win, “Irish Bet was a cheap, good-looking horse and the other cheap one I bought at that sale a few years ago was Vanbrugh [cost A$100,000 and won the G1 Spring Champion S.].”

China Horse Club has spent aggressively on colts at this sale in recent years, and its efforts were rewarded this season with dual Group 1 winner Russian Revolution (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), a A$320,000 purchase, retiring to Newgate Farm as one of the more popular new sires for 2018.

Irish Bet wasn’t a rare buy at the middle to lower end of the market. Flanagan said, “We bought a couple of those cheaper ones last year in New Zealand and Australia. He wasn’t the only one, and we’ve done that in America and Europe a bit as well. We bought eight or nine yearlings in Europe and they didn’t really go more than 300,000, and there were a few in there for less than 100,000 as well.”

Last year’s Easter sale has yielded three stakes-placed horses: the A$100,000 Cristal Eyes (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}), bought by Echo Beach Bloodstock and in training at Lindsay Park; Canyonero (Aus) (Pierro {Aus}), a A$130,000 purchase by trainer Mark Newnham; and the Team Hawkes-trained Wild Planet (Aus) (Animal Kingdom {Aus}), a A$280,000 buy. Three of those five black-type 2-year-olds, including Estijaab, were offered by Arrowfield Stud.

Last year’s A$2.5-million top lot, Melik (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), is in training with Peter and Paul Snowden for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum and was third in a trial on Feb. 12. Meticulous (Aus), the A$2.4-million son of Medaglia d’Oro split between the likes of Coolmore, Nordic Racing and Breeding, Stonestreet and Aquis, is in the same stable but is yet to trial. The A$1.8-million filly Al Naifa (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) won at second asking on Jan. 21 also in the colours of Sheikh Khalifa for trainer Tony McEvoy.

Looking at the 2016 Easter sale results naturally allows for a clearer picture, and that sale is thus far performing admirably in comparison to 2015, with so far 17 group-winning graduates (equal to 2015) and seven Group 1 winners (one more than 2015). With the exception of the Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), who was passed in at A$250,000, Coolmore Stud offered the two least expensive of those Group 1 winners: Eclipse Thoroughbreds’s VRC Oaks winner Pinot (Aus) (Pierro {Aus}) (A$200,000) and the Blue Diamond winner Catchy (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) (A$220,000). Three of those seven Group 1 winners are by Fastnet Rock and those also include the New Zealand Group 1 winner Age Of Fire (Aus) (A$400,000) and the G1 Coolmore Stud S. winner Merchant Navy (Aus) (A$350,000), who will eventually stand alongside his sire at Coolmore.

The priciest of those Group 1 winners was Shadwell’s South African Group 1 winner Mustaaqeem (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) at A$1.75-million, and he is the lone black-type winner thus far from the nine seven-figure yearlings sold at the sale. Summer Passage (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), another NZ Group 1 winner, cost A$800,000.

The remaining group-winning graduates of the 2016 Easter sale include one purchased for under A$100,000 and three apiece bought in the brackets of A$100,000 to A$250,000, A$251,000 to A$500,000 and a half-million to A$850,000.

Gai Waterhouse bought the two top-priced lots at Easter 2016. The A$2.3-million Boulder City (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), a half-brother to Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), is unraced and untrialed, while the A$1.8-million Regal Stage (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), a full-brother to champion sprinter Lankan Rupee (Aus), has trialed once, a third in November. Five of the nine millionaires from the sale are winners and one of those, the listed-placed Siege Of Quebec (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), topped Thursday night’s Chairman’s Sale – Racing Prospects at A$1-million, with Aquis Farm buying into him with trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

Q: Where do go horses come from? A: Everywhere. All the more reason for buyers to do their homework across the board this week at Easter.

 



Super Derby Grade Reinstated After Move Back to Dirt

The Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, which lost its Grade III status for 2017 when it was switched to the turf, has been reinstated as a Grade III for 2018 by the American Graded Stakes Committee after it was announced that it would return to its previous dirt surface. “The committee has reviewed this change from 2017, and has determined that because the race will be reverting to its historical conditions after only one year as a turf race and has run under those historical conditions in two of the last three years, the race’s Grade III status will be reinstated for 2018,” a release explained.



Waikato Stud 2018 Roster Released

The six-strong roster and fees for the 2018 season of New Zealand-based Waikato Stud were announced early Friday morning. New Zealand champion sire Savabeel (Aus) (Zabeel {NZ}), who has a quintet of new Group 1 winners during the 2017-2018 season is standing for a private fee. The sire of 17 Group 1 winners stood for NZ$100,000 last year. Veteran champion sire Pins (Aus) (Snippets) is New Zealand’s leading living broodmare sire, with his daughters responsible for 28 black-type winners already, and his fee has been set at NZ$25,000. Ocean Park (NZ) (Thorn Park {Aus}), who sired G1 New Zealand Derby runner-up Mongolianconqueror (NZ) with his oldest foals just 3-year-olds, will command NZ$30,000, while Sacred Falls (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}), whose oldest foals are yearlings, is also set at NZ$30,000. Tivaci (NZ) (High Chaparral {Ire}) is slated for NZ$20,000 and is expecting his first foals and the roster is rounded off by Rock ‘n’ Pop (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) at NZ$9,000.

“We are extremely proud and overwhelmed by the success and popularity of Savabeel and we are conscious of the numbers and book we will commit him to this season,” said stud principal Mark Chittick. “The Savabeel syndicate will therefore be managing the numbers and book he will serve from this season on and his book will be private going forward.”



Uncle Mo Colt Tops Revamped Barretts Sale

DEL MAR, Ca – The Barretts Spring 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, which combined the company’s traditional two juvenile auctions for the first time, was topped Wednesday by a $600,000 son of Uncle Mo. West Point Thoroughbreds’ Terry Finley made the winning bid on hip 14, who was consigned by Eddie Woods.

In all, 74 horses sold Wednesday at Del Mar for a total of $6,421,000. The average was $86,770 and the median was $50,000. Of the 170 catalogued head, 54 were withdrawn and 42 failed to sell for a buy-back rate of 36.2%.

“Like it is across the country, the highly desirable horses are easy to sell,” said Barretts General Manager Kim Lloyd. “There are people after them, there is a lot of competition for them. But for the horses that the market isn’t fond of, it’s tough sledding. We saw that again today.”

Nine horses sold for $200,000 or over during Wednesday’s auction. At last year’s final Barretts March Select Sale, 12 juveniles reached that mark with a top price of $675,000. The top price at last year’s final May sale, and only horse over $200,000, was $245,000. The 2017 March median was $100,000 and the May median was $27,500.

Barretts combined the two auctions in an attempt to present buyers with a larger catalogue of potential purchases and sellers with a broader buying base to market their product.

“I didn’t have any negative comments about combining the sale,” Lloyd said. “Actually everybody was positive about it, the consignors and the buyers. We had a bigger catalogue–and everybody likes that. We had a huge turnout at the preview, we had a great turnout in the barn area and even here at the sale today there was a big turnout. The market determines the prices on the horses. But everything was in place today.”

Of the combined marketplace, Lloyd added, “I think it opens the door for opportunities to sell a horse. I really do. I saw it today.”

West Point Strikes Early for Uncle Mo Colt

West Point Thoroughbreds provided the early fireworks at Barretts Wednesday, seeing off a pair of challengers to secure a colt by Uncle Mo for $600,000. Consigned by Eddie Woods, hip 14 is a California-bred 2-year-old out of Fresia (El Prado {Ire}), a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner His Race to Win (Stormy Atlantic).

“I thought he was a beautiful horse,” West Point’s Terry Finley said after signing the ticket on the colt alongside bloodstock agent David Ingordo. “I thought he was a horse that would have fit in either of the first two sales [OBS March or Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale] we came to. The fact that he is a California-bred, that was just icing on the cake. He was a very special horse.”

West Point has a group of promising prospects by Coolmore’s Uncle Mo and Finley said he is quickly becoming a fan of the stallion.

“We like Uncle Mo–this class of 35 horses that we are going to come to the races with, we have four Uncle Mos. So I am starting to warm up to Uncle Mo a little bit more than I was.”

Finley added West Point may eventually have additional partners on the bay colt, who will be trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.

“There should be a couple of others, but I don’t know who is going to come in yet,” Finley said. “We’ll try to figure that out.”

The juvenile, who was bred by Bar C Racing Stables, was making his second trip through the Barretts sales ring. He was purchased by Woods’s Quarter Pole Enterprises for $60,000 at last year’s Barretts Select Yearling Sale.

“He was a spectacular horse who worked well,” said Woods. “He is a beautiful-looking horse who has been uncomplicated all year.”

Woods continued, “He had a little blemish, that he still has, on a sesamoid. When we vetted him, we sent the X-rays to a lot of different vets around the country for multiple opinions and everyone was very comfortable with it. So we were good to go.”

Of the colt’s quarter-mile work in :21 1/5, Woods admitted, “I thought he might actually go a bit quicker. But we weren’t on the same track that we usually work on. This was a little bit of a slower track, a very forgiving track, but a couple of ticks slower than what we’ve seen in the past. And he wasn’t quite ready to work on that kind of track that far, but because he has natural talent, he did.”

Neal and Pam Christopherson’s Oregon-based Bar C Racing Stables purchased Fresia, with this Uncle Mo foal in utero, for $35,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. Fresia had no reported foal in 2017 and was bred back to Harbor the Gold.

Into Mischief Colt to Zedan

Bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill, bidding on behalf of Amr Zedan, went to $450,000 to secure a colt by Into Mischief from the supplemental catalogue of the Barretts Spring Sale Wednesday at Del Mar. The youngster, who was withdrawn from last month’s OBS March sale due to a minor setback, was rerouted to the Barretts sale and showed up in Southern California with a co-bullet furlong work in :10 flat Monday.

“We thought he was the best colt in the sale and you can’t beat Into Mischief right now,” O’Neill said. “We were prepared to go a little higher–I was kind of surprised it stopped where it stopped. He was an absolutely gorgeous horse. His breeze was great and we got him galloping out really good. We’re extremely excited to have him to say the least.”

Consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, hip 167 is out of Cape Discovery (Cape Town). He was purchased by Ron Fein’s Superfine Farms for $110,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale. Superfine already had a pinhooking score on the juvenile sales season this year. The operation purchased a colt by Fed Biz for $160,000 at the Keeneland September sale and the youngster sold for $725,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale.

O’Neill purchased subsequent ‘TDN Rising Star’ Saudi Chroma (Lucky Pulpit) for $360,000 on behalf of Zedan at last year’s Barretts March sale. The fledgling Zedan Racing Stable will be represented by Tyfosha (Flatter) in Saturday’s GI Ashland S. and by Shane Zain (Medaglia d’Oro) in the GII Lexington S.

“He’s just trying to compete at the top and we thought this was the best colt in here. That’s what he wants to buy,” O’Neill said of Zedan’s business plan.

Hip 167, who has been stabled with the Wavertree horses in Barn D on Del Mar’s backside, will only have a short trip to trainer Doug O’Neill’s barn at the oceanside oval.

“He will go four barns over, he’ll stay here at Del Mar,” Dennis O’Neill confirmed.

Rockingham Ranch Takes Charge

Bloodstock agent Raymie Lightner, bidding on behalf of Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch, signed the ticket at $335,000 to secure a filly (hip 109) from the first crop of Grade I winner Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song). The chestnut filly is out of multiple stakes winner and multiple graded stakes placed Trip for A. J. (Trippi). She was consigned by Becky Thomas’s Sequel Bloodstock.

“From the start, she stood out,” said Lightner. “She looked good on the track–she galloped out strong and looked good doing it. And she had great conformation. There was nothing not to like about her. She was the one we zeroed in on from the start. We are tickled to death to have. She did it all for us.”

Peter Miller will train the filly for Rockingham Ranch. Hartunian’s operation, which won a pair of Breeders’ Cup races last fall, had the second and third-place finishers in last weekend’s G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen and the runner-up in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint.

Also this spring, Rockingham has added a colt by Kantharos (hip 368), purchased for $410,000 at OBS March, and a Medaglia d’Oro colt (hip 95) purchased for $50,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale, to its roster.

The Will Take Charge filly, bred by Lynn Schiff, was purchased by Thomas and Al Pike for $100,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July Yearling Sale.

Solis is All Smiles for Cal-bred Colt

Bloodstock agent Alex Solis, bidding on behalf of a partnership that will include the Roth family’s LNJ Foxwoods, went to $200,000 to secure a colt by Smiling Tiger during Wednesday’s Barretts sale. Out of Perfect Feat (Pleasantly Perfect), hip 63 is a full-brother to stakes winner Spiced Perfection and he worked a co-bullet in :10 flat Monday at Del Mar.

“He breezed really well, he is a big-striding, efficient horse,” Solis said of the colt’s appeal. “He galloped out really well. He’s very well-balanced. And he’s a full to a nice horse.”

Solis continued, “I think, for a Cal-bred, he’ll be a lot of fun to have. The Cal-bred program is so great now. We are breeding Straight Fire (Dominus) in California right now for that exact reason. This is a good way for them to get a taste for the Cal-bred market.”

Multiple Grade I placed Straight Fire was campaigned by a partnership which included Jungle Racing, LNJ Foxwoods and KMN Racing. He now stands at Legacy Ranch.

Hip 63 was consigned by Havens Bloodstock Agency on behalf of breeder Premier Thoroughbreds, which purchased Perfect Feat for $7,500 at the 2014 Barretts January sale. Owned by Phil Lebherz, the burgeoning Premier Thoroughbreds matched that result later in the sale when hip 75, a filly by Violence brought $200,000 from Blinkers On Racing Stable.

Solis said he was happy with Barretts’ new combined 2-year-old in training sale.

“It’s much better having more horses,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing. I think they need to build on it still, but it’s a good start. They are selling horses for a lot of money still.”

 

 



Woodside Park Announces 2018 Roster & Fees

Victoria-based Woodside Park Stud has announced their 2018 roster and fees, reported ANZ Bloodstock News early Thursday. Led by Written Tycoon (Aus) (Iglesia {Aus}) at A$110,000–he commanded A$88,000 in 2017–the roster is augmented by Written Tycoon’s son Rich Enuff (Aus) at A$12,100 and shuttler Cable Bay (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), who will stand for A$13,200. The four-strong roster is rounded out by MG1SW Tosen Stardom (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), who is still in training. His fee will be announced later.

“Woodside’s 2018 stallion roster will have worldwide appeal to broodmare owners with bloodlines from international superstars and colonial speed, with proven champions and promising, exciting young stallions,” Woodside Park Stud Commercial General Manager James Price told ANZ. “Woodside Park Stud is proud to support and grow the Victorian breeding industry, and being passionately Victorian-owned, they believe Written Tycoon will continue to play a pivotal role in the success of the Victorian industry for the rest of his breeding career.

The chestnut’s son Written By (Aus) saluted in the 2018 G1 Blue Diamond S., and was a strong fourth in the G1 Golden Slipper S. Written Tycoon has already sired champion juvenile colt and Golden Slipper hero Capitalist (Aus).

“It’s highly likely that Written By will be awarded champion Australian 2-year-old colt,” he continued. “This will place Written Tycoon in elite company, joining Redoute’s Choice (Aus) as one of only two stallions to have sired two champion 2-year-old colts in Australia in the last 20 years.



Turf Catering’s Larry Wolken Dies

Larry Wolken, who headed Turf Catering for decades and was a Thoroughbred owner, died Mar. 30 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was 87.

Wolken took over operations of Turf Catering from his father in the mid-1960s. The Wolken family had operated concessions at Keeneland from the track’s opening in 1936 until 2015. Turf Catering also ran the concessions at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs from 1934 until 2000.

In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to Old Friends Retirement Farm and/or the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Wolken is survived by his wife, Sue, sons Brad, Mike and Chris Rains, daughter Karyn Shuler, eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.



Trio Share Barretts Bullet

The training preview for the Barretts Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training was held beneath overcast skies and temperatures in the low 60s at Del Mar Monday and a trio of juveniles shared the bullet furlong time of :10 flat. The preview was held in four sets and the Del Mar oval remained fairly consistent throughout the day.

“They are training here now, so they have the track just a little bit slow,” said Barretts General Manager Kim Lloyd. “It is very, very safe. The horses are getting a hold of it well and they are showing themselves off well. Which is very important. People can see their action well over this track. And the main thing is that they come back good. So far, so good. Horses that prepped last week for the preview today came back good and we didn’t hear any talk of any problems. That’s the main thing. We need to get through these previews with horses that are usable and sound.”

The Del Mar grandstand was packed with prospective buyers Monday.

“We are very pleased with the turnout today,” Lloyd said. “A lot of people showed up. There will be plenty of people to buy the ones they want.”

Among the trainers in the stands Monday were Phil D’Amato, Paddy Gallagher, Nick Hines, Bob Hess, Art Sherman, Brian Koriner, Ron Ellis, Dan Hendricks and Simon Callaghan. The bloodstock contingent included Dennis O’Neill, Ben McElroy, David Ingordo, Alex Solis, Jason Litt and Shawn Dugan. West Point’s Terry Finley was on hand, as were Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Billy Koch of Little Red Feather Racing, and Stonestreet’s John Moynihan.

The first bullet furlong work was recorded during the day’s third session, when hip 167 covered the distance in :10 flat for Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables. Out of Cape Discovery (Cape Town), the bay colt was purchased by Ronald Fein’s Superfine Farms for $110,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale and was supplemented to the Spring sale.

“He was supposed to go to OBS [March], but he had a little bit of a setback,” said Dunne. “We took the high road and gave him the time and we came here. It looks like he rewarded us for it. We always thought he was a nice horse from day one.”

Bruno DeBerdt’s Excel Bloodstock sent out hip 58 to work the co-bullet during Wednesday’s fourth set. By Mineshaft, the filly is out of Noble Grey (Forestry) and was purchased by DeBerdt for $85,000 at last year’s September sale.

“She had the athleticism that we look for in a horse,” DeBerdt said of the filly’s appeal as a yearling. “When we broke her, she was a really nice filly all the way through. When we started working her a little bit at the farm, she didn’t show a lot of talent, but she was always right in with the pack. It’s just been recently that she has really separated herself. She acclimated to this track really well. We knew she had a lot of ability and I thought if I had any horse that would go in :10 flat, it would be her.”

DeBerdt agreed the Del Mar surface played fair throughout the day.

“I think it’s a good track,” he said. “If you have a good horse, they are going to work in :10 1/5, or :10 flat and :10 2/5 is a very good move on this track. I’d much rather see a track like this than a bunch of :9 3/5s and :9 4/5s. I’m really happy with it. And it was consistent all day long.”

Rounding out the trio of :10 flat workers was hip 63, a colt by Smiling Tiger. He is consigned by Havens Bloodstock Agency on behalf of breeder Phil Lebherz’s Premier Thoroughbreds. Out of Perfect Feat (Pleasantly Perfect), he is a full-brother to stakes winner Spiced Perfection.

Of the handful of juveniles to work a quarter-mile, hip 121, a colt by Graydar, turned in the fastest time of :21 flat. The gray colt is out of Witch Princess (Exchange Rate) and is consigned by Top Line Sales.

In the lone hiccup of the under-tack show, hip 7, a son of Champ Pegasus, lost the rider and galloped down the stretch before being corralled by the outrider on the backstretch. The incident caused some confusion for the next horse to work, hip 40, a son of He’s Had Enough out of graded stakes winner Le Me Geaux (First Samurai). The youngster, consigned by Wavertree Stables, eventually worked in :10 2/5.

“He got halfway around the turn and the horse got loose,” Dunne explained. “He had to come back and he was back and forth in the chute because they couldn’t figure out whether they were going to stop or go. By the time he actually got around to breezing, he didn’t know whether he was coming or going. Coming out here, we thought he was every bit as fast as the Into Mischief. So he was our big disappointment for the day. We know he is a really good horse from everything he has done at home, so it is a little disappointing when one of yours works and it comes down to a moment that wish you could have back.”

The Barretts Spring Sale will be held Wednesday with bidding scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.



‘Temptress’ Eyeing French 1000 Guineas

Team Valor’s GI Natalma S. heroine Capla Temptress (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) has returned to the care of original trainer Marco Botti from American Hall of Famer Bill Mott and her connections are eyeing the G1 French 1000 Guineas as a potential target. The April-foaled bay holds entries in both the May 6 G1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the French equivalent at Longchamp a week later.

“She is back with us and I’m very pleased with her,” said Botti of his charge, who ran seventh in her lone start for Mott in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 3 when last seen. “She ran at the Breeders’ Cup, then the owners had a meeting afterwards and decided to send her back to Europe. She had 40 days in quarantine after the Breeders’ Cup and arrived back in Newmarket in December. She did well for us last year and I thought she was going to America for good, but thanks to Team Valor she is back.”

Added the Italian, “She will not go for a trial in the [G3] Fred Darling [S. on Apr. 21] or [G3] Nell Gwyn [on Apr. 18]. We are entered in the English Guineas and the French Guineas. We will see how she is mid-April and it would be silly not to consider the English Guineas, but at this stage I would say she is more likely to take her chance in the French Guineas. She has not grown much, but she has done well physically and I think she looks stronger than last year. There is no doubt she has the ability and a great mind and that is a big plus.”

Capla Temptress made her first two starts for Capla Developments and Les Boyer, resulting in a pari of wins over the Chelmsford all-weather on June 21 and in the Lettergold Fillies’ Novice Auction S. that July, before being purchased privately by Team Valor. She lost her unbeaten tag in the G3 Sweet Solera S. at headquarters in August, prior to her Woodbine triumph.




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