The following post appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
So much, for good or ill, in a horse’s racing career depends on how the animal is managed. A year ago, the then-5-year-old Kafwain mare Twelve Twenty Two was the winner of a single race from six starts, and a critic could have made a case that she was “just a horse.”
Today, however, the 6-year-old mare has won six of 12 starts, has lost only once this season, has earnings of $198,556, and has twice won stakes, including the Harry Henson and most recently the Bold Ego Handicap at Sunland Park on Dec. 23.
Trainer Henry Dominguez, who conditions the mare for owners Judy and Kirk Robison and Solitaire Stable, said that “the owners will probably want to race her during the winter, then maybe breed her next spring.”
The trainer noted, “We claimed her out of Hollywood Park a little more than a year ago for $25,000. She’s been good to us. She had run some good races when we claimed her, including a close one to Life At Ten,” a nose behind that multiple G1 winner in a maiden race early in the career of each. “We thought she had some back class, had some conditions, and would work for us out here” in the Arizona and New Mexico racing circuit, Dominguez added.
Among the back class for Twelve Twenty Two was a third in the California Oaks, which was also the mare’s only start at 3. Unraced at 4, Twelve Twenty Two continued in training at 5, and her present owners claimed her out of her only start at 5, when Twelve Twenty Two started as favorite in a $25,000 claimer after being away from racing for 22 months.
Apparently, previous trainer Ron Ellis had resolved whatever kept the mare off the track so long because Dominguez said that “we haven’t done anything out of the ordinary with her. She just came like this. She’s done everything we’ve asked and is a real good horse to have around.”
Had either the previous owner, Jay Em Ess Stable, given up on the nice-looking mare or had she been claimed by an outfit that didn’t respect her potential, the results might not have been so positively exciting. But as evidence of how far she’s progressed, Twelve Twenty Two’s only loss since the claim came in the G1 Humana Distaff on Derby Day.
Now the big mare is fulfilling expectations long held for her success. Bred in Florida by veterinarian Jeffrey T. Berk (now practicing in Kentucky), Twelve Twenty Two was a nice prospect that Berk hadn’t intended to breed in his own name.
“I basically tried to buy the best mares I could afford, getting them off the track and trying to identify the potential up and coming sires,” Berk said. “In retrospect, I don’t think that’s a great way to breed a good racehorse. But 10 years ago, selling young mares in foal to young sires was the way to make money. My business plan was not to keep them very long, but this mare [Southern Solstice, the dam of Twelve Twenty Two] didn’t get sold.”
As a result, the Kafwain filly that Summer Solstice produced in February 2005 was bred in Berk’s name.
The attractions of Summer Solstice for Berk began with her pedigree, as the mare is a daughter of the major international sire Southern Halo out of Bedroom Window, dam of the good stakes winner Bedroom Blues (by Cure the Blues), winner of $586,569.
A $53,000 weanling at Keeneland November in 2000, Southern Solstice most recently sold at the 2007 Keeneland January sale. In foal to Broken Vow, the mare brought $100,000 from Charles Middleton.
In between, Berk had purchased the mare privately off the racetrack, tried to sell her at the 2004 Keeneland November sale in foal to Kafwain (carrying the stakes winner) but bought her back for $47,000. Through the Summerfield consignment, Berk sold the mare in foal to Peace Rules at the 2005 OBS October sale for $47,000 and sold Twelve Twenty Two at the same auction, where the weanling brought $25,000 from Clover IV. Twelve Twenty Two was sent back through the ring as a yearling, where she brought $35,000 from Jay Em Ess Stable.
Jay Em Ess is known for buying good-looking, athletic young stock and frequently enough getting the best out of them. The mare’s current trainer Dominguez said that “Twelve Twenty Two is about 16.1, and stoutly made. There’s a lot of bone and body to her. She’s a nice mare, and she shows it on the racetrack.”
Berk concluded, “It’s rare you see a horse become this successful so late,” and that, I believe, is the result of a number of people, at every stage of this mare’s career, doing the right thing to enable Twelve Twenty Two to realize her potential over the long run. Now she has.