Jul 11, 2008

Johnny Jones, David Greathouse, consignor Smoot Fahlgren, Kerry Cauthen, Dan Kenny
The Four Star Sales team awaits your inspection at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky, Saratoga, and Keeneland September.


Last Christmas I received a note from Keeneland’s Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell informing me that I had sold the sales graduate of the week.

“Congratulations on pinhooking such a nice horse. Sorry it wasn’t profitable!”, he wrote, taking damning with faint praise to a new level. The steed in question is Paradise Dancer who has gone on to earn some $600,000 after being purchased by me as a weanling for $l0,000. I felt like Jesse James robbing a train after finding a Langfuhr offspring for such a paltry sum.

I sold half to a partner and we entered the colt in Keeneland’s September yearling sale, anticipating a healthy resale profit, particularly after he aced his veterinary exams. It soon became apparent, however, that my enthusiasm for Langfuhr was unmatched by the Keeneland audience. By now this camp included my partner who said he wanted out. Sell him without reserve he said.

To my eye the only sin committed by the Langfuhr colt was he didn’t grow much since we bought him. We let him go for a ridiculous price of $7,000 to a buyer from Florida.

A cheerier bit of news showed up yesterday in the current Blood Horse. It seems that we landed in exalted company, ranked fourth among consignors selling graded stakes winners from 200l-05 under the Dan Kenny Bloodstock banner. Since we blended DKI into Four Star Sales in 2002, our finish was based on the 2001 season. Must have been a good year. But it doesn’t necessarily mean we made any money. It is entirely possible to breed and raise a good horse and still lose money.

That’s why we need to constantly press the case for broodmare awards. It can keep a horse farmer afloat who produced a good horse for the market yet made no direct profit.

Jul 10, 2008


Last weekend produced some of the usual good results. Christmas Ship won an allowance at Pleasanton. She is a stakes-placed half-sister to Tricky Trevor, a winner of over $700,000 which we bought as well for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and partners. Christmas Ship’s earnings are nearing $l00,000. We bought the siblings for a total of $l47,000 and they have grossed $800,000. Each was purchased at OBS March from the consignment of Mike O’Farrell’s Ocala Stud. If everyone did business with the clarity that Mike brings to the job our lives would be easier.

Hollywood Park was the scene of another good Hollendorfer winner in Ransom Captive.
We purchased her dam a couple years ago (Cap Rouge) for a modest price in foal to Woodman. Hollendorfer feels that Ransom Captive is on a path to stakes status and will race next at Del Mar.

We bought the 2yo filly Broadway Hennessy in Florida this winter and she broke Golden Gate’s track record first time out. She was then l-to-5 favorite to win the Juan Gonzales Memorial at Pleasanton but she had to settle for second after a spirited dual on the lead.

Archer’s Gal won again at Woodbine and has surpassed $400,000 in lifetime earnings. We bought her dam, Dance A Go Go for $l2,500.

Juvee Hall finished second in the Supernatural Stakes at Hastings. We bought her sire (Arkansas Derby winner Graeme Hall) and dam (Feel The Pride). There is a great feeling of accomplishment when you can purchase a major stakes-winner for $200,000 and a mare for $20,000 that generate seven figure profits for the client you represent.


I first met Bob Costigan on the backstretch of Hastings Park. He had a 3-year-old filly in training there and sought my opinion about sending her to Woodbine to see if she would prefer turf racing to the Hastings five furlongs dirt oval.

Since she was by Regal Classic out of a mare by Assert it was an easy to confirm his judgment that Inish Glora might fancy the lawn. I was thinking $50,000 claimer while Bob had higher aspirations.

Under the tutelage of old school trainer Mac Benson Inish Glora flourished immediately.
From modest beginnings in Vancouver she eventually reached the summit and was crowned Canada’s champion turf mare two years straight.

While all this was going on Bob asked me if I could find a telephone number for trainer David Carroll, a fellow Irishman who was stabled at Churchill Downs. It seems the pair had been school chums back in Ireland at Gormanston College. They had not spoken in 25 years.

Good fortune smiled on both of them after that reunion. Bob had added an Arch filly named Arravale to his small band of runners and she became not only champion filly in Canada but also Horse of the Year. Imagine two champions in a stable with no more than a handful of runners!

Carroll meanwhile showed that he’s no slouch with his deft handling of Denis of Cork to finish third in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont.

“Bob was the smart one,” said David. “I’d be reading nothing but the Irish Field instead of my school books. It was grand to see him again after all those years.”

Jul 7, 2008


Harry Aleo died with his boots on a few days ago. My first encounter with Harry took place at a yearling sale conducted at Seattle’s now defunct Longacres. He owned a good horse named Minutes Away who had won the Bay Meadows Derby the year before.
A half-brother to Minutes Away was catalogued to sell at Longacres.

I was on a similar mission to try to buy the horse for Louisiana oilman John Franks. We were really rolling at the time, winning stakes on a regular basis with horses bought who had already begun a career or at the yearling and juvenile sales.

The horse we were both after was by first-year sire Night Mover. He had been a brilliant sprinter/miler in California for trainer Bobby Frankel. Franks was prepared to go to $40,000 for the horse and I thought that was ample until Harry showed up with trainer Greg Gilchrist in tow. This now figured to be a little tougher assignment.

For one thing, the Night Mover colt was a physical marvel, as good a looker as you’d find at Keeneland let alone a regional sale in Washington state.

Harry and I were the only serious bidders and he bid $40,000. In the heat of battle I answered with $45,000. He countered at $47,000. Sensing weakness, I hit it again and got the horse for $50,000.

There was just one more detail. Franks firmly reminded me that he had only authorized bidding up to $40,000. He declined to buy the horse.

I was undaunted because I really loved this colt. My Santa Barbara Stable partners were happy to have the horse. We named him Ricehart, an election year pun. Donna Rice and Gary Hart were an item that summer, as befits a colt by Night Mover out of Happy Vixen.

Ricehart made the partners even happier when he won his second start at Santa Anita in l.09. That prompted a $200,000 offer to buy the colt. This time I outsmarted myself by looking in the condition book where I spotted a non-winners of two on the turf at a flat mile.

“Let’s not sell yet,” I counseled. “ He’ll win that turf race and we will get more money.” Said I.

It was a great plan up to the moment when Ricehard bowed a tendon. A couple of months later we took him to a mixed sale at Del Mar. Word spread of the colt’s extreme good looks and every teenage girl in San Diego County wanted to buy him for a show horse.

A cowboy from Oklahoma bought him for $23,000, huge money for a bowed horse, and took him back to Remington Park. A little bit late, perhaps, but he vindicated my faith in him by reeling off win after win. He had set several track records on the turf and won 10 races before he bowed again. Then he won seven more races.