The legendary bloodstock writer Franco Varola produced two of the most important books on mating and breeding Thoroughbreds in Typology of the Racehorse and The Functional Development of the Thoroughbred. Both are deep pedigree theory and are infrequently used in modern breeding, with its emphasis on commercial demands for the production of foals and yearlings.
Varola would have been as much at a loss to evaluate such qualities as most commercial breeders would be at trying to apply Varola’s difficult but insightful aptitudes and principles to breeding an important racehorse.
The Italian lawyer, writer, and Thoroughbred breeder lived a fascinating life, followed his love of Thoroughbreds and racing from Europe to the New World, and spent his last years in seclusion in Brazil.
Among Varola’s confidantes and correspondents was Virginia Thoroughbred breeder Jill Gordon-Moore, who was manager of Audley Farm for several years.
Varola was working with Hubertus Liebrecht in Germany and at his Audley Farm in Virginia, and Gordon-Moore corresponded with him for years. She said, “When I was working with Audley, Mr. Liebrecht had a service arrangement with Varola to advise on matings. I communicated with him as regularly as one can with someone from Brazil and Italy,” where Varola spent his time.
“He came over once and spent four or five days at Audley,” Gordon-Moore recalled. “We drove all over the country, and had great fun. I didn’t fully comprehend all the things he was telling me, but we went to Middleburg one day, and I had a copy of Typology of the Racehorse in the car. He signed my book, and I think I took a picture of him doing that.”
Varola was a purist about breeding. His matings were done to produce the best horse possible, not the most commercial yearling. As a result, “He and I used to get into arguments because he would not compromise his principles about breeding. The best of all worlds would have been for Hubertus Liebrecht to live, develop his broodmare band of 50 mares, and race homebreds,” Gordon-Moore concluded.
She said that the last article Varola wrote was a piece for The Thoroughbred Times about the German N family after Night Fax had won the Delaware Handicap in 1995.