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Proven Strategies: No Horsing Around with Independent Contractors

Sun, 2019-01-13 14:42

“Proven Strategies” is a new regular series in the TDN, presented by Keeneland. It is written by Len Green of The Green Group and DJ Stables, who won the 2018 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Jaywalk (Cross Traffic).

by Len Green, John Wollenberg & Agnieszka Kagan

It is not uncommon for pinhookers or trainers to employ seasonal workers at sales or around the racetrack. Some of these employees may be considered as independent contractors.

The perception that employers are attempting to circumvent paying payroll taxes by classifying workers as independent contractors has caused the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to step up its efforts in analyzing this controversial topic more closely.

This article provides an overview of the factors examined by the IRS and offers insight into how to better secure independent contractor status.

The Advantages of Employing an Independent Contractor

Traditionally, many employers have classified workers as self-employed or as independent contractors. There are various benefits to this classification:

1) By positioning themselves as “self-employed” or independent contractors, no payroll or income taxes need to be withheld from paychecks.

2) Independent contractors do not have to be covered under pension plans and employers save on insurance and workmen’s compensation costs.

The IRS Perspective

To help determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the IRS has developed a 20-factor control test based on common law principles. The 20-factor test is an analytical tool only, there is no “magic number” of relevant points. The factors are merely points for consideration in evaluating the extent to which the employer can “direct and control” the worker.

Below are some of the more relevant factors to consider when evaluating whether an individual is an employee or self-employed/independent contractor.

Employee Factors

Instructions: A worker who is required to comply with another’s set of instructions is ordinarily considered an employee.

Training: Formal or informal training at an employer’s expense is indicative of an employer relationship.

Integration: Integrating the worker’s services into the business operations generally shows that the worker is subject to control.

Services rendered personally: If the services have to be personally rendered, the employer probably controls the means as well as the results.

Hiring, supervising and paying assistants: Unless workers hire, supervise and pay their own assistants, if any, they are likely an employee.

Continuing relationship: The longer the liaison, the more likely an employee.

Full-time required: A full-time position is indicative of an employer-employee relationship, whereas independent workers choose their own hours.

Oral or written reports: Regular accountability of progress is usually a sign of control.

Payment of expenses: Reimbursement tends to support an employer-employee relationship.

Self-Employed or Independent Contractor Factors

Hours of work: Independent contractors control their own time.

Order of sequence set: Only a nonemployee is free to determine his/her own approach, pattern, priority and schedule.

Multiple assignments: Workers who perform more than one job at a time for multiple different businesses are likely an independent contractor. Exercise riders at tracks tend to fall into this category especially if they rotate among barns or farms. Payment by hour, week or month: Independent contractors are typically paid by the job, not in regular pattern.

Tools and materials: Independent contractors provide their own tools and materials.

Economic loss: A worker who is subject to the risk of economic loss due to a liability for expenses is an independent contractor.

Right to discharge: An independent contractor generally cannot be fired if the contractual specifications are met.

Right to terminate: Employees have the right to terminate their job without incurring liability.

Safeguards to Withstand IRS Scrutiny

Since an IRS audit can result in an assessment of penalties and interest, in addition to the employer/employee payroll taxes that will be due, it becomes incumbent to take measures to preserve the intended working relationship.

Suggestions from The Green Group

1) Apply for an advanced ruling, Form SS-8, entitled “Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.” The advantage to this filing is to get clarity as to whether a worker is an employee. The form focuses on behavioral control, financial control and relationship of the worker.

2) Enter into a written consulting agreement with language coordinated to the 20-factor control test. The contract should specify the nature of the work to be performed, discuss the terms and conditions and state the responsibilities of the independent contractor.

3) Utilize practices that are consistent with recognized practices in the horse industry, specifically with farm owners, pinhookers and trainers.

State Interpretations

Please check as to your state’s specific regulations. Since some states apply their own standards, often stricter than the IRS rules in terms of reclassifying independent contractors into employees. Some use a three-prong “ABC” test with the employer having the burden to prove that the relationship is that of an independent contractor, rather than as an employee. In other states, an independent contractor is someone you hire to work on a task unrelated to the field of business you are associated in and whose work you have no control over. While still other states use a “level of control” test.

Department of Labor Audits (DOL)

As if a trainer’s life isn’t difficult enough, the DOL has started extensive audits at racetracks to make sure workers are being properly paid for their hours. Since many trainers do not traditionally use “time clocks” to keep track of hours worked, this becomes an expensive issue.

Our team has had success in this area.

Summary

You must analyze whether a potential employer-employee relationship exists with people who work for you.

Penalties can be imposed for failure to withhold income and employment taxes, and qualified retirement plans could be jeopardized if employees who should be covered are not due to misclassification as independent contractors.

Bottom Line

You should have an accountant who is familiar with the Thoroughbred Industry review your practices. You might need to change your procedures to satisfy the complicated IRS rules. If the IRS challenges you and wins, you may be subject to interest and penalties.

If you have any specific questions, please call us for a free one-hour consultation.

The Green Group

Phone: (732) 634-5100

 

Under the Radar: Super Saver

Sat, 2019-01-12 16:57

In this new series we ask agents and others who book a lot of mares for their clients which sires might be flying slightly under the radar in this breeding season. Who might be getting overlooked in the rush for the new, hot thing? Read on.

Craig Bandoroff

SUPER SAVER, WinStar, $30,000

Super Saver is still a horse I feel can make a big comeback and impact. He had three legitimate Grade I stakes winners in his first crop. His $30,000 fee is half of what he was in 2017. Super Saver had 24 2-year-old winners in 2018 and a $117,000 yearling average. These 2-year-olds hitting the racetrack were from his $50,000 crop and the yearlings going to sales in 2019 were his best-bred crop at $65,000. He has gone through his lull with his third and fourth crops on the racetrack that many stallions now have to overcome and he is primed for a major up-tick with these 3-year-olds and a strong group of 2-year-olds hitting the track this summer. Plus, he has the numbers to keep going with 154, 154 and 127 mares bred the past three seasons. I think where a stallion stands is important and WinStar has delivered time and time again.

Letter to the Editor: Fierro on Clarke

Sat, 2019-01-12 16:09

My cohorts Jay Kilgore, Frank Mitchell and I had the distinct pleasure and honor of being introduced to Harvey Clarke by his major domo Steve Shahinian several years ago and we were among the lucky to have been in his orbit. He had an unerring dedication to quality and a calming attitude which belied his prominence in the “real world,” which is New York City real estate–a field which can turn a person into something other than a prince. Harvey, however, was a prince.

Early on when we ran across each other at a sale he noted my Yankees cap and raised an eyebrow and made a charmingly crass remark about my loyalties, explaining that he was, of course, a Mets fan. I informed him on the spot that I attended the opening day of the Mets when they moved into Shea Stadium in the 1960s and got the last seat in the stadium in the top row in right field, (his eyebrows disappeared below his cap) and that I’d attended many a Mets game, which was convenient since I was a fan and a resident of Queens—and rubbed it in when he told me he lived in New Jersey. I told him the Mets were second in my heart–he was not amused, but he had an inscrutable smirk on his face. This was a man we will all miss for his charm, insight, humor, and ability to make so many good choices. Rest, my friend.

–Bob Fierro

 

Laurel Jocks Escape Serious Injury in Spill

Sat, 2019-01-12 15:55

Jockeys Horacio Karamanos, Trevor McCarthy and Jomar Torres escaped serious injury following a three-horse spill in the sixth race, a $35,000 maiden claiming event for 3-year-old fillies, at Laurel Park Friday. The riders, who were taken to the hospital for evaluation, were released later that night. Karamanos, who was back at Laurel Saturday morning, finished second aboard Devine Mischief (Into Mischief) in the What a Summer S. later in the afternoon.
“He’s doing OK,” agent Frank Douglas said. “He came out this morning and worked a couple horses and he’s riding this afternoon. He just went to the hospital to get checked out and make sure that he’s OK. He got released last night about 8 o’clock.”
Coming off Laurel’s fall meet championship, McCarthy is taking off all mounts this weekend and hopes to return to action next week, according to agent Scott Silver said. Maryland’s leading rider in 2014 and 2016, McCarthy had been named to ride in a trio of stakes on Saturday’s card.
“He’s sore and banged up a little bit; luckily nothing major that we know about at the moment,” said Silver. “He’s off for the weekend and we’ll see how we are for next week. We’re going to try to be back next week but we’ll see how he’s feeling.”
He added, “He got lucky in the sense that he didn’t get trampled and he didn’t get run over by his own horse. It was a miracle that he didn’t get badly hurt. I only watched it the one time, but from what everyone’s telling me, it’s amazing he escaped the way he did. We certainly didn’t want to miss today by any means, but if we’ve got to miss a week or two, I’ll take it.”
Torres was replaced on his two mounts Sunday. He is named in one races Sunday at Laurel and one race Wednesday, Jan. 16 at Charles Town.
“He’s sore …but he’s OK,” said agent Tom Stift. “Everything cleared at the hospital last night. I was at Delaware and as soon as I saw it I packed a bag and started heading towards Baltimore. It’s amazing. He’s going to take off and hopefully, start back riding next week.”
The spill occurred on the far turn when stalker Tuffy’s Way (Jump Start) stumbled and fell, sending McCarthy to the ground near the rail. Lucky Dilly (Honorable Dillon), who was right behind, tripped over the fallen horse, unseating Karamanos, while Torres was trailing the field on Kimberly B. (Tritap), who collided with Tuffy’s Way. Both Tuffy’s Way and Kimberly B. were euthanized.

Pegasus Runners on the Worktab

Sat, 2019-01-12 15:27

GI Florida Derby hero Audible (Into Mischief) headlined the group of GI Pegasus World Cup contenders on the worktab Saturday, breezing five panels in 1:00.91 (5/14) at his trainer’s Palm Beach Downs winter base. The Todd Pletcher trainee worked in company with stablemate Impact Player (City Zip) (video).

“Audible’s training really well,” said Pletcher. “I’ve been pleased with all of his works, particularly this morning. It was a good, solid five-eighths with a strong gallop-out that we were looking for. All indications are he’s in good form and coming up to the race very well.”

Following his Florida Derby score with a third-place finish behind Justify (Scat Daddy) in the GI Kentucky Derby, Audible was subsequently sidelines and returned a good-looking winner in Churchill Downs’s Cherokee Run S. Nov. 3. He was last seen finishing a surprising second as the heavy favorite in Gulfstream’s GIII Harlan’s Holiday S., which has become the local prep for the Jan. 26 Pegasus.

“It wasn’t what we were hoping for,” Pletcher said. “We needed a race to build him up for the Pegasus. It didn’t go as planned. He was a prohibitive favorite. Unfortunately, before the race, the skies opened and we got a downpour into a harrowed track. They tried to seal it after that but it was too late. I think, more than anything, he didn’t like the condition of the track. He didn’t fire his best shot. He came out of it well and has trained better than ever coming into the Pegasus. It served its purpose in terms of conditioning.”

The Pegasus is run at the same 1 1/8-mile trip as the Florida Derby, which Pletcher thinks the colt prefers.

“I think a mile and an eighth is ideal for him, especially if there’s a good contested pace,” the trainer said. “That’s important for him. He likes to settle early. If we can get some good solid fractions. Some of the main contenders have a lot of speed. If they mix it up a little bit, I think he’ll benefit from that.”

Over at Gulfstream Park West, Gunnevera (Dialed In) continued his preparations for the $9 million event with a six-furlong work in 1:15.80 (1/2) under jockey Irad Ortiz (video).

“He worked really good,” said Ortiz. “He’s doing everything right. Hopefully, he comes back to racing the way he is right now.”

Third behind Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) and West Coast (Flatter) in last year’s Pegasus, Gunnevera finished second in both the GI Woodward S. Sept. 1 and the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3.

“I feel very happy with him,” said Sano. “He’s a different horse. He’s a stronger horse.”

Grade I winner Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul {Ire}) continued his Pegasus preparations at trainer Dallas Stewart’s winter home at Fair Grounds, breezing a best-of-77 five furlongs in 1:00 flat.

“Just a strong, basic work for him,” Stewart said. “That’s him. He’s doing great.”

Winner of the GIII Ack Ack S., Seeking the Soul checked in second behind a dominant performance from the reopposing City of Light (Quality Road) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Nov. 3. The homebred finished third when attempting to defend his GI Clark H. title Nov. 23.

“If he gets a good position and it’s his day, he’s very competitive,” said owner/breeder Chuck Fipke. “He’s an outstanding horse, and he deserves to take another shot. The last Pegasus, unfortunately, he got a bone chip that Dr. [Robert] Hunt said probably affected his race, so he only came in fifth. It took a long time for him to recover. But he won a Grade III at Churchill, and we’re hoping [for a big performance].”

 

Notable US-Bred Runners in Japan: Jan. 14, 2019

Sat, 2019-01-12 13:29

In this continuing series, Alan Carasso takes a look ahead at US-bred and/or conceived runners entered for the upcoming weekend at the tracks on the Japan Racing Association circuit, with a focus on pedigree and/or performance in the sales ring. Here are the horses of interest for special holiday cards Monday at Kyoto and Nakayama Racecourses:

Monday, January 14, 2019
3rd-KYO, ¥13,720,000 ($126k), Allowance, 4yo/up, 1800m
ZERUCH c, 3, (Awesome Again–Heavenly Romance {Jpn}, by Sunday Silence) is one of eight winners from nine to race for his dam, who defeated the likes of Zenno Rob Roy (Jpn), Dance in the Mood (Jpn), Hat Trick (Jpn) and Tap Dance City in the 2005 Tenno Sho. She has gone on to be a tremendous producer for North Hills, having bred GSW and American Classic-placed Lani (Tapit), Japanese MGSW & MG1SP Awardee (Jungle Pocket {Jpn}) and MSW Amour Briller (Smart Strike). Zeruch most recently broke his maiden at Chukyo Dec. 16 (see below, gate 10). B-North Hills Co. Limited (KY)

4th-NKY, ¥11,400,000 ($105k), Newcomers, 3yo, 1200m
BEST MAGIC (c, 3, Speightstown–Glinda the Good, by Hard Spun) cost $200K as a Keeneland September yearling and blossomed into a $700K OBS April juvenile after drilling an eighth of a mile in :10 flat. That breeze came just 10 days after his champion half-brother Good Magic (Curlin) added to his resume with a game victory in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. The dual stakes-winning and Grade II-placed Glinda the Good is a half-sister to GSW & GISP Take the Ribbon (Chester House) and the female family also includes Grade I winners Magical Maiden (Lord Avie) and her daughter Miss Houdini (Belong to Me). B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY)

 

WATCH: The well-related Zeruch breaks his maiden at Chukyo

Accelerate Works for Pegasus

Fri, 2019-01-11 16:56

Horse of the Year finalist Accelerate (Lookin At Lucky), last seen capturing the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs Nov. 3, had his penultimate workout at Santa Anita Friday morning for the $9-million GI Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26, going seven furlongs in a bullet 1:27.20 (1/4) with assistant trainer Juan Leyva astride.

“I got him in 1:27 and [galloping] out a mile in 1:40 4/5, so it was a good long-distance work,” trainer John Sadler said. “On this track, it’s not super-fast. He’ll come back next week with more of a blowout type work, like five-eighths or something like that. But I’m glad we got this one in today because of the weather. It’s going to rain tomorrow and we’ve got a lot of rain next week.”

City of Light (Quality Road), winner of the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Nov. 3, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 (8/95) at Santa Anita Friday. He is also aiming for a start in the Pegasus.

Channel Maker on Course for Pegasus Turf…

Grade I winner Channel Maker (English Channel), hero of last term’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic S., has joined the field for the $7-million GI Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26. The Bill Mott-trained 5-year-old gelding, who is owned by Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R.A. Hill and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, is on course to make his ninth Grade I start in his last 10 races in the world’s richest turf race.

“He has put up some really great numbers,” Dean Reeves said. “We looked at him as a horse that, for a number of years, we could run in the top turf races, not only in the United States, but we could take this horse to England or Dubai, wherever we wanted to go. Certainly, we had the Pegasus as a race we were going to point to when we talked about partnering in the horse.”

F-T Kentucky Winter Mixed Catalogue Now Online

Fri, 2019-01-11 16:10

Fasig-Tipton has catalogued 429 entries to date for its Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale, to be held Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 4 and 5, in Lexington, Kentucky. Sessions will begin daily at 10 a.m.

The sale will also feature a supplemental catalogue that will be available online and on the sales grounds. Fasig-Tipton will continue to accept supplemental entries.

Hips 1-274 will be offered in the Monday session. Hips 275-429, followed by the supplemental catalogue, will be offered in the Tuesday session.

“This year’s catalogue features graded stakes performing racing and broodmare prospects, proven producers in foal to exciting sires, and a large group of short yearlings with good sire power,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “Those looking to fill their orders before the start of breeding season will find a number of interesting opportunities once again at Kentucky Winter Mixed.”

The Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale catalogue may now be viewed online. Print catalogues will be available beginning Jan. 18. The catalogue will also be available via the equineline sales catalogue app.

Owner/Breeder Harvey Clarke Dies

Fri, 2019-01-11 16:02

Harvey Clarke, a prominent owner/breeder who bred the likes of GI Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley) and co-campaigned MGSWs Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile) and Soldat (War Front), passed away Thursday night at his home in Franklin Lakes, NJ, after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 77.

President of the New York City-based AJ Clarke Real Estate Corp., The Bronx native became involved in Thoroughbred racing at a modest level on the New York and New Jersey circuits in the late 1970s. He increased his family’s involvement in the sport in 2003, and enjoyed particular success in the first half of the 2010s as both an owner and breeder.

Just one year after making it to the Derby with Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Soldat (co-owned by Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman and W. Craig Robertson III), Clarke saw I’ll Have Another, who he sold as a yearling, take the 2012 “Run for the Roses” and GI Preakness S. A year later, the Clarke-bred speedster Havana (Dunkirk) annexed the GI Champagne S. before finishing second in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; and that same season Cairo Prince, owned originally by the same group as Soldat, took the GII Nashua S. Godolphin purchased a majority interest in the now-promising young sire after he won the GII Holy Bull S. in 2014.

Along with Brookdale Farm, Clarke bred and sold 2014 GI Coaching Club American Oaks and GI Alabama S. and 2015 GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff heroine Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat) out of his and Brookdale founder Fred Seitz’s MSW/GSP Exotic Bloom (Montbrook). They had already sold Exotic Bloom, a $65,000 OBS June purchase, for $500,000 in foal to Quality Road at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November Sale.

“Harvey has been a friend and client for 42 years and we never exchanged a cross word,” said bloodstock agent Steve Shahinian. “Our friend, Dr. Michael Chovanes, put it best when he told me that, ‘Knowing Harvey Clarke has made me a better person,’ and I think there are many people in this world that feel the same way.”

Clarke is survived by his wife, Donna, and children Scott, Alyssa, Nancy, Jennifer and Robert. A funeral service will be held at Robert Schoem’s Menorah Chapel in Paramus, NJ on Monday at 11:00 a.m.

 

Taking Stock: The ‘Speightstown Effect’ Revisited

Fri, 2019-01-11 15:41

No, WinStar’s Speightstown (Gone West–Silken Cat, by Storm Cat) is not an underrated sire, as some said on social media shortly after the stallion’s Competitionofideas won the Gl American Oaks at Santa Anita Dec. 29. Speightstown is by all standards a top-class stallion, and at age 21 he’s just as appealing now as he’s been the last decade. He may, however, be a bit misunderstood.

Competitionofideas became her sire’s 15th individual winner at the highest level and his 99th overall black-type winner, numbers commensurate for a stallion who will stand for $80,000 live foal this year, his 15th season. A prolific sire of winners that act on dirt and turf over a variety of distances (when bred accordingly), Speightstown is a throwback to the established sires of the past in several ways, notably this: from named foals of racing age–not starters–he gets more than 80% runners, more than 60% winners, and 10% black-type winners–stats reminiscent of leading stallions from the pre-big-book age. Speightstown is a bit of a bargain now as his fee has dropped from the $100,000 he commanded from 2016 to 2018, and this may be a nod to age and to the distinct pattern of development of his Grade l winners, something I labelled “The Speightstown Effect” four years ago in a blog post at my day job at Werk Thoroughbred Consultants (WTC). You can read it here, and I suggest you do for more textural background, but if you read on you’ll get the gist of the argument plus the added data that’s brought it up to date.

A winner of 10 of 16 starts and the earner of $1,258,256, Speightstown was the champion sprinter at age six in 2004, when he won the Gl Breeders’ Cup Sprint and four other black-type races. He wasn’t a stakes winner before that, and his career was marked by long gaps away from the track due to various mishaps and injuries from two to five. Because, as a $2 million yearling, he was always highly regarded, he was patiently persevered with and finally rewarded his connections, even if it was years later than anticipated.

An attractive, muscular, and compact horse, Speightstown entered stud at WinStar in 2005 for a $40,000 fee, and the common and altogether natural assumption was that he’d get fast and early horses–which he does. Almost a quarter of his black-type winners are 2-year-olds and about 20% of his named 2-year-olds win; and many of his top runners are sprinter/ milers. Because of his impeccable consistency, Speightstown’s fee has never dropped below $35,000 (in 2009 and 2010 after the global economic collapse), and from 2011 until the drop in fee this year it only went up, first to $50,000 (2011 and 2012), then to $60,000 (2013), $80,000 (2014 and 2015), and finally to $100,000 (2016 to 2018).

The Speightstown Effect…

What is the “Speightsown Effect?”

It’s this: Speightstown doesn’t get 2-year-old Grade l winners or spring 3-year-old Grade l winners. From 11 crops through the end of 2018 numbering almost 1000 foals and including 2-year-olds, Speightstown has never had a 2-year-old Grade l or Group 1 winner to date, and none before July of their 3-year-old seasons. All rules, of course, may eventually be broken–see Apollo and Justify–but from a broader perspective the “Speightstown Effect” is perhaps an indicator that the stallion’s best progeny need more time than expected to mature–just as he did–and aren’t necessarily the best classic prospects, even though he can get runners that win at 10 furlongs or dirt and turf.

This is easier to conceptualize with a tall and scopey horse like, say, Unbridled’s Song than it is with one that looks like he’s built for early speed, but there’s similarity between the two sires because both sired progeny that demonstrated early ability despite some immaturity but were kept on with, sometimes to bad effect. When trainers finally started to give the Unbridled’s Songs more time to mature later in his career, he got some of his best runners, and those did a lot to alter the earlier notion that he got a lot of brittle horses. These included champions Arrogate and Forever Unbridled, plus Grade l winners Cross Traffic and Liam’s Map, among others.

Likewise, Speightstown’s Grade l profile to date has been based on second-half 3-year-olds and older runners, irrespective of distance or surface, and it’s likely that he may have had more top-level winners earlier on if some of his more promising runners hadn’t been pushed as hard at two and early at three.

At any rate, here are Speightstown’s 15 Grade l winners with the time of their first win at the highest level:
Reynaldothewizard (2006) won the G1 Golden Shaheen at seven in 2013.
Haynesfield (2006) won the Gl Jockey Club Gold Cup at four in 2010.
Lord Shanakill (2006) won the G1 Prix Jean Prat at three (July) in 2009.
Jersey Town (2006) won the Gl Cigar Mile at four in 2010.
Mona de Momma (2006) won the Gl Humana Distaff at four in 2010.
Poseidon’s Warrior (2008) won the Gl Alfred G. Vanderbilt at four in 2012.
Golden Ticket (2009) won the Gl Travers at three (August) in 2012.
Dance to Bristol (2009) won the Gl Ballerina at four in 2013.
She’s Happy (Arg) (2009) won the G1 Estrellas Sprint at end of SH season at three.
Seek Again (2010) won the Gl Hollywood Derby at three (December) in 2013.
Lighthouse Bay (2010) won the Gl Prioress at three (July) in 2013.
Tamarkuz (2010) won the Gl BC Dirt Mile at six in 2016.
Rock Fall (2011) won the Gl Alfred G. Vanderbilt at four in 2015.
Force the Pass (2012) won the Gl Belmont Derby Invitational at three (July) in 2015.
Competitionofideas (2015) won the Gl American Oaks at three (December) in 2018.

The results are stark and have practical application.

At WTC, we’ve been a strong backer of Speightstown from the beginning and have recommended him without qualms all the way up to $100,000, as his record has always warranted the fee increases. In fact, this year I’ve personally booked two mares to the horse on behalf of a client and recommended him for eight other client mares. But about five years ago, we added a qualifier to our recommendations: don’t push too hard too early with the Speightstowns. Several clients have benefitted from this advice.

Speightstown is the type of horse that pedigree scholar Franco Varola might have labelled as “Trans-Brilliant”–that is, a fast or brilliant type that grafts well to stamina–which is something obvious in the horse’s ability to get 10-furlong Grade l winners like Haynesfield (from a Deputy Minister-line mare), Golden Ticket (from a Deputy Minister mare), Seek Again (from a Danehill mare from a Blushing Groom {Fr} mare), Force the Pass (from a Dynaformer mare), and Competitionofideas (from a Medaglia d’Oro mare). But quality sprinter/miler speed is his métier, and he consistently imparts it to his progeny, which makes him a popular sire for owners and breeders. And because his offspring are sound (with 80% runners from named foals, as noted earlier), win regularly, and get black type at above-average rates, he’s an elite sire–no questions whatsoever.

He’s just got an effect you need to be aware of.

Sid Fernando is president and CEO of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks.

Jaywalk Aiming for Davona Dale

Fri, 2019-01-11 15:26

D J Stable and Cash is King’s Jaywalk (Cross Traffic), the front-runner to earn an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly of 2018, is targeting the GII Davona Dale S. for her sophomore debut going one mile at Gulfstream Mar. 2.

The GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine and GI Frizette S. winner returned to the worktab with a four-furlong move in :50.80 (23/38) at Palm Meadows Jan. 11.

“She went a nice, easy half. It was perfect,” trainer John Servis said. “She galloped out super, so she didn’t lose much. Everything went very good.”

Servis continued, “The way she galloped out today, I’d say we’re right on schedule. She acts the same and looks the same. She maybe got a little bit taller but, other than that, she hasn’t changed much at all, to be honest with you. She put on a little bit of weight, which is good.”

Joining Jaywalk as Eclipse finalists are Bellafina (Quality Road), also a two-time Grade I winner who ran fourth in the Juvenile Fillies, and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Newspaperofrecord (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}), who went three-for-three in 2018 capped by a jaw-dropping victory in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The 48th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony will be held Jan. 24 in the Sport of Kings Theater at Gulfstream Park. Servis also trained GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S. winner Smarty Jones to the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old of 2004.

“We’re very excited about it,” Servis said. “I don’t know how much else she needed to do. She won at [four] at different racetracks, all at different distances, and she won two Grade Is. She had a pretty damn good year.”

Oxx, Prendergast Join Forces

Fri, 2019-01-11 12:27

Patrick Prendergast, who handled last year’s Cartier champion 2-year-old filly Skitter Scatter (Scat Daddy) for Anthony and Sonia Rogers, will not renew his training license this year and will instead move his string and staff to the yard of John Oxx, with the pair forming a training alliance in Oxx’s name. Oxx and Prendergast previously trained adjacent to one another on The Curragh, the 44-year-old Prendergast at Melitta Lodge, which he has grown out of, and the 68-year-old Oxx at Currabeg Stables, where he has executed the careers of the likes of Sea The Stars (Ire), Sinndar (Ire), Ridgewood Pearl (GB) and Azamour (Ire), but which has been quieter as of late.

“We feel the timing is good for both parties, we’ve got the space and Patrick has run out of it,” Oxx said. “I think Patrick would like a change in direction a bit. It suits us and it suits him, so hopefully it will work out well for both of us.

“Patrick doesn’t want to be the trainer and is happy to come and work for me. The yards are a few hundred yards apart as the crow flies, with a railway line in between, but we used the same gallops on The Curragh. The horses are moving to my place, they are not going to stay at Melitta Lodge; he won’t be training from there.

Of last year’s G1 Moyglare Stud, G2 Debutante and G3 Silver Flash S. winner Skitter Scatter, Oxx said, “It’s a good boost for us, he’s got some good horses. I haven’t seen Skitter Scatter yet and Patrick has said she’s small and he doesn’t know how much scope she has, but she’s been a very good filly already.”

Prendergast told The Irish Field it will be business as usual for Oxx’s new stable star.

“Very little will change for Skitter Scatter,” he said. “She will work on the same gallops she has always worked on, she will be ridden by the same jockey, Ronan Whelan. The only difference is that there will be an extra set of eyes on her. That those eyes belong to John Oxx is an obvious benefit.”

Record-Setting Keeneland January Sale Concludes

Thu, 2019-01-10 18:14

LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale–which surged passed its total 2018 gross after its third session Wednesday–concluded Thursday with its highest gross since 2008 and with a record-setting average and record-equaling median.

“This sale exceeded our expectations,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The desire of buyers to compete at the highest levels and their commitment to invest in breeding and racing stock continue to create the momentum that flows through these sales. It’s exciting for the entire industry.”

Champion Abel Tasman (Quality Road) was the star of the January sale and set the tone for the auction when bringing a final bid of $5 million–a sale record for a broodmare prospect–from Coolmore during Monday’s opening session. The auction featured five horses to sell for $500,000 or over, up from two in 2018.

“With Abel Tasman, obviously, we kind of anticipated that day one would be up from last year,” said Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “But if you take her out, it was still up considerably from last year. It’s just been a continuation of November.”

Russell continued, “We were very fortunate this year to have some very nice mares in the first two days that attracted [major buyers like] the WinStars, the Spendthrifts, the Summer Winds and all of those, even if you take away Abel Tasman. But then you add in Abel Tasman and she was the queen of the day.”

In all, 916 horses sold for $46,759,600–the sale’s highest gross since 1,493 head sold for $70,446,000 in 2008. The average of $51,048 was up 32.6% from last year and bested the previous sales record of $50,182 set in 1988. The median rose 66.67% from a year ago and, at $20,000, tied the sales record set in 2014.

During the 2018 January sale, 909 head sold for $34,996,000. The average was $38,499 and the median was $12,000. The broodmare Mrs McDougal (Medaglia d’Oro) brought the auction’s top price of $1.6 million and was one of two seven-figure lots at the auction.

The number of horses sold for $200,000 or more, which grew from 17 in 2017 to 28 last year, reached 47 in 2019 and the clearance rate for the auction improved from 74% last year to 78% this year.

“It’s a very good market at the moment, and the depth of quality in this January Sale catalog generated brisk trade well into the final day of the sale,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “In particular, we saw an exceptional group of yearlings and fillies off the track, led by Abel Tasman, whose sale created early energy. Credit goes to our consignors for bringing these outstanding individuals to market and for setting realistic reserves on their offerings.”

A competitive weanling market at the November sales led to strong demand for short yearlings at the January sale, according to Russell.

“On the short yearling side of it, I think the pinhookers did not fill their orders in November, so they had no choice but to come here in January,” Russell said. “We knew that back in November because they kept asking us what was in January.”

In 2019, 346 short yearlings sold for $13,950,600. The average was $40,320 and the median was $18,000. The top-selling short yearling at the auction was a colt by Union Rags who sold for $390,000 and was one of 39 sold for six figures.

In 2018, 353 short yearlings sold at the January sale for a total of $13,786,100. The average was $39,054 and the median was $13,000. A colt by American Pharoah was the top-priced yearling, selling for $1 million. He was followed by another son of the Triple Crown winner who sold for $400,000. Those two colts were among the 38 yearlings to sell for $100,000 or over.

“The yearling market through this whole sale has been very strong,” Hunter Valley Farm Manager Adrian Regan said. “We tried to buy plenty and got outbid a lot. When you bring up a nice foal, there is plenty of competition.”

For the sixth straight year, Taylor Made Sales Agency was the auction’s leading consignor by gross with 116 horses sold for $10,832,400 and an average of $93,383.

“We continue to see a trend where the very top of the market is healthy, and anything with quality–if there’s blue sky on the horizon that a mare or the foal she’s carrying can even have the possibility of being a six-figure horse–people really embrace that,” the agency’s Mark Taylor said. “When you get down to the ones in the bottom quarter to third of the market, you have to be very conservative with your reserves and you’ve got to know your product.”

Demand for quality offerings remained high throughout the auction, with six horses bringing six figures during Thursday’s finale, led by Doug Scharbauer’s purchase of the broodmare prospect Classy Tune (Maclean’s Music) for $230,000. In all, 11 head sold for $100,000 or more during the two-session Book 2. Two hit that mark in the same section in 2018.

Keeneland sold 451 head during Book 2 for a total of $7,902,300, an average of $17,522 and a median of $8,000. During Book 2 in 2018, 494 head sold for $6,694,000 for an average of $13,551 and a median of $6,500.

A daughter of Street Sense was the top-priced short yearling Thursday, selling to Reiley McDonald for $105,000.

“I think the market has been generally good at the top end–which it always is,” McDonald said. “I think the middle and lower end mares have been very difficult, but I think the foal market has been incredibly strong.”

Up next on the Keeneland sales calendar will be the April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale which returns in 2019 after a four-year hiatus.

“[Keeneland Director of Sales Development] Mark [Maronde] and [Keeneland relationship manager] Kyle [Wilson] will be going down to Ocala Monday to do the second run through there recruiting horses for the sale,” Russell said of preparations for the April sale. “The feedback has been very positive so far.”

The 2-year-old sale will be held Apr. 9, with an under-tack show Apr. 8.

Scharbauer Adds to Broodmare Band

Douglas Scharbauer is intent on improving the quality of his broodmare band and Valor Farm general manager Ken Carson has been busy shopping for the Texas owner at Keeneland this week. Carson made his biggest purchases of the sale Thursday to take home the session’s top two-priced broodmare prospects. Leading the way was Classy Tune (Maclean’s Music) (hip 1427), a multiple stakes placed 5-year-old mare, who sold for $230,000 from the Eaton Sales consignment.

“We are just improving our broodmare band and that was one of the ones that [Scharbauer] liked,” Carson said. “We’ll certainly be in Texas always. We stand stallions there and have a farm there. But we are going to increase our involvement up here [in Kentucky] because there really isn’t a great market in Texas right now. If that changes, we will change with it.”

Classy Tune, a $135,000 OBS April purchase in 2016, was third in last year’s C.E.R.F. S., as well as this year’s Mizdirection S. for TNIP, LLC and trainer Simon Callaghan.

“She is a gorgeous mare and she had real ability,” Eaton Sales’ Reiley McDonald said of Classy Tune. “She’ll make a lovely broodmare.”

Scharbauer purchased Valor Farm in Pilot Point, Texas, from the estate of his late father Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. in 2016. The farm stands nine stallions, including Congaree, Eagle, Grasshopper and Too Much Bling. Scharbauer’s Kentucky mares are boarded at Hidden Brook.

Earlier in the session, Carson went to $135,000 to acquire the unraced Rosalia (Orb) (hip 1278). The broodmare prospect was consigned by Mill Ridge Sales on behalf of Juddmonte Farms.

“She is a beautiful filly, just absolutely stunning,” Carson said of the filly.

Rosalia, purchased by Juddmonte for $450,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, is a daughter of multiple stakes winner Miss Atlantic City (Stormy Atlantic) and a half-sister to graded stakes placed Miss Southern Miss (More Than Ready). She is from the family of Grade I winner Cotton Blossom and multiple graded stakes placed Vicarage.

“She found a very good home with Doug Scharbauer,” Mill Ridge Sales’ Headley Bell said of the filly. “Obviously beauty still sells and she’s a very attractive filly and two people wanted her. We were not expecting that kind of money, but two people got together and they were determined.”

Also through Mill Ridge’s January consignment, Juddmonte sold Dissipate (Frankel {GB}) (hip 702) for $200,000 to Chad Schumer.

“We all know what Juddmonte is, it’s the cream of the cream,” Headley explained. “And [Rosalia] is a filly that, unfortunately, they tried to supplement to their program and she didn’t work out. And they move them on. Their culls are other people’s jewels, without question.”

Also this week on behalf of Scharbauer, Carson purchased Touch of Bling (Tale of the Cat) (hip 979) for $80,000 and Vinaka (Sky Mesa) (hip 195) for $45,000. In total, the Texan purchased seven head for $547,000 and an average of $78,143.

Of Scharbauer’s plans for his breeding operation, Carson said, “He doesn’t like to sell very much, but hopefully he’ll do both [race and sell].”

Juddmonte Runners Prove Popular Late

A pair of racing prospects from Juddmonte Farms proved popular late in Thursday’s Keeneland January finale, with bloodstock agent David Ingordo going to $140,000 to acquire Own Agenda (First Defence) (hip 1531). The 4-year-old has won two of eight starts in the Juddmonte colors for trainer Bill Mott, most recently finishing seventh in a Nov. 28 Aqueduct allowance.

“I’ve been waiting around for that horse,” Ingordo said after signing the ticket on the dark bay colt, who will be joining the Florida base of his wife, trainer Cherie DeVaux. “Garrett [O’Rourke] at Juddmonte had told me he was alright and Bill Mott had mentioned him to Cherie. I bought him for her and for some friends of ours. We’ll see what happens.”

The next horse through the ring was another Juddmonte racing prospect trained by Mott. The 4-year-old Westerland (GB) (Frankel {GB}) (hip 1539), most recently fifth in a Nov. 16 Churchill allowance, sold for $100,000 to Three Diamonds Farm.

Ingordo, who purchased future Eclipse champion Stellar Wind (Curlin) privately after a maiden win in 2014, agreed finding race-ready prospects was increasingly difficult.

“It is the hardest thing in our business to do right now, period, because the end-user, the people that want to win the big races, own them and there is not a lot of inventory out there of horses that you can buy,” he said. “My clients, they want to buy the horse and move it to their program. So for what we are trying to do, it’s very difficult. Someone will sell a piece, but they want it to stay with their trainer, with everything their way. But my client base, they have their own program, their own ideas. So finding the Stellar Winds in this day and age is hard to do. Finding something that can run is hard. We have babies, but you have to develop them. With something like this, he can go to the entry box sooner.”

Street Sense Filly a Pinhook Prospect

A filly by Street Sense (hip 1251) was first to break through the six-figure threshold during Thursday’s final session of the Keeneland January sale when bringing a final bid of $105,000 from Reiley McDonald as part of a pinhooking partnership.

“I thought she was a great physical with a really beautiful top line,” McDonald said of the short yearling. “She looks very racy.”

Bred by H & L Partners and consigned by Lane’s End, the bay is out of Peace Talk (Arch), a half-sister to multiple group placed Zaham (Silver Hawk). She followed her dam into the ring Thursday. In foal to Astern (Aus), the 9-year-old Peace Talk sold for $47,000 to Turkish owner Arif Kurtel. Kurtel was the most prolific buyer at the four-day January sale, purchasing 17 horses for $664,000 and an average of $39,059.

Derby Purse Raised to $3M, Turf Classic Reaches 7 Figures, Oaks Gets 25% Bump

Thu, 2019-01-10 13:33

Officials at Churchill Downs have announced that the purse for this year’s 145th running of the GI Kentucky Derby has been raised from $2 million to a guaranteed $3 million, making it the second-richest Derby in the world. The Derby winner will receive a $1.86-million payday in addition to the gold trophy. The runner-up receives $600,000, with $300,000 to third, $150,000 to the fourth home and $90,000 to the fifth-place finisher. The Derby purse was $1 million from 1996-2004 before being raised.

Citing strong early returns from state-of-the-art historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s $65-million facility that opened last September, officials also announced that the purse for the GI Old Forester Turf Classic would be doubled to $1 million, while the GI Kentucky Oaks will see its purse raised by a quarter-million dollars to $1.25 million. The Oaks was a $500,000 until its purse was doubled in 2011.

“Our recent investment into historical racing machines is paying immediate dividends to Kentucky horsemen,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “It’s extremely gratifying to meaningfully raise the purse of the iconic Kentucky Derby and other important racing fixtures on our stakes schedule as we continue to advance the overall racing program at Churchill Downs. Our steady growth in available prize money is truly exciting for the Kentucky horse racing and breeding industry.”

The Derby and Oaks anchor a 34-race stakes program worth a record-setting $12.03 million. More than $30 million in purse money is expected to be distributed during this year’s spring meet. In the spring of 2018, Churchill offered 32 stakes races worth $8.4 million. Total purses paid over the course of the 372-race meet were $22.2 million.

A total of 15 races will receive purse hikes for 2019, including the GI Humana Distaff ($300,000 to $500,000), while the $600,000 GII Stephen Foster S. is one of four races to be increased by $100,000. The others, each worth $400,000, are the GII Longines Distaff Turf Mile, the GII American Turf and GIII Pat Day Mile.

The Churchill Downs S., recently accorded Grade I status, will carry purse money of $500,000, as will the GI La Troienne S. on the Oaks undercard.

In other changes to the schedule, the Foster, GIII Mint Julep S. and GIII Louisville S. will no longer be run under handicap conditions.

Cathal Beale Talks Industry Issues

Thu, 2019-01-10 11:29

With a full-service Thoroughbred nursery, stallion roster, student program and racing club to oversee, Irish National Stud Chief Executive Officer Cathal Beale has a lot on his plate. He also has an opportunity to see the Thoroughbred business from numerous perspectives, and the TDN‘s Kelsey Riley caught up with him at Keeneland’s January sale in Lexington, Kentucky this week to talk about some hot-topic industry issues.

KR: What brings you to Kentucky this week?

CB: I’m here trying to source some new stock for the Irish National Stud, trying to find some nice mares to support our stallions, and it’s always good to get out to meet people and let people know we’re here.

We’ve purchased two mares for the stud: we got lot 130 [for $60,000], she is a stakes-placed winner at two and in foal to California Chrome, so that’s quite exciting. We got another mare for $20,000 [lot 308] and we’re very happy with her; she’s a half-sister to some stakes horses and nicely bred in foal to a good stallion in Dialed In. It’ll be interesting to see how the market receives those yearlings in a couple years in Europe.

KR: Your flagship stallion is of course Invincible Spirit. How is his 2019 book coming together?

CB: He’s nearly completed. He’ll be limited again to in and around 100 mares for longevity, to try to keep him going for as long as we possibly can, but we’re delighted with his book. He had such a fantastic year last year with three Group 1 winners, two of those being 2-year-olds, and 19 stakes winners. It was a fabulous year for him on the track so people will continue to support him.

Limiting the book is something we do in particular with him because of his age [22]. We don’t want to over face him at this stage of his career but he’s been remarkably fertile and we want to keep him that way. We haven’t covered Southern Hemisphere and we just try to get him to peak in the four months of the season when we really need him, and the other eight months are his own time. It’s the decision we made to cover no more than two mares per day with him to give him every chance. Last year his fertility was exceptional again so it’s great that he can keep going.

KR: Two others you have on the roster are Decorated Knight and Free Eagle, who were both very top-class middle distance runners. Both have been featured as TDN value sires in recent weeks, but support of breeders hasn’t exactly been strong; Decorated Knight covered 66 mares last year, and Free Eagle 58. Is it concerning that these types of sires are struggling to get a chance?

CB: I think it’s part of the bigger picture. You have to take a step back to look at the entire model. The biggest problem [the Thoroughbred industry] faces is we’re in a very competitive market for people to be interested in what we do. There are new sports coming along all the time and sports that are reinventing themselves. MMA [Mixed Martial Arts] didn’t exist 10 years ago, in Europe certainly, and now it’s a big sport. So there’s such competition to be relevant and stay on the pages of the daily newspapers.

Ultimately as an industry, we have to unite under the banner that we have to make ourselves as relevant as possible to Joe Public. In doing that, we have to make the return on investment attractive for people coming into the game. We know it’s attractive in terms of fun, but we need to make sure it’s attractive from a monetary sense as well, or as attractive as we can possibly make it. What we have to do is pull everybody together and face in the same direction and make the case to those who pull the purse strings.

If we do that, that then has the knock-on effect of making racehorses more attractive than just something you have to sell as a foal. Breeders are at the pin of their collar at the moment because they’re trying to breed to sell a foal because that’s where the incentive is for them, to sell as a foal, rather than retain the horse themselves and race it, which has been the model for the past 200 years. So they’re choosing what you might deem faster [sires], six or seven furlong horses, for that result. So until we can incentivise breeders to retain their fillies or actually try to race the stock themselves, until we get to the point where it’s affordable for breeders to be able to do that, we’re going to see a fall-off on those sorts of middle distance horses, I think.

Having said that, the markets that are opening up for flat racing especially are global. And the majority of these markets are looking for 10-furlong horses. Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and all of these emerging Eastern markets are looking for the 10-furlong horse. I think over the next two or three years there might be a migration back towards that sort of horse, and I certainly hope there is because ultimately the Thoroughbred is about the piece of wood at Epsom, as Tesio said. I think that’s the ultimate thing we’re trying to breed so I think if we can get back to that, that’s a positive thing.

KR: When you announced your 2019 stud fees, you said you were lowering a number of them to “reflect the current market sentiment.” Can you expand upon that?

CB: It’s no secret that breeders are under pressure, and certainly commercial breeders have had a tough year. We’ve been listening to people in the barns as we go around and we felt we had to respond to that. We’re in the business of trying to give people a chance to make money on our stallions, because that’s why they come back the following year. It’s a business decision as much as anything else and it’s the right decision in this climate, where breeders are really struggling at the foal sales, particularly this year, to make end’s meet. I felt we had to respond to that by dropping the fees on what we might call our middle-market stallions. We reduced Free Eagle, Decorated Knight, Dragon Pulse, National Defense, Gale Force Ten, and we maintained Invincible Spirit. That was a conscious decision we wanted to make.

KR: You’ve already alluded to the polarisation at last year’s breeding stock sales, and it was probably at an unprecedented level. How do you think this worrying trend can be corrected, and is there a way to stimulate spending at lower levels of the market?

CB: It comes back to that big picture thing. Everybody keeps beating on about prize money and I think that’s logical, but it’s not just prize money: the bigger thing is the return on investment. Prize money is the biggest return you can get but there’s also a big return if you can get a good horse and sell it to a foreign market. You add that up on the plus side, and then you have the costs on the negative side. The VAT increase is an issue in Ireland now; it’s gone up to 13.5%. It seems from a breeder’s perspective that the costs keep creeping up and the prize money keeps-while everyone is doing their best efforts to push it forward, the return on investment of the whole package together really needs to be more competitive. Other markets like Australia in particular have done a great job making conscious decisions to increase return on investment by increasing prizemoney, and we in Europe have to respond to that and make ourselves as competitive as possible for new entrants to enter the market. A new entrant will come and take a look and they’ll want to see what the economic return is on their investment. It’s really important for us to make sure that is as attractive as we can possibly make it. We need to put forward a very clear case to government, or whoever is in charge of making those decisions, that investment in our industry is going to return three, four, five, six times what they put into it in terms of jobs, exchequer returns-we need to stress the fact that we’re extremely good at this in Europe. In Ireland, England, France, Germany, Italy, in particular, we have the land, the people to do these things. It’s an investment worth making for government and it’s up to us to keep making sure we make that case, that it’s not a handout we’re looking for-it’s an investment. Investing in our industry is going to return massively to government and it’s getting that case and making that point. Everything filters down from that. With the issues that are out there at the moment-breeders are struggling, people are struggling to find staff; trainers, if they have more prize money to aim at, can then make more money and pay their staff more. It trickles down; it’s a filter system from the very top and it’s about getting that funding system correct and attractive as possible. Everything else filters down from that.

KR: Are there industry stakeholders making that case to government?

CB: Absolutely. It’s something we have to keep doing and keep trying to improve upon. It’s really about making sure that the case is being made and being made so they can understand what we’re doing. It’s important for us to put it in layman’s terms, to say, for every Euro you put in, here’s what the return on the investment is. And it’s extremely significant. I can only talk about Ireland on this, but there are 30,000 jobs directly and indirectly as a result of horse racing, and if they continue to invest more, there will be more jobs and there will be greater returns to the exchequer if companies are making profits and they’re getting taxed on those profits. If we can convince them of the benefits of that, everything else flows back.

KR: Brexit is a massive concern at the moment too, but we don’t yet have much of an idea of how it will affect our business. Are you seeing any affects of potential repercussions in any parts of your business?

CB: I think people are always inclined to be cautious when there’s uncertainty, but having said that we need to just keep going. There are no prizes for sitting on your laurels and not doing anything, so it’s business as usual to a degree and continuing to push forward and hoping they come up with a solution. There’s a significant amount of work going on behind the scenes in terms of getting the HHH [high health horse] protocol [maintained post-Brexit], and that is absolutely vital not just for the Irish industry but the English and French industries as well. Being able to bring our horses and people across the borders without checks is vital. There is a lot of work going on in Europe at the moment to make that case and get that deal over the line, and that’s a vital piece of legislation to come. Without that we’re probably in a bit of trouble, but I’m cautiously optimistic we can get that done, which will alleviate most of the fears we have with Brexit.

KR: You’re now about a year and a half into your role as CEO of the Irish National Stud. How is it going so far?

CB: It’s just the most fantastic opportunity because no day is the same. We have a stallion business to run, a boarding business, a consignment business, we’re selling our own stock, we have a lot of clients, but we also have an education piece, and a tourism piece. It’s incumbent on us to be at the forefront of explaining these things to government and to allow people an opportunity to get as close to a horse as they actually can, whatever level they’re at. Whether that’s as a tourist that’s paying €12 to get into the stud and see a horse and they may never have seen a horse in their lives before, or whether that’s somebody who has a keen interest in racing, to set up a racing club like we have will allow them to come in and participate in some really nice horses to take them not just to the big days but the small days; get them to every racetrack across the country if we can over the course of the next couple of years with INS racing.

There are various levels, and we try to pitch an option to somebody at every level. That’s the tourism for €12, the INS Racing for €399 or the mares syndicate for €16,000 for a share, or nominations from €1,000 to €120,000; to try to pitch something there at every level so people can take the next step, whatever that may be, and have a good experience and nearly through osmosis learn a bit more about racing and maybe set off a little spark in someone that they want to come back. What we’re really here to do is get people closer and get people a little more involved in racing.

KR: You mentioned the Irish National Stud’s Breeding Course, and you yourself as well as many others in top positions in the industry worldwide came through that course. The course must be something the Irish National Stud is quite proud of?

CB: It’s another way of getting people further along the road in whatever they’re doing. We have 30 students coming in this year and it’s been running for 48 years. I’ve met so many guys here in Kentucky this week who did the course and came out here 20, 30, 40 years ago. It’s still so highly regarded among them and they continue to send people back to us. They’ll suggest someone go to the National Stud and do the course, so we’re excited the 30 are starting next Monday for our 48th year. It’s the oldest and biggest network of people in the bloodstock industry so we’re very proud of it.

Solid Market Continues On at Keeneland January

Wed, 2019-01-09 18:11

LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale opened its Book 2 section with a solid, workmanlike session Wednesday in Lexington. Five horses sold for six figures during the session, led by a pair of mares who fetched matching $125,000 final bids. Charles Fipke’s C F Farms was first to hit that session-topping mark when acquiring the unraced Oh Mrs. G (Offlee Wild), in foal to Practical Joke, from the Elite Sales consignment. SF Bloodstock and Newgate Farm paid that same amount for the racing or broodmare prospect Stallion Heiress (Exchange Rate) from the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment. The pinhooking partnership Fish Bloodstock, led by Brian Graves, purchased the day’s highest-priced short yearling when going to $120,000 for a son of Midnight Lute.

In all, 238 horses sold Wednesday for $4,074,300. The average was $17,119 and the median was $8,000. Of the 380 horses catalogued for the session, 290 were offered and 52 were reported not sold for a buy-back rate of 17.93%. It was 20.27% in the third session a year ago when 236 head sold for $3,442,700. The 2018 session average was $14,588 and the median was $7,750. The top price of $145,000 was one of two six-figure offerings on the day.

The January sale opened with a strong two-session Book 1 and Elite’s Liz Crow said buyers were still out shopping as the four-day auction moved into Book 2.

“There seems to be really good foot traffic [at the sales barns],” Crow said. “I wish there was a little more of the middle market around. I think a lot of people feel that way. But a lot of people are still looking for quality. They want the really good ones and the horses that are left in the middle, a lot of them aren’t finding new homes.”

Taylor Made Sales Agency sold three of the session’s six-figure lots and was the day’s leading consignor with 66 sold for a total of $1,399,400 and an average of $21,203.

“The market has been really good,” the agency’s Mark Taylor said. “The bottom end is still treacherous, but for anything that has a hint of quality, there are multiple bids above the reserve and they are selling really well. It’s what we saw all last year, but there is still strength for anything with quality.”

The Keeneland January sale concludes Thursday with a final session beginning at 10 a.m.

Oh Mrs. G to C F Farms

Oh Mrs. G (Offlee Wild) (hip 874) topped early returns during Wednesday’s third session of the Keeneland January sale when Tom Thornbury signed the ticket at $125,000 on behalf of Charles Fipke’s C F Farms. The unraced 8-year-old mare was in foal to Practical Joke and was consigned by Elite Sales. Out of Mrs. Marcos (Private Account), she is a half-sister to Grade I winner Zoftig (Cozzene), dam of Grade I winners Zo Impressive (Hard Spun) and Zaftig (Gone West). Zoftig also produced the dam of Fipke’s Grade I-placed homebreds Verve’s Tale (Tale of Ekati) and Tale of Verve (Tale of Ekati).

“She has a huge page and I think people were looking for quality and there wasn’t a lot out there, so she kind of stuck out in the catalogue,” Elite’s Liz Crow said of the mare’s appeal. “She was a nice physical. She was a very pretty mare. Everyone who pulled her out liked her physical.”

The mare’s covering stallion was another selling point, according to Crow. During last year’s Keeneland November sale, 21 mares sold in foal to first-season sire Practical Joke (Into Mischief) for an average of $97,143. The three-time Grade I winner stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud for $30,000.

“This mare stuck out because she had such a great page and she is in foal to a hot new sire,” Crow said. “She’s by a good broodmare sire and she’s pretty. So she ticked a lot of the boxes for people who are still out looking for quality horses.”

Bred by Lemons Mill Farm, Oh Mrs. G was purchased by Stuart Grant’s The Elkstone Group for $39,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October Sale. The Elkstone Group bred a filly by Declaration of War out of her in 2017 and a filly by Sky Mesa in 2018.

SF Snares Stallion Heiress

Multiple stakes-winning Stallion Heiress (Exchange Rate) (hip 948) will be joining the broodmare band aof SF Bloodstock and Newgate Farm after selling for $125,000 Wednesday at Keeneland. The 5-year-old racing or broodmare prospect is out of Menocino Beano (Smart Strike) and is a half-sister to stakes-placed Conquest Fleetfeet (Afleet Alex). She was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.

“She is a lovely physical and she was obviously a very fast filly on the track,” said SF Bloodstock’s Caroline Wilson. “I think she’ll be great for our program.”

Bred in Ontario by Sean Fitzhenry, Stallion Heiress was puchased by Stallionville Enterprises for $100,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. She opened her racing career with three straight wins, including a pair of stakes scores at Fair Grounds in 2017, and was tabbed a ‘TDN Rising Star’. Nathan McCauley purchased the filly for $100,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale and she made one start for Premier Racing Club.

Midnight Lute Colt a Pinhooking Prospect

A colt by Midnight Lute (hip 953) is destined for a return trip through the sales ring later this year after selling to pinhooker Brian Graves for $120,000 Wednesday at Keeneland. Consigned by Taylor Made, the short yearling is out of Lightscameraaction (Will Take Charge), third in the 2018 GII Pocahontas S. He was bred by George Saufley, Pollock Farms, Hugh Owen and Taylor Brothers Properties.

“He was a leggy colt with a long neck and a really good mover,” said Graves, who bid while seated alongside Davant Latham and Phil Hager. “It was probably a little bit more than we would have liked to pay for a Midnight Lute, but the horse had a good year this year and he can get a very good racehorse. I guess, my argument is that, when you lead a quality horse up by a stallion who is proven to get good racehorses, people will believe. We’ll probably bring him back here in September and see how we did.”

Of a competitive yearling market this week in Lexington, Graves added, “It’s been extremely tough. It forces you into buying Midnight Lutes for $120,000.”

Graves and company signed the ticket on hip 953 as Fish Bloodstock and that was also the name on the ticket securing hip 883, a daughter of Midnight Lute, for $90,000 Wednesday.

Stop the Lights, who made only one racetrack appearance, is a daughter of multiple Grade I winner of Stop Traffic (Cure the Blues) and is a half-sister to Grade I winner Cross Traffic (Unbridled’s Song). She sold, with the Midnight Lute colt in utero, for $10,000 at the 2018 Keeneland January sale. She preceded her yearling into the sales ring Wednesday, selling in foal to Mshawish for $43,000 to Chad Schumer.

“We bought her for some customers who own a share in Mshawish,” Taylor Made’s Mark Taylor said of purchasing Stop the Lights last January. “They were looking for a nice mare to get underneath him–they were looking specifically for a Storm Cat mare to breed to Msawish–and this is the one they landed on. Fortunately enough, Lightscameraaction jumped up and Cross Traffic had a big Breeders’ Cup winner. So the mare brought $43,000 and the baby brought $120,000.”

Taylor Made stands Mshawish (Medgalia d’Oro) and a short yearling from the first crop of the multiple Grade I winner consigned by the farm was first to bring six figures Wednesday when The Legend Stables bid $100,000 for hip 812.

“I think they are not complicated,” Taylor said of his early impressions of Mshawish’s offspring. “They are very square, balanced and correct with good bone. They look like racehorses. They are not the flashiest horses, typically, just solid bay. They are a lot like him.”

Mshawish, who stands for $10,000, won the 2014 G2 Zabeel Mile, 2015 GI Gulfstream Park Turf H. and 2016 GI Donn H. He concluded his racing career with a sixth-place effort behind California Chrome in the 2016 G1 Dubai World Cup.

“I think people don’t really remember how good a racehorse he was,” Taylor said. “He won two Grade Is over here, dirt and turf, won a Group 2 in Dubai. We bought into him before the World Cup and he ran an unbelievable race. I didn’t like the ride he got. [Frankie] Dettori had never ridden him before and put him on the lead. I think if they had ridden him more to his style, he would have run second to Chrome. But he was a serious, serious racehorse. We are very bullish on him and think he’s got a big chance.”

 

Under the Radar: Hard Spun

Wed, 2019-01-09 17:53

In this series, we ask agents and others who book a lot of mares for their clients which sires might be flying slightly under the radar in this breeding season. Who might be getting overlooked in the rush for the new, hot thing? Read on.

Marette Farrell: HARD SPUN, Darley America, $40,000

Straightaway, I’d say Hard Spun. He’s a phenomenal stallion and gets you a real runner. At the end of the day, we all get caught up in the whole sales thing, and he can get you a proper racehorse, and a sales horse, plus he’s an emerging top-class broodmare sire. How can you overlook a horse like that at $40,000?

We are always trying to anticipate which stallions are currently quiet and which ones are about to take off. I think Hard Spun is in this spot right now. His first crop since he came back from Japan have just turned three and he is poised to kick right into gear now that they are going to get the chance to go two turns, be it turf or dirt. In my opinion he is real value. Dave Anderson of Anderson Farms who I work with, had a filly of his sell for $950,000 (at Keeneland September 2018). That’s right there at the top of the tree, and you don’t have to pay $300,000 for a stud fee. For me, the versatility of that and the consistency of a stallion like that is hugely important. If you have a young mare from a good family that you think might have the tools to be a producer, Hard Spun can be a solid foundation sire to get her up and running. So, Hard Spun; a) because he’ll help make a mare, b) because you’ll have a chance at a racehorse and c) because you’ll have opportunity for a good sale horse.

Click for more about Hard Spun.

Op/Ed: Racing Roulette, A Good Idea And Why It Will Never Work

Wed, 2019-01-09 15:00

As expected, Santa Anita’s attempt to simulate the casino game roulette as part of its wagering menu has not exactly been a roaring success. Track officials were not able to provide the TDN with exact handle figures on the bet, but it appears that the usual pools are somewhere between $1,500 to $3,000 per race.

On a busy night and if any big players have wandered over to one of the wheels, they might handle that much on a single spin of the wheel at any Las Vegas strip casino.

That tells you everything you need to know about why casino gambling is so much more successful than betting on horse racing. It will always come down to the price the two forms of gambling charge the customer, or the takeout.

The takeout rate on Santa Anita’s roulette bet is the same as it is on win, place and show bets–15.43%. By law, that’s the lowest amount they can charge. The retention, or takeout rate, on a Vegas roulette wheel is 5.26%. If a casino ever decided to play around with the roulette wheel to create a 15.43% take, no one would play the game. No one.

When it comes down to why racing lags behind virtually every other gambling game offered in this country, the answer is always the same–the competitors have a huge advantage because the price of making a casino, slots or sports bet is much lower than the price of making a bet on a horse. If the gas station on one side of the street charges $2.49 a gallon and the one on the other side charges $2.85, which gas station do you think is going to get the most business?

A roulette-based horse racing wager can never succeed with a 15.43% takeout. Yes, it was created to appeal to people who might be at the track for the first time and are confused by the pari-mutuel process. Anyone can understand roulette. A few small players and newbies might play it for fun, and, perhaps, it’s worth keeping around for that reason alone.

But no serious handicapper is going to go near a bet where the value is so poor. If $3,000 is bet on racing roulette, $2,537 is returned to the winners. Over the long-term, with a real roulette game that handles $3,000, $2,845 is paid back. That’s quite a difference.

The shame of this is that racing roulette, if it could be done properly, is actually an excellent idea.

In any race where there are six or more horses, they are grouped into three categories, red, black and green. The better horses are supposed to wind up in the red group, which would then make that bet the heavy favorite. The black group is supposed to consist of a slightly less attractive group of horses and the greens are supposed to be the longest shots on the board. That way there’s something for the chalk player, the guy looking to cash a $5 or $6 bet and the person hoping to nail a longshot with the green.

Not only could this be a good bet to introduce newcomers to the sport, but, if the takeout weren’t so ridiculously high, it could really catch on. Unlike with real roulette, you can use your brain and handicapping savvy to find good plays. The red could be 3-5, but if the group includes the 8-5 favorite, the 2-1 second choice and a 6-1 shot you might conclude that it is a great bet and a good value. There’s also no reason why it can’t be expanded to include exactas and trifectas. You could play a red-red-green tri or a red-black straight exacta. It would be something different. Most new gimmicks racing has introduced are bound to fail from the start and have a short shelf life, but this is one that could really catch on–if not for the takeout.

The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, is behind the new bet and it is to be commended for trying something different.

“This sport has to try new things and we can’t be afraid,” said TSG Chief Operating Officer Tim Ritvo. “I have thick skin. I’m not afraid to be laughed at.”

One of the reasons Ritvo has risen to such a prominent role in racing is that he, perhaps more so than any other racing executive, understands and appreciates the betting customer. He knows the takeout on the bet is too high and that it is a serious impediment to its success.

When asked if he would be an advocate of dropping the takeout on the racing roulette bet, he replied, “I’m open to everything.”

The problem is, The Stronach Group cannot lower the takeout on its own. It first needs the approval of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, and that’s not going to happen.

“I don’t believe this is designed to be a major percentage of the total handle,” said Greg Avioli, the TOC’s president and CEO. “From my perspective, it’s more for the introductory experience. I welcome the innovation from Tim Ritvo and his team for trying things like this. The definition of innovation is failure. You have to try a bunch of things and some won’t work and some day you will land on something that will.”

While Avioli likes the bet, he likes it at 15.43%. His worry is that if the take on racing roulette were lowered to the 5% neighborhood, people would abandon the traditional win, place and show pools and put that money instead into the roulette bet. If so, that could mean less revenue for everyone.

“If we’re going to lower it to 5%, then you would likely see a cannibalization of the win pool,” he said. “What you’re really asking is do we want to lower the win, place, show takeout for the mature better? That’s pretty much what would happen. If you had a 10% differential in takeout, I think a lot of people would go with the 5% versus the 15%.”

He’s not wrong. But here’s the problem: betting on horse racing has dropped dramatically over the last 10 years or so. A total of $14.725 billion was bet on the sport as recently as 2007. In 2017, that figure had dropped to $10.909 billion. Without even accounting for inflation that’s a 26% decline. And now racing is facing a new threat, and it could be a calamitous one. With sports betting about to be legal throughout much of the country and available on the internet, racing will be facing a new competitor that has the potential to do serious damage to the sport.

Ritvo is right. The answer is not to sit back and do nothing, but to try bold ideas.

So why not do this? Lower the takeout on racing roulette to 5.26%, but just on an experimental basis. If Avioli is right, and he very well could be, and the result is less revenue because the traditional win, place and show pools drop, then cease the experiment and raise the takeout back to its old level. But this is a clever and intriguing bet and it’s something that could really take off. The slice of the pie will be lower, but how big might the pie be if bettors flock to what would be the best bargain that has ever been offered in racing? Isn’t it worth finding out?

Or we could just keep thinking inside the box and getting nowhere. Let’s add another Pick 5 to the betting menu and offer $1 hot dogs on Thursdays. That will change everything.

 

MJC Announces New Stakes Incentives

Wed, 2019-01-09 14:38

The Maryland Jockey Club will waive entry and starting fees for any Grade I winner of the past 12 months if they run in any MJC stakes race other than the GI Preakness S., it was announced Wednesday. Additionally, any Grade II winner who contests either the Bald Eagle Derby or Laurel Futurity–both scheduled for Sept. 21–will have their fees waved. “As Maryland racing continues to grow we’re hoping this incentive will strengthen our stakes schedule and help us build some stakes to the graded level,” said Maryland Jockey Club Racing Secretary Chris Merz.

Market Remains Strong at Keeneland January

Tue, 2019-01-08 20:11

Bidding remained competitive throughout the day as the Book 1 portion of the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale concluded Tuesday in Lexington. David Hanley of WinStar Farm made the highest bid of the day when going to $750,000 to acquire multiple graded stakes winner House Rules (Distorted Humor) from the Blackwood Stables consignment as part of the J. V. Shields’s dispersal.

“I thought today’s session was quite strong all the way through,” Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell said at the close of business Tuesday. “It was a continuation of yesterday, with the short yearlings selling exceptionally well and the mares stepped up to the plate, too.”

Through the first two sessions of the four-day auction, Keeneland sold 465 horses for a total of $38,857,300. The average was $83,564 and the median was $37,000. Nineteen horses sold for $300,000 or more during Book 1, up from 14 during the 2018 Book 1.

During Book 1 at the 2018 auction, 415 horses sold for $28,302,000. The average was $68,198 and the median was $37,000. Two horses sold for seven figures in the book, led by the $1.6-million Mrs McDougal (Medaglia d’Oro).

While Tuesday’s second session of the January auction lacked the fireworks provided by Monday’s $5-million sale of champion Abel Tasman (Quality Road), competition for young, well-covered mares remained high.

“Obviously, we didn’t have an Abel Tasman today, but the mares that were here sold very well,” Russell said. “House Rules, in foal to Quality Road, is the complete package–a graded stakes winner in foal to one of the hottest stallions in the world. I thought she was very well sold at that price and she goes to a good home in WinStar. We’re sorry for the circumstances for the sale. Mr. Shields was a good friend.”

After signing the ticket on Tuesday’s session topper, Hanley admitted, “For the mares you want, it’s tough. There aren’t that many of them and they all are landing on the same ones. But she’s the one we wanted to get today. So we’re really happy.”

Tuesday’s buy-back rate was 21.68%, bringing the two-day figure to 25.60%. It was 32.41% at the same point last year.

Russell credited the high clearance rate on consignors setting realistic reserves.

“These are very professional people,” he said of the sellers. “They have a good gauge on the market, they know what sells. The market is bringing the prices. So I would throw the credit back to the consignors who have adjusted to the market and have priced their horses correctly.”

Quality continued to be key in the selective marketplace, according to bloodstock agent David Ingordo.

“People want quality and if you have quality, you are going to get rewarded,” Ingordo said. “There are nice horses right below that that, if you give up this or that, you get good value. There are some horses that just aren’t worth it and that is reflected in their sales price. If you are honest with yourself about what your horse is worth, you will do fine.”

The Keeneland January sale continues through Thursday with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

WinStar Makes the House Rules

WinStar Farm General Manager David Hanley struck late in Tuesday’s second session of the Keeneland January sale to acquire multiple graded stakes winner House Rules (Distorted Humor) (hip 779) for a session-topping $750,000. The 8-year-old mare, in foal to Quality Road, was consigned by Blackwood Stables as agent for the dispersal of the bloodstock of the late J V Shields, Jr.

“First of all, Distorted Humor,” Hanley answered when asked about the mare’s appeal. “She has a ton of quality. She’s a really beautiful mare and was obviously a really top runner. And we loved the cover. We are excited to see the Quality Road out of her, we think that’s a great mating for her. We’ve been waiting for her all day and we’re delighted to get her.”

House Rules, co-bred by WinStar and El Catorce Inc., was purchased for $90,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling in 2012. She won the 2015 GIII Top Flight H. and GIII Rampart S. in Shields’s colors. Out of Grade I placed Teamgeist (Arg) (Mutakddim), House Rules is a half-sister to Grade I placed Win the Space (Pulpit).

Longtime owner and breeder Shields passed away last October. During his time in racing, Shields served as Director of the New York Racing Association, Director of the Breeders’ Cup, Trustee of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and Trustee of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was a founding member of the National Thoroughbred Association and a member of The Jockey Club.

Blackwood Stables sold five horses on behalf of the phase 1 of the Shields’ dispersal Tuesday at Keeneland. In addition to House Rules, the dispersal also included multiple graded stakes winner Classic Point (Flatter) (hip 672), who sold for $370,000 to Catherine Parke on behalf of Marc Keller and graded stakes placed Full House (Discreetly Mine) (hip 739), who brought a final bid of $240,000 from Atlantic Bloodstock.

“It is a very bittersweet moment, but we are glad the market appreciated all of Jerry Shields’s horses,” said Katey Caddel, director of client relations and bloodstock for Blackwood Stables. “He was an avid supporter of the sport and truly loved this game and that is reflected in his horses. We are proud to sell them here, but obviously it’s a bittersweet moment.” @JessMartiniTDN

Three Chimneys Holds Out For the ‘Best’

Though Three Chimneys Farm was the underbidder on a few horses earlier in the sale, the historic operation held out for one they really wanted with the farm’s COO Chris Baker fending off all comers late in Tuesday’s session to take home GISP Best Performance (Broken Vow) for $560,000.

“She is by a stallion we have a lot of respect for,” said a smiling Baker after signing the ticket on hip 795A. “She is very good looking and she can run. In this day and age, if you like them, or like that many things about them, you have to stretch to get them. We are happy to have her.”

As for future plans, he said, “We will breed her in 2019. We don’t know to who yet.”

A $185,000 KEESEP buy turned $300,000 FTFMAR juvenile purchase, Best Performance retired with a record of 10-1-5-0 and earnings of $398,448. Campaigned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Tango Uniform Racing and Robert Masiello, the Christophe Clement trainee completed the exacta in five black-type events during her 2017 juvenile campaign, including the GIII Schuylerville S. on the dirt, and in the GIII Miss Grillo S. and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on that surface. The chestnut made her final start in November.

“I think if you look at the stakes placings she had, in the Breeders’ Cup, a Grade I, as a 2-year-old, it is probably more ability–even though it didn’t show up on the catalogue page–for us, that she had Grade I class,” Baker said.”

Out of the Smart Strike mare Give My Regards, Best Performance is a half to SP My California (Calimonco) and hails from the family of GSW Broadway Empire (Empire Maker). She was consigned by Lane’s End, who was the session’s leading consignor by gross receipts, with 22 horses selling for $2,429,000–an average of $110,409.

West Point Thoroughbreds was also represented by SW Lavender Chrissie (Scat Daddy), who sold to David Ingordo on behalf of Montia Holdings LLC for $400,000 carrying her first foal by Union Rags. @CDeBernardisTDN

Media Mischief to Springhouse Farm

Media Mischief (Into Mischief) (hip 440) will be joining the broodmare band at Springhouse Farm after Gabriel Duignan signed the ticket at $450,000 to acquire the 5-year-old mare in foal to Pioneerof the Nile.

“She is a nice mare with a nice page,” Duignan said of the mare, who was consigned by Eaton Sales. “There is a lot to like about her.”

Out of Media Nox (GB), Media Mischief is a half-sister to multiple Group 1 winner Nebraska Tornado (Storm Cat) and group winners Burning Sun (Danzig) and Mirabilis (Lear Fan).

Bred by Juddmonte Farms, Media Mischief made two starts in Khalid Abdullah’s colors in 2017 before selling for 250,000gns to Mercer Bloodstock at the Tattersalls December sale. In foal to Pioneerof the Nile, she RNA’d for $475,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

The pedigree has been active in the U.S. recently. Media Nox’s daughter Imprecation (First Defence) is the dam of 3-year-old Anothertwistafate (Scat Daddy), who has impressed in a pair of wins at Golden Gate Fields and is expected to head towards the Feb. 16 El Camino Real Derby.

Duignan acknowledged that colt’s Northern California exploits added to Media Mischief’s appeal.

“He could be very good,” Duignan said of Anothertwistafate. “I know it’s Golden Gate, but he could be very, very good. He’s not your ordinary Golden Gate horse.” @JessMartiniTDN

‘Sweet’ Buy for Hyde

Breeder Tim Hyde added one of Tuesday’s more popular mares to his band when going to $420,000 to secure Sweet Dreams (Candy Ride {Arg}), who was the only mare in foal to Tapit offered at Keeneland January.

“I thought she was very pretty,” Hyde said of hip 568. “Her foal was very nice that was here in November. She is a good-looking mare and she is carrying a Tapit. We will probably resell the baby as a yearling.”

Bred by Courtlandt Farm, Sweet Dreams is out of SW & GSP Cat Charmer (Storm Cat) and is a half-sister to MGSW Strike Charmer (Smart Strike). Gail Cox purchased the dark bay for $67,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September Sale and she won one of three starts.

Sweet Dreams RNA’d for $220,000 at Keeneland November in 2015 carrying a foal by Animal Kingdom. The resulting foal, a filly named Bentley’s Dream was a $65,000 KEENOV weanling turned $325,000 FTSAUG yearling and she won on debut for Lothenbach Stables at Churchill Downs in November. Sweet Dreams was purchased by McMahon and Hill Bloodstock on behalf of Buscar Stable for $180,000 at the 2016 KEENOV sale in foal to Street Sense and that colt brought $210,000 from Japanese interests at the following year’s November sale. That operation sold her 2018 Tapit colt this past November to Alex Solis and Jason Litt for $380,000.

“She was a standout as the only mare in foal to Tapit,” said Sergio de Sousa of Hidden Brook, who consigned the mare.

“Her broodmare career got started off on a good note with her first foal winning first time out. Mission accomplished for us. Well done to the owners and good luck to the new connections.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Ingordo Strikes for Lavender Chrissie

Stakes winner Lavender Chrissie (Scat Daddy) (hip 410) got things rolling early in Tuesday’s session when selling for $400,000 to bloodstock agent David Ingordo, who was acting on behalf of a longtime client. Consigned by Lane’s End, the 7-year-old mare sold in foal to Union Rags.

“She was a lovely yearling,” Ingordo said after signing the ticket out back. “We knew her from a yearling. She is in foal to Union Rags. Scat Daddy needs no introduction. He is going to be a super broodmare sire. She was, on physical, as pretty of a mare as was going to walk up here.”

He continued, “This client is going to build a commercial racing/broodmare band. He knows I work at Lane’s End and he knew the mare was there, so he said if you like her, buy her. She will probably go to one of our stallions at Lane’s End.”

A $185,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by West Point Thoroughbreds, Lavender Chrissie won four of her eight starts for trainer Dale Romans, highlighted by a victory in the 2015 Zia Park Oaks. She RNA’d for $290,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton November Sale, after which she was put back in training. The gray made just one more start in April of 2017 before being officially retired with earnings of $281,093.

A full-sister to MGSP Gossamer Wings, Lavender Chrissie is a half-sister to GSW Baby J (J Be K) and SW & GISP Laureate Conductor (Bernstein). @CDeBernardisTDN

Union Rags Colt Proves Popular at KEEJAN

A yearling colt by Union Rags (hip 621) was a hot commodity at Keeneland January Tuesday and ultimately sold to Gerry Dilger for $390,000.

Bred by Kinnickinnic Stables, the bay is the first foal out of Zondaq (Bernardini), a half-sister to GSW & GISP Discreet Dancer (Discreet Cat); GSW Travelin Man (Trippi); and SW & GSP Sweet N Discreet (Discreet Cat). Zondaq, a $425,000 KEESEP yearling, was purchased by New Providence Bloodstock for $190,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton February Sale and made two starts for Mike Ryan and trainer Rudy Rodriguez before retiring in the fall of 2016. The colt was consigned here by Indian Creek.

“He was really well received,” said Indian Creek’s Shack Parrish. “It was a little bit above what we expected, but we loved it. Credit should go, I must say, to our former farm manager, who left on the 31st and did the majority of the prep on this guy.”

Indian Creek sold another pricey short yearling later in the sale in hip 795F, a colt by Kitten’s Joy out of Illegal Search (Officer), who summoned $250,000 from Dudley Racing. The bay was bred by Susan King in partnership with Ken and Sarah Ramsey. @CDeBernardisTDN

McMahon Gets Happy

Bloodstock agent Mike McMahon wasn’t able to acquire a weanling from the first crop of Runhappy at the November sales, but he rectified that Tuesday at Keeneland when purchasing a son of the sprint champion for $250,000.

“Runhappy is really a sire that we wanted to buy a colt by and this was the best colt here,” McMahon said. “He stacked up really high with the colts we tried to buy in November. We’ve been after a Runhappy for a while.”

Hip 560 is out of multiple stakes winner Summer Cruise (Vicar) and is a half-brother to graded stakes winner Sandbar (War Pass) and stakes placed Cruzette (War Pass). He was bred by Matthew Ernst and Martha Buckner and was consigned by her family’s Clarkland Farm.

Clarkland purchased Summer Cruise, in foal to Lea, for $100,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. Her filly by Lea sold for $110,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November sale and resold for $150,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale.

Runhappy had 14 weanlings sell at the Keeneland November sale for an average of $149,643 and a median of $145,000. The stallion stands at Claiborne Farm for $25,000.

Asked what has impressed about the champion’s first crop of foals, McMahon said, “They have lots of quality. They are forward horses, bright and good-shaped. They have great hind legs and conformation.”

Hip 560 is likely destined for a return engagement in the sales ring later in the year.

“He’ll pinhook,” McMahon said. “Probably at [Fasig-Tipton] Saratoga, but not necessarily. It could be Keeneland, too. We’ll just play it by ear and see how he develops. He’ll get every chance.” @JessMartiniTDN

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