Sep 27, 2008


While we were slugging it out at the Keeneland Sale a number of our previous success stories were on display.

Hyperbaric became a stakes winner –having already placed in a Grade I-during the Del Mar meeting. We bought her dam for a measly $l9,000 while in foal to the solid sire Diesis. Owner Jack Chamblin took my suggestion and bred the mare back to Sky Classic, one of the best values in town, especially for a racing stable. “Hyperbaric is the best horse I have ever bred”, said the former University of Illinois footballer.

Again, common sense, a good memory and connections made up the winning formula.
Teasing Charm was a solid stakes-winner from the John Franks Farm family of Grade I winner Heatherten. The latter was in fact Franks’ first Grade I winner and she liked it enough to win four of them.

Heatherten’s half-brother Bull In The Heather (Ferdinand) also won the Grade I Florida Derby. With folks like that it took little courage to pony up a few grand to acquire a Halo stakes-winner who was herself out of a half-sister to Heatherten and Bull In The Heather.

Another astute acquisition on Franks’ behalf was Barkerville Belle, third dam of Garden City Stakes (Grade I) heroine Backseat Rhythm. Barkerville Belle was bought off the backstretch of Hastings Park (nee Exhibition Park) in Vancouver. She was by Ruthie’s Native, hardly a household word, but Franks gave us the green light to buy her and it was a fortuitous move. Barkerville Belle-named for a gold rush town in the Canadian hinterland-won numerous stakes for Franks and she also produced four stakes-winners.

We were engaged by Stonerside Stable a few years ago to purchase some hard-hitting stakes mares for eventual matings with Congaree. Brattothecore fit the description to a T, earning $322,000 on the Ontario circuit. Her first foal, City Style, recently won the Sunday Silence at Louisiana Downs over 1 1/16 miles of turf and is reportedly pointed to the Breeders’ Cup.

Brattothecore is by Katahaula County and therein lies a story. The phone rang one day some years ago from the late trainer Dave McLean in Toronto. Dave had trained Katahaula County for Bruce Duchossois and the horse was going to be tried as a jumper after a Grade III career on the track. But the horse could be bought right then for $20,000. He was due to leave Keeneland on a van within the hour. Ten minutes later I was handing Dave a check. I rang up my good friend Dr. Bryan Anderson and sold him the horse. I wasn’t smart enough to keep any equity in the horse, save some breeding rights, but was truly happy to see them reap the rewards of owning a top regional sire..

Katahaula County was an instant success. He benefited greatly from the deep pool of Vice Regent blood throughout Canada and the Bold Ruckus/Nearctic nick has prospered for nearly two decades. Daughters of Katahaula County are carrying the banner, too.

Golden Ratio, out of a Katahaula County mare, won a Canadian stakes over the weekend.

A stallion named Katowice is another piece of our handiwork. You see his name from time to time as the sire of some pretty decent horses. We got involved when Canadian breeders Rick and Lois Clough asked me to check out a son of Danzig as a stallion prospect for British Columbia. Owner Arthur Appleton was seeking a lease for the colt who was bred in the purple. His agent was also bred in purple…Californian Albert Yank who was notorious for his colorful garb which nearly always included a hue that reminded me of Welch’s grape jelly.

The horse was an unraced 4-year-old but Yank laid a good enough story on me that I agreed to go to Kentucky to evaluate the situation. It was a cold, snowy November afternoon when I first saw Katowice leave the barn at Summerhill Farm on Old Frankfort Pike near Lexington. It was love at first sight.

So I called trainer Bill Badgett who had the horse for Appleton. “He was cut out to be a real runner, the best 2-year-old I had that year. He worked in :59 at Saratoga but he had knee spurs that kept him sore all the time. We gave him time and he came back to work in 1:12. We got excited again but finally had to give up. But there’s no doubt he had ability, “ he said.

Physically he was gorgeous except for a toed in left foot, a common Danzig trait. Pedigree could not be better…out of a half-sister to Mr. Prospector. We took out a four year lease with some options and sent him off to Vancouver. Katowice sired a top horse in his first crop, Kid Katabatic. A product of a mating with a $2500 mare, Kid Katabatic won the Longacres Mile in track record time.We knew we were on to something then.

Things went smoothly until the lease was up for renewal. There had been three management changes in three years at that time and Katowice got caught in some legal skirmishing. A judge ruled that he be allowed to go to Florida.

Katowice cooled off after all that turmoil and he was returned to the Pacific Northwest, this time in Seattle.

It was no picnic selling four-year breedings rights when Katowice came to BC. Friends were skeptical. “Didn’t you preach never to breed to an unraced stud,” he said.

“Guilty as charged,” I answered. “But it’s like the final scene in the great poker movie, The Cincinnati Kid. Edward G. Robinson takes the pot and busts out Steve McQueen.
The Kid cannot believe how Robinson drew against the odds and beat him.”

“Sometimes,” said Robinson,” You have to be right for the wrong reason.”