Sadly we recently lost great friend and supporter Jim, for whom and with whom I have bought and sold horses, argued and laughed, been fired and always reinstated, for over 20 years.
A larger than life character, Jim was a great judge of horses and pedigrees, and a self-made businessman who was single-minded in his pursuit of excellence.
He was always very fair, and after a right royal dressing down which I usually deserved he was always back on the phone come the next sale.
He was blessed with a saint in his wife Alice whose calm and cheerful presence was always on hand, with her glass of Merlot, to keep everything cool.
God bless you, Jim. I am missing you already.
Such a host of highlights from Keeneland that I wonder where to begin! Credit must go to Keeneland Assoc. for achieving the impossible task of putting a quart into a pint pot. Staging the Breeders Cup at Keeneland was a very bold and far sighted project which many (including me) doubted. Sadly it involved sacrificing the Keeneland polytrack, a retrograde step in horse welfare terms, but every other aspect of the planning and administration of the two days, indeed the week, was seamless and faultless.
I remember reading in various WWII reminiscences how impressed our UK forces were with the “can do” attitude of the US military when you eventually came to help us kick Hitler out of Europe. Well “can do” must have been the motto of Keeneland and the B.C. committee, and they did. It was a privilege to be there.
My only criticism is that everyone would have benefited from a breathing space between the racing and the sales. I am told Keeneland hoped that the punters who came in the many executive jets assembled on Bluegrass Airport would stay for the sales. Sorry boys, those things are all on charter and they’re not going to hang around for 2/3 days while the occupants go shopping. As one knowledgeable and experienced buyer commented – when I’m spending a million dollars or more, I like to see the horse more than once. How right he is.
Fasig Tipton should have held their nerve and held their sale on Monday evening, forcing Keeneland to start on Tuesday morning. Everyone would have benefited, particularly the fillies that ran in the Breeders Cup.
I was lucky enough to be involved in five $1.0m plus transactions during the week, two as agent to the vendor, and three as purchaser’s agent.
Two years ago I recommended Bobby Flay to buy DOUBLE TAPPED as a 3 y.o. off the track for $340,000. Her family did quite well in the interim and it was pleasing to see her sell at F-T for $1.3m to Bridlewood Farm. Her first foal, a nice MEDAGLIA d’ORO colt is back at Stone Farm and should sweeten the deal some more next September. Pinhooking mares is not really part of the Flay business plan, but the cards had fallen so fortuitously on this occasion that it seemed prudent to take some money off the table. I hope she will do very well for her new owners.
Earlier that evening I paid $1.4m on behalf of Pursuit of Success LLC for Hip 159, a charming 2 y.o. filly (pictured below) by BERNADINI out of BETTER THAN HONOUR. Drop dead gorgeous and 2nd dam BLUSH WITH PRIDE – I doubted, going in, if my budget would be adequate, but it was one of those nights when my luck was well and truly in. I hope the new owners will try her on the track before breeding her. She looks very racy, and Elliott Walden was rumoured to be among the underbidders.
Across town at Keeneland the next day I watched Bobby Flay purchase MODERNSTONE for $350K. She is a direct descendant of one of my original purchases for Juddmonte, namely MOFIDA. MOFIDA came in a package deal from Robert Sangster which included SOOKERA, the grand dam of HASILI, arguably the only mare recently to give URBAN SEA a run for her money as a producer. MOFIDA founded her own dynasty which still resides at Juddmonte. MODERNSTONE had recently won a stake at Kentucky Downs and will hopefully progress from there.
Later that day I was again successful for Pursuit of Success in purchasing SUNSET GLOW (pictured below) for $1.375m from Wesley Ward. I saw her run an excellent race at Royal Ascot last year when second in the Albany Stakes, Gr III, since when she has achieved Gr I success at Del Mar and set a course record at Belmont Park. Not many 3 y.o.’s could match her air miles.
Ten years ago I purchased a FASLIYEV filly foal for Jim and Alice Sapara for $290,000. The cards fell right again as RAGS TO RICHES and PEEPING FAWN popped up as champion fillies in their respective jurisdictions, adding further lustre to an already sexy page.
Jim Sapara raced his filly, now named LACADENA, as a 2 y.o., and consigned her as a winning, stakes placed filly to Fasig’s 2007 November Sale. She was not sold in the ring, and I suggested to Bobby Flay that he should purchase her. She disappointed as a 3 y.o. but her second foal AMERICA won a Gr. III at Belmont to add to her Gr. I placings on Breeders Cup Friday, 3 days before her dam was due back in the ring.
LACADENA realised $1.3m on her third appearance in a sale ring (pictured below), leaving her proud owner with three daughters to carry on the line. Good business.
Later the same day I was sitting with Barry Weisbord when the lovely Christina Jelm joined us. In the course of the conversation she mentioned SAM’S SISTER, the obscurely bred but very talented Gr I winner trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. I went off to investigate the physical while Barry worked on the pedigree. We both liked what we saw and bought her for Richard Santulli for $1.150m. How often does something good come out of old men meeting a young girl in a bar?