The following post appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
Although the showplace farms in Kentucky like Gainesway, Lane’s End, and Darley at Jonabell run to many hundreds or even thousands of acres, the vast majority of horse farms in the Bluegrass are small to medium-sized operations.
Suzi Shoemaker’s Lantern Hill Farm outside Midway, Ky., in Woodford County is one such place. With 187 acres, the farm requires a staff and daily attention to maintain the Thoroughbreds and get the best results from the broodmares that Shoemaker breeds for herself and clients.
Lantern Hill has had considerable success, both in the sales ring and at the racetrack, but the past month has been superb for Shoemaker because she bred and races Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes winner Motor City (by Street Sense) and co-bred and sold Sabercat (Bluegrass Cat), who won the G3 Delta Downs Jackpot on Saturday.
Shoemaker said, “We bred Sabercat in partnership with Bill Punk, who raced Ordway and who has been a longtime friend and client following the purchase of Ordway [for $80,000 at the Keeneland September sale] in 1995 as a yearling. The next year, Ordway won the Champagne and ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.”
Punk owned and raced Ordway in partnership with Phil DiLeo, and at the end of the horse’s racing career, he went to stud at Claiborne Farm. As part of having a stallion at stud with a major operation, Punk purchased some mares to help support the stallion, and Shoemaker said, “He purchased Miner’s Blessing in foal to Salt Lake to breed her to Ordway.”
Since Salt Lake is also the sire of Ordway, they clearly liked the cross of Deputy Minister, the sire of Salt Lake, over Mr. Prospector, the sire of Forty Niner, and both the Salt Lake and Ordway foals from those matings were winners in brief racing careers.
Neither earned black type, however, but later foals out of Miner’s Blessing fared better. The mare’s fifth foal was the Royal Academy filly Olivine, who won the Busher Stakes at 3 and cemented her dam’s place at Lantern Hill as a solid producer.
Now 17, Miner’s Blessing was purchased as an unraced 4-year-old at the Keeneland November sale for $180,000 in foal to Salt Lake. She was bred by Stuart Janney III and is a daughter of the top sire Forty Niner and the Halo mare Bless You, who ran third in the Geisha Handicap and produced stakes winner Conquistadoress (Seeking the Gold).
Shoemaker said, “She has been here a long time, and we’ve had some nice foals out of her. She definitely takes after the Halo side of her pedigree. She’s a big dark bay or brown mare with a lot of bone. And she doesn’t look much like the Forty Niners we typically think of. She throws a good-looking yearling, and Sabercat looks like he will relish going two turns.”
The bay colt’s performance in the Delta Jackpot suggested as much, and he proved his gameness in a contentious race. Shoemaker said, “I’m a little surprised he’s been such a good 2-year-old, but we’re really happy with his progress.”
Miner’s Blessing did not have a foal in 2011 and is not pregnant for next year. Shoemaker said, “She has been a great producer for us, and we’ll be able to get an early start with her in 2012. She had a Purge yearling filly who sold for $20,000 to Bryan Rice, and his investment is appreciated.”
“Although Miner’s Blessing is not a truly old mare by my standards,” said Shoemaker, who bred Ordway out of the 17-year-old mare Priceless Countess, “some trainers won’t buy a yearling once a mare is past a certain age. It is distressing to see people walking away from foals out of older mares.”
With both Sabercat and Motor City out of mares that typically would be called “old,” perhaps those buyers need to take another look.
One buyer who did not walk away was Ron Winchell, who purchased Sabercat for $120,000 as a yearling and races him as Winchell Thoroughbreds with his mother Joan Winchell.