Bill Reightler stood along the low wall behind the seats in the Timonium sales pavilion and bid $100,000 to buy a dark bay Not For Love filly with three lifetime wins, two in stakes, and some pedigree. Also the filly’s consignor, Reightler was a little sheepish when it came to a post-purchase interview.
“I don’t normally do that,” he said of buying a horse he sold. He had a good reason for raising his hand though. An hour earlier, client Angie Moore had called to say she was interested in buying the filly, Maryland-bred 3-year-old Mystic Love. The filly would be a present of sorts for Moore’s daughter Sabrina, just starting out in the Thoroughbred business.
Reightler bid $100,000, and Angie Moore presented a “gift” to her daughter. There was no wrapping paper, no big bow, but plenty of reasons.
“I want to see her succeed in this business,” Angie Moore said at the time, “to make a career of it.”
Mystic Love, purchased for the Moores’ GreenMount Farm at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic’s December mixed sale in 2013, played her part – producing a $95,000 weanling and a $100,000 yearling – as Sabrina and Angie Moore got GreenMount off the ground. The farm delivered foals, took consignments to the sales, brought in outside clients, expanded to an adjacent farm and – as of Nov. 6 – reached the top of the Thoroughbred world thanks to Knicks Go.
Foaled at GreenMount in Reisterstown, Md., bred by Angie and raised by Sabrina, the gray 5-year-old sped off with the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 at Del Mar – passing $8.6 million in career earnings. He should be a unanimous Horse of the Year and champion older male after adding the Classic to a 2021 record that already included wins in the Pegasus World Cup-G1, Prairie Meadows Cornhusker-G3, Whitney-G1 and Lukas Classic-G3. His dam, Kosmo’s Buddy, came a few years ahead of Mystic Love but the plan was the same – acquire mares, plan matings, raise horses, sell the foals (or most of them anyway) and see if GreenMount could become a player. As I wrote four paragraphs ago, mission accomplished.
Sabrina and Angie Moore sold Knicks Go as a weanling and sold Kosmo’s Buddy too – go ahead and think those were mistakes, but there are no guarantees in this game and business is business – all the while proving they can raise quality horses, upgrade their broodmares and make an impact on the world’s biggest racing stages.
They weren’t alone at Del Mar. Four races earlier, Maryland-bred Aloha West stormed down the stretch to win the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint-G1 by a nose. The 4-year-old, bred by Bob Manfuso and Katy Voss and raised at their Chanceland Farm in West Friendship, started 2021 as a maiden and picked a nice spot to win his first stakes.
Manfuso and Voss have been at this far longer than the Moores but the business model isn’t all that different – breed horses, raise them right, sell most of them as youngsters and then watch the magic. Or hope to. Aloha West, a son of Kentucky stallion Hard Spun and Chanceland mare Island Bound, sold for $160,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September in 2018. The dark bay didn’t run until this year, winning his debut for Gary and Mary West and trainer Wayne Catalano in February. Two races later, the colt was owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. He won an allowance at Churchill Downs, two more at Saratoga and finished second in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes-G2 at Keeneland and then broke through at Del Mar.
Voss watched from Maryland, proud of a horse she and her team raised and prepped. Like almost all Chanceland foals, Aloha West went to the Maryland Horse Breeders Association yearling show – and didn’t get a ribbon in a class where Chanceland yearlings swept the first three placings. Manfuso, who died in March 2020, was at that show and talked up the yearlings, the people doing the work and the value of sending horses for a day “at community college” before taking them to a sale or putting them in a training barn.
A former Breeders’ Cup board member, Manfuso would have surely been at Del Mar – in his Big Bad Bob hat maybe – and would have loved it.
The Breeders’ Cup wins weren’t Maryland’s first (Knicks Go won the Dirt Mile in 2020 and the list is dotted with others such as Cigar, Concern, Safely Kept, Sharing and so on), but they mattered. Kentucky and Florida were the only other states – along with Great Britain, Ireland and Japan – represented among the 14 winners. Recent Jockey Club statistics show Maryland’s foal crop on the rise, a rarity as the national crop continues to decline, and Breeders’ Cup success can only help.
Keep it rolling.