NEWS: breeding

Top NY freshman sire Laoban relocates to WinStar

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Grade 2 winner Laoban, New York’s leading freshman sire in 2020, will relocated to WinStar Farm for 2021. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Laoban, far and away this year’s New York’s leading freshman sire and fifth on the North American first-crop list, will relocate from Sequel Stallions in Hudson to stand the 2021 season at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky.

WinStar will offer a limited number of seasons to the 7-year-old son of Uncle Mo at $25,000 stands and nurses until the Breeders’ Cup, when the fee is subject to change pending the outcomes of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Laoban is expected to be represented in the Juvenile Fillies by Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes winner Simply Ravishing and in the Juvenile by Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Keepmeinmind.

Laoban, who stood the 2020 season for $5,000 at Sequel, sired five winners and the earners of $615,400 through Monday. In addition to his rankings on the freshman sire lists, Laoban ranks eighth on New York’s general sire list through Monday.

“My phone lit up before the filly crossed the wire at Keeneland,” Sequel Stallions’ Becky Thomas said of Simply Ravishing, who improved to 3-for-3 with a 6 1/4-length romp in the Keeneland fall meet’s traditional opening day feature. “In the following days, we were overwhelmed with calls from all of the very top stallion farms in Kentucky.

“Laoban is stamping his foals and proving to be a cookie-cutter of the Uncle Mo style of stretch and athleticism. Since receiving the foals from New York, they certainly looked the part, but once we started training them at Winding Oaks, I knew that he was going to be something special. Talking with other horsemen in Ocala who were training his first crop of 2-year-olds and seeing them perform consistently, he was the buzz horse all season. Then, for him to become the first New York stallion to sire a Grade 1 winner in his first crop is absolutely incredible. It is truly a humbling experience to be a part of what is becoming such an important young stallion. WinStar is a great fit for him and he is sure to get a wide variety of nice mares coming from all their partnerships and support. We couldn’t be more excited about his future.”

Laoban has fared well at the sales the last two years, with 33 yearlings from his first crop selling for an average of $27,530 in 2019 before 17 sold for an average of $33,684 in 2020. Laoban’s 2-year-olds did even better in 2020 with 27 selling for an average of $40,841, including a colt out of the Henny Hughes mare One Look named Uno who brought $255,000 from bloodstock agent Steve Young at the OBS June sale.

A $260,000 yearling himself at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, Laoban defeated Belmont Stakes and Arkansas Derby winner Creator and multiple graded stakes winners Mohaymen and Destin winning the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes in 2016 at Saratoga Race Course. Laoban also placed in the Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 3 Sham during his 3-year-old season before retiring with a record of 1-2-1 from nine starts and $526,250 in earnings for owners Southern Equine Stable and McCormick Racing and trainer Eric Guillot.

Bred by Respite Farm, Laoban is out of the stakes-placed Speightstown mare Chattertown, a three-quarter sister to multiple Grade 1 winner and $2,354,454-earner I’m a Chatterbox.

“I have tremendous respect for Becky and her Sequel operation,” said Elliott Walden, WinStar’s president, CEO and racing manager. “We are excited to partner with her and the original shareholders and we are appreciative of the efforts of Siena, Taylor Made and Breeze Easy in bringing Laoban to Kentucky. Laoban is a beautiful son of Uncle Mo who might have three horses in the Breeders’ Cup and we believe Uncle Mo is an important sire line for the next generation.”

Longtime New York owner-breeder Oakleigh Thorne passes away

Friday, October 16th, 2020

Oakleigh Thorne.

Oakleigh B. Thorne, a successful businessman, sportsman and philanthropist known for his quick wit and irreverent personality, died at the age of 88 last week at his home in Millbrook, N.Y.

He was best known in business circles for his stewardship of the Thorne family holding company, CT Corporation, in New York City through the 1960s and ‘70s and ultimately merging that company into its largest holding, Commerce Clearing House Inc., (CCH, Inc.) in 1976.

Shortly after the merger the family faced losing control of the company, as they were forced to sell stock to pay the tax on Mr. Thorne’s father’s estate. Mr. Thorne employed the then-novel tactic of using the company’s cash to buy in large chunks of CCH stock to pay the tax and retain control.

In 1980, Mr. Thorne retired to the family’s estate, Thorndale, in Millbrook, though he remained chairman of the board of CCH until the family sold the company to Wolters Kluwer in 1996.

In Dutchess County he was best known for the philanthropy of the Millbrook Tribute Garden Inc., and his participation on the boards of numerous local non-profit organizations.

The Millbrook Tribute Garden was founded by his great grandfather and great grandmother in 1943 to own and support a local park honoring area citizens that served in World War I and World War II. Under Mr. Thorne’s 38-year tenure as its president it expanded its mandate and gave tens of millions of dollars to local charities, schools, colleges, hospitals and municipalities.

The local boards on which Mr. Thorne served included the Dutchess Land Conservancy (where he was a founding member), the Dutchess Day School (where he served 10 years as chairman of the board), the Millbrook School, the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies and Nine Partners Cemetery.

Though born to privilege, Mr. Thorne was quick to dispense with pretense, and quick to share his amusing observations and mischievous grin with all comers.

He was born in Santa Barbara, Ca., in 1932, the first child of Oakleigh L. Thorne and Bertha Palmer Thorne. His father was a descendant of an old New York family that had financial success in the leather and publishing businesses, and his mother a descendant of the prominent Palmer family of Chicago.

As a youth the family moved frequently, including stops in Chicago, Bedford, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., as Mr. Thorne’s father went to work for the family business and then entered the U.S. Navy in the lead-up to World War II.

The family settled in Santa Barbara, Ca., during the war while Mr. Thorne’s father served in the Pacific theater and he attended the Midlands School in Los Olivos, Ca.

He graduated from St. Marks School, in Southborough, Ma., in 1950 (where he later served on the board), and went on to Harvard University, where he majored in economics and graduated in 1956, after serving in the United States Army in South Korea from 1953-1955.

Mr. Thorne often claimed that his proudest collegiate accomplishment was in 1952 when he and his roommate attempted to break a world record established by a pair of Russians who slapped each other every 10 seconds for 72 hours. Though the pair did not beat the Russian record, they did receive quite a bit of media notoriety for the attempt.

After retiring to Millbrook, Mr. Thorne pursued numerous avocations, including breeding Thoroughbred racehorses, wine making and polo, among others.

In 1980, he established Eaton-Thorne, a Thoroughbred breeding operation with Lee Eaton, a well-known Thoroughbred agent from Lexington, Ky., a partnership that produced numerous stakes caliber horses including New York-bred champions Notebook and Mckaymackenna.

He also took up polo in the mid-1980s, establishing the Thorndale polo team with Alex “Zulu” Scott-Barnes and co-founding the Millbrook Polo Club (now the Mashomack Polo Club). The Thorndale team travelled the country competing, and spent regular seasons in Millbrook, Wellington, Fl., and Sheridan, Wy.,

Mr. Thorne was an avid fly fisherman, and some of his happiest times were spent casting into the waters of the Big Horn River in search of trout or the flats of the Turks and Caicos Islands where he pursued the elusive bonefish, which he aptly named “The Grey Ghost.” He also served on the board of Trout Unlimited, an organization that enlisted fly fishing enthusiasts in the cause of conservation.

Always up for an adventure, he enjoyed traveling the far reaches of the globe with friends and family on fishing, biking, hiking, boating and riding excursions.

On a more local level, Mr. Thorne was an avid beagler and supporter of the Millbrook Hunt (foxhounds). He served as Joint Master of the Sandanona Harehounds from 1963 – 2012, where he also served as huntsman, and served as president of the Millbrook Hunt for 35 years.

He also belonged to numerous clubs, including The Racquet and Tennis Club (of New York) where he served as president for five years in the late 1970s, The Brook, The Meridian Club (in the Turks and Caicos, where he also served as president), The Mashomack Fish and Game Preserve Club, The Millbrook Golf and Tennis Club, The Fly Fishers of Brooklyn, The New York Farmers, The Tamarack Preserve Club, The Gulfstream Polo Club and The Jockey Club.

Besides CCH, Inc., Mr. Thorne served on numerous corporate boards including the Bank of Millbrook, the Fiduciary Trust Company, Palmer First National Bank and the Nine Mile Land and Cattle Co. of Ft. Smith, Mt.

Mr. Thorne is survived by his wife of 50 years, Felicitas Selter Thorne, of Millbrook; two sons by a prior marriage, Oakleigh (Jacqueline Stahl), of Millbrook; and Henry Fleming (Karen Warcholak), of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and two children with Felicitas, Jonathan (Jennifer Kennedy), of Millbrook; and Eliza (Michael Barnello), of Sharon, Ct. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren.

He was predeceased by a sister, Honore Thorne Wamsler, of Pöcking, Germany; and is survived by a sister, Charlotte Thorne Bordeaux, of Bar Harbor, Me., and a half-brother, Daniel Kempner Thorne, of Pitchcombe, Gloucestershire, England.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be given to the Thorne Building Community Center, PO Box 1087, Millbrook, N.Y., 12545, or The Dutchess Land Conservancy, PO Box 138, Millbrook, N.Y., 12545.

War Dancer sires 1-2 in Spa maiden for first winner

Friday, September 4th, 2020

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Irish Hill and Dutchess Views Stallions’ War Dancer registered his first winner in a big way Friday on the Saratoga Showcase Day card at Saratoga Race Course when New York-bred Step Dancer led home the exacta for his sire in the fourth race.

Breaking from the rail in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, Step Dancer was happy to settle near last as Bustin Bieber set the pace a few lengths in front of the field.  Step Dancer still had work to do into the stretch with all but one other runner left to pass if he had any hopes of winning. Swung to the outside by Dylan Davis, the Barclay Tagg-trained colt was piloted to the middle of the track and set to the task of chasing down the leading Pivotal Run.

Step Dancer blew past Pivotal Run, also a son of War Dancer, in the final sixteenth and kept on going to win by 3 ½ lengths. Pivotal Run held second, a length in front of Arrowheart.

Bred by Sugar Plum Farm and Richard Pressman, Step Dancer races for Haywood Pressman and Diamond M Stables.

He is the first foal out of the winning English Channel mare Just Be Steppin, whose dam is a half-sister to Group 1-placed stakes producing mare Khassah and two other stakes runners with Just Be Steppin a great-granddaughter of Grade 1 winner Castilla.

The winner of the Grade 2 Virginia Derby at three and the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at four with another stakes win at six and a second to Twilight Eclipse in the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes, War Dancer is the only son of War Front standing in New York.

The stallion has proved to be popular with more than 250 mares bred in his first three books, according to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares bred.



Multiple NY-bred Champion Perfect Arc Dies at Age 28

Friday, August 28th, 2020

By Reg Lansberry

Perfect Arc, a Grade-1 winner and multiple graded stakes winner and New York-bred champion, died on August 26 at the place of her birth, owner-breeder Frank Stella’s Delehanty Stock Farm in Amenia, New York. The daughter of Brown Arc, a son of 1977 and 1978 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victor Alleged, was 28.

Recalling the finest horse he has bred and raced in more than four decades in the Empire State, Stella said he “Bred Perfect Arc on a whim,” due to “a mad set of circumstances.” Those circumstances resulted in his standing her sire at Delehanty for one season. Brown Arc was a full brother to 1988 Prix du Jockey-Club (Fr-G1) (French Derby) winner Hours After.

Perfect Arc was foaled March 7, 1992, out of the Argentine mare Podeica (Petronisi-Indian Order, by Ovid), co-owned by Stella and the late Paul K. Sorren (Brazil Stable). Podeica won the 1987 Polla de Potrancas (Arg-G1) (Argentine One Thousand Guineas), defeating 1998 Racing Hall of Fame inductee Bayakoa (Arg).  Podeica was a winner in allowance company in the U.S. when an injury forced her retirement.

Trained by Angel Penna, Jr., and co-owned and raced by Stella and Sorren, Perfect Arc competed from ages two through four. She was retired after her four-year-old season with ten victories in 13 career starts (six of them stakes wins) and purse earnings of $668,230. Her finest season came at age three in 1995 when she compiled a perfect 7-for-7 record, all on turf. With John Velazquez in the irons, Perfect Arc captured the 1995 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1) at Keeneland Race Course, defeating Auriette (Ire) by two lengths on good turf in 1:49 4/5. She also triumphed in the Rare Perfume Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park and Diana Handicap (G3) at Saratoga Race Course.

Perfect Arc’s glittering campaign resulted in multiple honors including 1995 New York-bred Horse of the Year, champion three-year-old filly, and champion turf female.

In 1996, Perfect Arc won two of four starts, all on turf. She added another graded stakes victory to her resume by taking down the Noble Damsel Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park and finished second to champion Possibly Perfect in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) at Arlington International Racecourse. She was named 1996 N.Y. champion turf female at year’s end.

Retired to Delehanty to begin her career as a broodmare, Perfect Arc produced three winners from seven runners. Prominently, she is the granddam of seven-year-old mare Starship Jubilee (Indy Wind—Perfectly Wild, by Forest Wildcat), a Grade-1 winner, reigning Horse of the Year in Canada and that country’s three-time champion turf female (2017-1019). To date, Starship Jubilee has earned in excess of $1.6 million. All eight of Perfectly Wild’s runners to date have been winners.

Perfect Arc was buried at the farm.

Central Baker continues rise for McMahons

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

Newly Minted, winner of the Union Avenue Aug. 13, played big part in strong run for her sire Central Banker this month. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

If you were in Saratoga earlier this month, you’d be forgiven for thinking McMahon Of Saratoga Thoroughbreds was throwing a weeklong party. McMahon of Saratoga’s third-crop sire Central Banker gave them plenty to celebrate when he not only had five winners in a week at Saratoga with but 10 winners overall through the first three weeks of August.

For Joe McMahon Central Banker’s success goes outside even the importance to the stallion because it also lets people see the strength of the New York breeding program.

“(The New York breeding program is) important because all these horses race at the NYRA tracks and the NYRA tracks are probably the most bet on and watched races in the country,” McMahon said. “Certainly, when you see a horse like Central Banker have five winners at Saratoga last week alone, that gets him attention. It’s very good for people to see that New York has good stallions and their offspring are running very, very well on the best circuit in the world. That encourages other people to be involved in New York.”

Currently at the top of the New York general sires list and eighth on the national third-crop list, Central Banker is having a summer most only dream of. His first two crops gave him two stakes winners in five days last week and three stakes horses in 15 days.

Zipalong started his sire’s August stakes run with a third in the Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Series Aug. 6. That placing was followed by Central Banker’s five-winner week at Saratoga, headlined by champion New York-bred Newly Minted earning her fourth career stakes victory in the Union Avenue Handicap Aug. 13.

Then showing that Central Banker is in demand all over the country, Doc’s Holiday was his latest stakes winner Aug. 18 in Colorado’s CTBA Derby at Arapahoe.

Central Banker’s rise to becoming a successful sire was set in motion almost from the time he stepped off the van at McMahon of Saratoga. A fast dirt horse, John McMahon said the support he’s received from the beginning has been strong and steady.

“Central Banker had great credentials entering his stallion career so that parlayed into a very good first-year book,” he said. “Immediately following, attractive weanlings sold for very good money, which helped, then yearling and 2-year-old sale results followed by race success. So, his support from breeders has been excellent from the very first day he started his stud career.”

While it wouldn’t have been a surprise if Central Banker’s stud fee had risen after the performances of his first few crops, for the McMahons it’s been important for the stallion to stay affordable for breeders. They’ve been rewarded for that loyalty with Central Banker never having less than 75 mares during his five seasons at stud.

“It’s important that he’s good value, we didn’t raise his stud fee,” Joe McMahon said. “We’ve kept him very affordable to breeders in New York with the added incentive that they get twice as much award because they’re New York-sired and they’re eligible for the New York Stallion Series. It’s a value play for a lot of people.

“Rather than send a mare to Kentucky and breed to a $7,500 horse there or a $10,000 horse there and get half the awards and not be eligible for the stallion stakes, this horse gives you as good a horse as you’re going to get in Kentucky for $10,000 to $15,000 plus the breeders awards are twice as high and you’re eligible for the stallion stakes – which are about $3 million in value.”

A stallion who is often lauded by trainers for his trainable and durable runners, for the McMahons it’s important that Central Banker stay in New York not only for his own success but for breeders in the state.

“He’s a good stallion and good stallions can stand anywhere, but we choose to keep him here because New York needs a good stallion like that,” Joe McMahon said. “If he can continue to get 100 mares a year, that’s good business for our farm.”

Bluewater’s Levy relishes strong run with NY-breds

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

Bowling Green winner Cross Border (right) was part of magical weekend for Bluewater’s Meg Levy. Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

What do a weanling, a lay-up and a $500 mare have to with a top weekend at the races? For Meg Levy they led to an unforgettable 72-hour stretch at Saratoga last weekend with New York-breds.

The biggest personal win came Sunday when Levy-bred Simply Ravishing won on debut for trainer Ken McPeek and owners Harold Lerner, Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stables. Bred on a stallion right her husband owns in Laoban, the New York-bred filly was also sold by Bluewater Sales for $50,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale.

The victory was a fitting next chapter in the story of Simply Ravishing’s dam Four Wishes, who had been abandoned at a boarding facility and purchased for just $500 by Levy on her birthday in 2017.

“It was on my birthday in February and we were driving over to the Fasig-Tipton February sale,” Levy said. “Someone called me and said ‘there’s a mare by More Than Ready that is in a bad place, she’s been abandoned and the boarding farm is just trying to sell her for whatever they can get.’ I asked what her name was and they said ‘Four Wishes’ and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, how can I resist stopping by to see a mare named Four Wishes on my birthday?’ I arrived and she was pretty thin and something just told me that she deserved a better place so I gave the guy $500 and we picked her up.”

Feeling that being in the New York-bred program would help both the mare and her foal, Four Wishes was shipped up to New York to foal out a Revolutionary colt and be bred to Laoban.

“I have felt that the weanlings and the yearlings in the last few years being New York-bred has made them 20 percent more valuable so that was the decision,” she said. “She came out with a great looking baby that we got lucky with. (Simply Ravishing) was supposed to go to the New York-bred sale in Saratoga and when the staff went to load her on the van, she kicked the wall so hard she cracked her foot so she couldn’t ship and had to go to the October sale.

“It was great that Kenny was around to buy her because where they go is obviously very important. We were pleasantly surprised. Kenny had been sending us some videos over the last couple of the days before the race and I thought to myself ‘he isn’t sending videos because he doesn’t like her.’ ”

Simply Ravishing’s victory was the final touch on a strong weekend of racing in Saratoga for Levy connected horses.

The winning started Friday when New York-bred Jewel of Arabia won her second straight start impressively. Sold by Levy’s Bluewater Sales for $140,000 as a weanling on behalf of breeder SF Bloodstock at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, Levy still remembers the filly handling everything beautifully.

“We sold her as a foal and she was awesome,” Levy said. “SF Bloodstock bred her and the market was strong, it was Daredevil’s first year. She was so attractive and strong, we sold her for $180,000. She was such a strong filly, great, very intelligent. She was pretty special, it was fun to see her win.”

Only 24 hours later, another horse connected to Levy visited the winner’s circle when New York-bred Cross Border won the Grade 2 Bowling Green for his second victory in 10 days. Owned by Bluewater client Three Diamonds Farm, Cross Border spent time laying up at the Levys’ Kentucky farm and eased some of the pain of having to watch the races from home.

“It’s at those moments that you feel so amazingly grateful,” she said. “We were sitting here watching the races here in Kentucky on the television and we had our friends win with Cross Border and he was a lay-up here as well. It’s just fun to be rooting for horses that you’ve been around. Whoever they’re owned or bred by, when you can claim to have touched a hair on that body it’s really, really exciting and that’s kind of what we do it for.”

Based in Lexington, Ky. Levy admits she hasn’t had many New York-bred foals but that hasn’t kept her from admiring the program from afar. Simply Ravishing also provided her an exciting first as the first she’s bred by a New York stallion. Levy was even more impressed by the program once she saw the additional awards given to New York-sired horses.

“Every time I have bred a New York-bred, we’ve had some great luck,” she said. “I’ve never had a New York-sired New York-bred before and when I read what the breeders’ reward is, I was like ‘holy moly.’

“You actually get 30 percent of what they win! The first time I had a New York-bred I couldn’t believe I got a check in the mail immediately. She was a mare called Pronto Pronto that had several babies and I just couldn’t believe it. You go to the mailbox and there’s a check for like $5,000. It’s unbelievable, truly. We’ve had great luck in New York and we love New York and our people there.”

Laoban sires first New York-bred winner

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Simply Ravishing rolls in debut to become first NY-bred winner for Laoban. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Simply Ravishing followed her sire’s lead Sunday, breaking her maiden at Saratoga Race Course to become Laoban’s first New York-bred winner.

While Simply Ravishing’s win came in an actual maiden race instead of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes like her sire, she showed a similar running style when racing second most of the way in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. Simply Ravishing proved a little green in the lane but with Luis Saez keeping her focused took over the lead at the top of the stretch. Saez stayed busy on the filly and she scored by a length over favorite Mrs Frankel in 1:44.76.

Simply Ravishing is the second winner for Laoban from eight runners, with half those runners placed in the top three in at least one of their starts. The filly is a third generation Saratoga winner, following the lead of her sire with grandsire Uncle Mo also winning on debut at this track in 2010.

Saratoga success runs on both sides of her family with damsire More Than Ready winning both his starts at Saratoga – including the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes.

Standing at Sequel New York, Laoban finished in the top three in four of his nine starts with a pair of placings on the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby trail when third in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park and second in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

Laoban retired later that year with $526,250 in earnings and bred 122 mares in 2017 with 80 live foals according to The Jockey Club’s Live Foal Report. The stallion bred 91 mares in 2018 and 72 last year.

Bred in New York by Meg Levy, Simply Ravishing is the second foal for Four Wishes, who was purchased as a yearling for $28,000. Nearly doubling her dam’s purchase price, Simply Ravishing sold for $50,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale.

Added success for Fresco’s breeder Waterville Lake Stable

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

Fresco, winner of last week’s Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series, is latest success for Waterville Lake Stable. Susie Raisher/NYRA

By Joe Clancy

When Dick Leahy and partner John Meriwether jumped into Thoroughbred racing, their Waterville Lake Stable bought 20 yearlings – and soon decided that was not the right business model.

“We had 16 colts and four fillies and after a couple years we asked ourselves, ‘What are we doing?’ If you have a well-bred colt that can’t run very fast, his value is close to zero,” Leahy said. “A filly that is well-bred that can run a little, you have some equity. You don’t have the home run, the stallion prospect, but you stay around for a longer period.”

So they thought a bit more long term, and changed strategies – a plan that lined up with Leahy’s profession in the investment world. He co-founded Episteme Capital, a global investment manager.

“What I do (for work) is quantitative and fundamental, both,” he said Thursday. “I think of racing and breeding as having some similarities where you’re digging into the data and not just making intuitive decisions but trying to look at as many pieces of data as you can.”

The result has meant racing and breeding success for Waterville Lake (Leahy and partners) and Oak Bluff Stable (Leahy, solo). They’ve bred or owned such New York-bred luminaries as Sea Foam, Therapist, Audible, Hessonite, Strike It Rich, Miss Valentine, Mariensky, Akilina and a $775,000 yearling of 2019 named Brattle House among others.

Add last week’s Statue of Liberty winner Fresco to the portfolio.

Owned by Oak Bluff, and trained by Christophe Clement, the 3-year-old filly lived up to her 1-2 odds with a score in the $100,000 Statue of Liberty Stakes – a division of the New York Stallion Series. The daughter of Freud came into the race a maiden, but that did little to discourage anyone from touting her quality off three prior starts – a third and a fourth in open company at Gulfstream Park and a second against New York-breds at Belmont Park in June.

“They were pretty salty races she was in, I was pleased every time she ran,” said Leahy. “Her last race (a nose defeat) I think she did hang, at least to me it seemed like she did. I even talked about it with Christophe. In training, I always wonder if we’re teaching some horses to stay with the other horse too much. Some horses want to put their heads in front. Others might not. They might think they’re being trained to stay with the other horse all the time. I’m not a trainer, so I don’t know . . . she ran away from them this time so maybe some just take a little longer to learn about it.”

There was no hanging Thursday. Fresco sat fifth of six early for Irad Ortiz Jr., angled outside off the turn and ran past Dixie Cannon to win by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:45.43 for 1 1/16 miles on the inner course. Nick Scissors was third.

A full-sister to $534,345 earner Therapist, Fresco is out of Lady Renaissance. The daughter of Smart Strike raced for Waterville Lake and Clement in 2006 and 2007 before being bred and offered for sale in 2009. Leahy paid $15,000 for her. Her first three foals to race (by Bernstein, War Front and Gio Ponti) won two races combined. The next, Therapist, picked up the slack with eight wins (seven stakes) including the open-company First Defence at Belmont June 7.

“She never won a stakes and only ran in one, but she had stakes caliber numbers and her career was cut a little short so we didn’t get there,” Leahy said of Lady Renaissance. “I just thought she looked pretty interesting and bought her. The program in New York is very attractive, Freud was there, he’s a full-brother to Giant’s Causeway and I thought that was an interesting match. We got Therapist.”

And now Fresco. The dark bay was part of a fast start to the meet for Clement, who won with nine of his first 21 starters to take a narrow lead in the standings. To Leahy, the success is much-deserved, as Clement has long been a key part of the breeder’s success. And the Clement barn was rocked by the death of 10 horses in a van accident on the New Jersey Turnpike June 7. The tractor trailer was on its way to New York from Florida when it struck a concrete divider and caught fire.

Waterville Lake runner Apogee died in the fire, and Leahy won’t forget the phone call from Clement afterward.

“When he called me he was in tears, and it wasn’t because he was concerned about my reaction,” the owner said. “It’s one thing to be the owner/breeder but you don’t live with them day in and day out. They’re like children to them. On that day, Therapist won the open stakes which was pretty exciting for me, yet it just didn’t have the same excitement that it otherwise would have had.

“Having success has hopefully been a little bit of a distraction from the devastation. I’m happy for him and everyone in the barn.”

Effinity rolls for Effinex’s first winner

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Zilla Racing’s Effinity rolls in second start to give the late sire Effinex his first winner. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Zilla Racing Stable’s Effinity improved off a runner-up effort in his debut to break his maiden Sunday at Saratoga Race Course and provide his late sire with his first winner.

Effinity, a son of Grade 1 winner and 2015 New York-bred Horse of the Year Effinex, won the second race, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for state-breds on the main track. Trained by Brad Cox, Effinity won by 4 lengths in 1:06.36.

He’s a member of the lone crop sired by Effinex, who stood his lone season at Questroyal North in New York and relocated to McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in the latter half of the year. He died in October 2017 due to a ruptured pulmonary artery.

Effinex bred 110 mares in his lone season and was the sire of 41 live foals according to statistics from The Jockey Club’s Live Foal Report.

Bred in New York by Dr. Russell Cohen and raced by his Tri-Bone Stables, Effinex won nine of 28 starts with three seconds and four thirds and earned $3,312,950 over three seasons.

Effinex won stakes at 3, 4 and 5 – the Empire Classic Handicap in 2014, Grade 3 Excelsior, Grade 2 Suburban and Grade 1 Clark in 2015, and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and a second edition of Suburban in 2016. He also finished second to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.

Bred in New York by Barry Ostrager, Effinity was foaled at Ostrager’s Questroyal North in Stillwater. Effinity is out of the Freud mare Letshootpool, who is also the dam of a yearling filly by Majestic City and a weanling colt by Majestic City. She was bred to Courageous Cat in 2020.

Tiz the Law to Stand at Ashford Stud Upon Retirement

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Credit Nancy Rokos

Courtesy of

Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tiz The Law will stand at Coolmore America’s Ashford Stud upon his retirement, it was announced June 25. The son of Constitution  will continue to run for owners Sackatoga Stable throughout his racing career.

“Tiz The Law is the outstanding colt of his generation so we are obviously delighted he’ll be coming here,” said Coolmore America manager Dermot Ryan. “From day one when he broke his maiden at Saratoga, we have been watching him closely, and he has everything one looks for in a stallion prospect. We are grateful to Jack Knowlton and his partners in Sackatoga Stable for letting us be a part of such an exciting horse, and also to (trainer) Barclay Tagg, Robin Smullen, and their team who have done a tremendous job with him. He’s a grade 1-winning juvenile and is now a classic winner. Combined with his near perfect race record, he’s very good-looking and is a very well-bred individual.”

Constitution was second only to American Pharoah  on the freshman sire table last year and leads the way in 2020, while Tiz The Law’s dam Tizfiz was the winner of seven races, including the 2008 San Gorgonio Handicap (G2) carrying top weight of 118 pounds.

Bred in New York by Twin Creeks Farm, Tiz the Law was a $110,000 purchase by Knowlton from Sequel New York’s consignment to Fasig-Tipton’s New York-Bred Yearling Sale in 2018. He broke his maiden at first asking Aug. 8 at Saratoga Race Course and went on to race exclusively in graded stakes company, with a victory in the Oct. 5 Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park next out. His lone loss, a third in the Nov. 30 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, was followed by a three-race win streak: the Feb. 1 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and the March 28 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, and the June 20 Belmont Stakes in his most recent start.

Sackatoga Stable plans for Tiz the Law to run in the Aug. 8 Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes (G1) en route to the Nov. 7 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland.

“Tiz The Law is such a pleasure to be around. He impresses me every day with how easy he does everything; nothing is out of reach for him,” Tagg said of the grade 1 winner at 2 and classic winner at 3. “I have been training horses for such a long time, and I have never had a horse like him. He makes my life very easy. We are looking forward to running him in the Travers then on to the Derby and Preakness. He has achieved so much already and is a very exciting horse for the future, I wouldn’t change him for the world.”

“Sackatoga Stable is pleased that Tiz The Law will stand at Coolmore America’s Ashford Stud,” said Knowlton, operating manager of Sackatoga Stables. “It is an honor that he will become a part of the world’s largest breeding operation of Thoroughbred racehorses. We are excited to see what Tiz The Law has in store on the track for the remainder of his 3-year-old year and beyond, and then look forward to his career as a stallion at Ashford.”