The breeding and racing operation of Gary and Mary West combines racing and selling in a practical attempt to keep the stable on the profitable side of the ledger.
That is a major undertaking in any business, but breeding Thoroughbreds adds a couple extra degrees of difficulty. Yet, when breeders keep and race a colt like Maximum Security (by New Year’s Day), who won 10 of 14 races, earning $12.4 million, balancing the books seems much simpler.
Horses like Maximum Security, however, do not come along every year. In any operation.
So the results of the Grade 2 Fayette Handicap were a welcome way to end the meet. The Wests’ homebred West Will Power (Bernardini) was one of two winners on the card which clinched a first title as leading owners at Keeneland for the Wests. Earlier this year, they had tied with Juddmonte Farms for second among leading owners at the Churchill Downs spring meeting and had been the leading owners at Ellis Park’s meeting over the summer.
West Will Power had been second in a stakes at Ellis in his return from competition after 11 months on the sidelines, then won an allowance at Churchill. Trained this year by Brad Cox, West Will Power has won two of his three starts in 2022, and the Fayette was his first stakes victory.
A winner of his first two starts, West Will Power has now won five of his 12 starts, earning $525,230. Before the Fayette, the horse’s best effort had been a second in the G2 Iselin Handicap last year.
The 5-year-old bay comes from the crop immediately following the one that produced Maximum Security and was one of the colts the breeders elected to retain for their racing stable.
“Gary and Mary like to go to proven stallions,” noted one of the Wests’ advisers, Sid Fernando, “and going back six years to when we at Werk Thoroughbred Consultants helped plan the mating, Bernardini fit that mare best, according to our criteria, and we expected that he would be best at three and up.” And so he has proved.
To get the results that the Wests are aiming for, classic contenders year after year, requires consideration and long-term planning using the best bloodstock and advisers available.
To balance the challenges of mating and managing a sizable broodmare band and racing stable, the Wests have assembled a team of advisers and associates with decades of experience. Chief among these is their racing manager, Ben Glass, who is instrumental in selecting horses at the sales and then managing them for the Wests’ breeding and racing interests.
In addition, Fernando and Roger Lyons of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants assist the Wests and their racing manager with matings and auction recommendations.
Fernando noted that “in the last few years, Gary West has not been buying yearlings at Keeneland, like he had before. Instead, he has been concentrating on breeding more from his home stallions – Game Winner, West Coast, and Maximum Security – as well as well other top-tier sires.”
Among those horses the Wests have bred is leading 4-year-old Life is Good (Into Mischief), which they sold “because their primary focus is the 3-year-old classics, and the thought was that this colt would be better at eight to nine furlongs. They obviously liked him a lot and put a strong reserve on him, but he was such a good-looking prospect that China Horse Club and Maverick Racing (WinStar) bought him for $525,000,” Fernando recalled.
So, the Wests have bred a trio of high-class colts in successive crops, as well as buying Game Winner (Candy Ride) and racing him to a juvenile championship in 2018. The big dark bay now stands at Lane’s End and is one of the stallions that the Wests’ current approach is geared to supporting.
For earlier stallions, Glass purchased at auction the dams of Maximum Security and British Idiom for reasonable prices to breed to stallions New Year’s Day and Flashback, then sold the mares on at moderate prices. At the 2017 Keeneland January sale, the Wests sold Rose and Shine, in foal to Flashback, for $21,000 to Hargus and Sandra Sexton, and as a result British Idiom was not bred by the Wests. Nonetheless, they felt a strong rooting interest when the filly won the G1 Alcibiades Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, then was named the Eclipse Award winner as champion juvenile filly for 2019.
What might be next, with stallions like Game Winner, West Coast, and Maximum Security to work with?