Call it Round Two. Last month’s feature checking in on an assortment of broodmares around the region spilled over into even more and – as usual – they’re all stars in their own way. Loved, fussed over, cared for, the region’s mares come from all corners of the Thoroughbred world but most trace back to a decision by somebody somewhere to buy a horse. Generations later, the families are still going strong.
Toasty heats up
When a striking chestnut filly stuck her head out into the aisle of the late Allaire duPont’s training barn at Woodstock Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., 14 years ago, Mike Palmer was hooked.
Toasty, sidelined from training due to a splint, was an unraced daughter of Polish Numbers out of the Crafty Prospector mare Crafty Toast, a pedigree Palmer called “broodmare personified.” The impression was enough to convince him to buy her and bring her to CandyLand Farm, which he’s managed since 1995, in Middletown, Del.
“I just flat out fell in love with her when I first saw her,” Palmer said of the now 18-year-old. “She’s been such a consistent mare, she throws beautiful foals.”
Toasty had her first foal, a winning daughter of Domestic Dispute named Dirty Sweet, in 2007. She has since produced Victory Arch, a 7-year-old gelded son of Archarcharch who finished second in the 2016 Golden Circle Stakes, and stakes-placed colt Shazier.
A 4-year-old colt by Cairo Prince, Shazier sold for $180,000 at 2 at the 2018 April OBS sale, that September got his first win, and was second in last year’s H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
With seven winners from eight starters, Toasty has produced foals that are best described as “high voltage.” According to Palmer, “They’re the mellowest and most relaxed horses that you’d ever want to be around, but once you get their hearts pumping and their blood pressure up, they turn into lightning rods.”
The mare also has an unnamed 3-year-old filly by Golden Lad, an unnamed 2-year-old filly by Palace Malice and a yearling colt by Friesan Fire.
Toasty’s mating with the latter was inspired by the success of her half-brother Army Mule, a Pennsylvania-bred son of Friesan Fire who captured the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in 2018 and entered stud at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms in Lexington, Ky., last year.
“I’m very, very happy with the Friesan Fire we got out of her. He looks like a mini-racehorse that you could go put the tack on,” said Palmer.
Due this month to Kentucky stallion Mo Town, Toasty will be sent to Country Life to foal out, which she’s done for the past four years.
“Toasty’s like an automatic mare. I think sometimes she’d prefer you not even mess with her and just let her have her foals on her own. She’s very smart,” Palmer said.
Although he has not booked anything yet, Palmer hopes to breed Toasty back to Golden Lad, who he has a breeding right to. “He’s having such a great freshman year and I really like the filly she had by him.”
Toccoa reigns at Eagle Point
A queen in her own right, 19-year-old Toccoa ranks above the rest at Donna Dennehy and daughter Karen Godsey’s Eagle Point Farm in Ashland, Va. A granddaughter of 1989 Dennehy purchase Lanes Above, Toccoa is by Purple Comet, who once stood at Eagle Point, out of the mare Misquinto.
Giving Godsey her first win as a trainer back in 2005, Toccoa raced for eight years before deciding, on her own terms, it was time to retire.
A trip to the track for training prior to her first start as an 11-year-old at Colonial Downs in 2012 became the deciding factor.
“She just stopped and popped up on her front-end a few times, which was odd since she’d never done that in her entire life,” said Godsey. “She refused a couple times when we tried to get her on [the track] and I said ‘Well, that’s it.’ Her rider jumped off right there, we took all the tack off at the gap and we walked her back [to the barn].”
Toccoa spent two years on the farm as Godsey remained apprehensive to the idea of breeding her. However, prompting from her mother and an offer of a free season to West Virginia stallion Peak Dancer turned things around. Toccoa’s first foal, stakes-placed Braxton, arrived in 2014.
The Eagle Point homebreds enjoyed a banner meet at Colonial Downs last year as Toccoa’s daughter What the Beep (by Great Notion) won the M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes and Braxton finished second in the Meadow Stable Stakes.
Along with her 3-year-old filly Taskinas (by Orientate), who broke her maiden Dec. 6 at Laurel Park, Toccoa has a yearling filly by Great Notion named Chickahominy, a full-sister to What the Beep.
“The fact that she’s given us three winners and two blacktype horses now, it’s been so much fun. Now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t breed her earlier because I want more Toccoa babies,” said Godsey. “They all have a ton of heart.”
Braxton, What the Beep and Taskinas, who all campaign for their breeder, spent the winter on the farm. Godsey is giving Chickahominy time to grow, with plans to start her training in the fall.
Despite Toccoa not cycling last year, Godsey hopes to breed her again, as her offspring have provided the family-owned farm with a wave of excitement. “I think we’ve gone to the racetrack to watch races more in the last four years than we have in the last 20. We just have some really fun horses to go watch.”
More than Anna’s mama
With Onearmedbandit’s success on the track, it wasn’t much of a surprise when she took to life as a broodmare.
Purchased as a yearling for $13,500 by trainer Jerry Robb, who owns No Guts No Glory Farm with his wife Gina, Onearmedbandit won her first four races and took the 2008 Miss Shenandoah Stakes as a 2-year-old. She won seven of her 22 career starts, earning $304,878. The daughter of No Armistice was retired in 2012 with a throat issue.
“She was pretty phenomenal and did everything we asked of her. We decided to retire her because she had done so much for us,” said Gina. “[Onearmedbandit] was actually the first horse Jerry brought home to breed, so she was the one who started everything off for us.”
When it came to the decision of who to breed Onearmedbandit to, Northview Stallion Station’s Great Notion was the first choice. “My husband trained a lot of Great Notion babies and did really well with them,” said Gina, who mentioned seven-time winner Great Love.
The match has proven to be a success, as Onearmedbandit’s first foal Anna’s Bandit has won 10 stakes. The 6-year-old West Virginia-bred mare won nine of her 11 starts in 2019, including the West Virginia “Cavada” Breeders Classic and the Maryland Million Distaff within a span of a week. Making her first graded stakes start in February, Anna’s Bandit finished third in the Barbara Fritchie-G3 at Laurel.
Gracies Bandit (by During), Onearmedbandit’s second foal, raced six times, recording one win, before suffering an injury that led to her retirement in 2018. The 5-year-old mare is due to foal to the cover of Long River this month. Little Bold Bandit, a 2-year-old full-brother to Anna’s Bandit, just started training, while Onearmedbandit’s yearling filly by Mosler is on the farm.
“We decided to go to Mosler because he was a new sire and we’re really big into the nicking patterns, so we thought we’d give the ‘A’ nick a try,” said Gina.
Onearmedbandit gave birth to her second Mosler foal, a colt, in January. With a stocky, strong build and a spitfire personality, the new Mosler colt takes after his dam.
“It’s funny because she passes down this trait where they all look like tanks and they’re very assertive, confident and just all about themselves, and [Onearmedbandit] was the same way,” said Gina.
The Robbs are planning to breed Onearmedbandit to Golden Lad, based on the “A” nick result and success of his 2-year-olds last year. “We try to stay with Maryland sires as we’re trying to support the [state] program,” said Gina.
Holy Pow Wow seeks encores
When Beau Ridge Farm owners John McKee and Cynthia O’Bannon bred Holy Pow Wow to their stallion Fiber Sonde, the leading sire in West Virginia for the past two years, they weren’t expecting to produce a graded stakes winner.
They simply hoped for a nice horse like Hidden Canyon, a two-time stakes winning son of Fiber Sonde they’d bred out of Ghost Canyon, a daughter of Indian Charlie.
“Obviously you like all of the babies and you have a lot of hopes and dreams in all of them,” said O’Bannon. “You hope that one’s going to pan out.” Knowing that daughters of Indian Charlie nicked well with Fiber Sonde, O’Bannon bought Holy Pow Wow for $5,000 at the 2013 Keeneland January sale. The mare never finished better than seventh in four starts.
“She’s a big mare, but she’s just as docile and kind as she could be,” said O’Bannon. “She has nice, sensible babies.”
After producing her first foal by Fiber Sonde, allowance winner Indian Sound, in 2014, Holy Pow Wow had Late Night Pow Wow. The 5-year-old West Virginia-bred owned by Breeze Easy blew everyone away as she won the 2018 Charles Town Oaks-G3 and 2019 Barbara Fritchie-G3, along with five other stakes, to finish her career last year with 12 wins from 15 starts and earnings of $700,400.
“I always liked her,” said O’Bannon. “You always like the big, smart ones that do everything right and she obviously fell in that category.”
After a sixth in the Presque Isle Downs Masters-G2 in September, Late Night Pow Wow was retired. “I was just glad that she didn’t get injured, retired relatively sound, and will be bred to nice horses. She’s in for a good life,” said O’Bannon.
Following the multiple graded stakes winner are full-siblings Muad’dib and Fiona Bella. Muad’dib, a 3-year-old gelding owned by David Raim, made a winning debut Feb. 5 at Charles Town and came back to win again on Feb. 28, while 2-year-old filly Fiona Bella, co-owned by trainer Javier Contreras and Breeze Easy, is in training.
Interest in breeding to Fiber Sonde, now in his 12th year at stud, has only increased as his progeny continue to excel on the track.
“When it comes to Fiber Sonde, we’ve been really blessed,” O’Bannon said. “He’s probably the horse that’s once in a lifetime. I wish you got one every time you turned around, but you don’t, and you don’t get a [Holy] Pow Wow every time either. Obviously those two crossed together is a good thing.” Holy Pow Wow foaled a Fiber Sonde colt March 3. Despite previous offers of breeding seasons to stallions such as Arrogate and California Chrome, O’Bannon plans to keep breeding to Fiber Sonde. “The breeders’ awards at Charles Town have meant a lot to us,” she said. “That keeps the farm and everything else going.”
Holy Pow Wow has resonated with many on the farm, but she’s got a big fan in 6-year-old Anthony Crosen, whose grandmother Michelle Shrader is part of the nightwatch crew at Beau Ridge.
“Of course everybody wants to lead Holy Pow Wow around because she’s the big mare, so her grandson really thinks he’s something leading her into the barn,” said O’Bannon. “It’s pretty cute.”
Nashi builds second career
Intrigued by Nashi’s strong pedigree and resilience on the track, Ray Pennington claimed the 5-year-old mare for $6,000 in 2013.
The daughter of E Dubai and the Storm Cat mare Bluster finished her career nine starts after Pennington’s claim, winning six and earning her new owner nearly $100,000. Making 39 starts, she ended with 13 wins, 10 seconds and six thirds, with earnings of $252,210.
“She was a heck of a racehorse. For a horse that’s so easygoing, she would tense up on race nights and just shake with the anticipation of going to the racetrack,” said Ray’s wife Patricia. “She knew what her job was and she did it quite well.”
Nashi went home to the Penningtons’ Foxfield Farm in Berryville, Va. “Nashi is the sweetest and kindest mare, but she’s the head horse on the property,” said Patricia. “She doesn’t even have to lay an ear back to get what she wants. All she has to do is walk and they just get out of her way. She’s the first in, first out, first to get her feed, and that’s just the way it is.”
She has produced multiple stakes winner Burnin Ring O Fire, a 4-year-old gelded son of Limehouse, along with stakes-placed Virginia Peach and her yearling sister Dixie Yodeler, both daughters of Swiss Yodeler. Their sires stand at O’Sullivan Farms in Charles Town, W.Va., where Nashi will also be sent to foal this year, as she is due to their stallion Aldrin this month. “[Farm manager and co-owner] John Funkhouser does an excellent job with the mares and foals and they have a great reproductive vet, Dr. Sabine Taylor,” said Patricia.
The Penningtons’ foals are born in West Virginia before returning to Foxfield, which qualifies the West Virginia-breds with Virginia certification.
“They’re all precocious and get you your money back early,” said Ray of Nashi’s foals. “They’re sound and they’ve gone on to run on seemingly just about any surface, from grass or dirt to mud, so they’re quite versatile.”
As a 2-year-old, Burnin Ring O Fire won his debut on the turf and followed up with back-to-back wins in the Henry Mercer Memorial and West Virginia Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders Classic on the dirt. Last September, Virginia Peach finished second in the Rachel’s Turn Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Nashi is also the dam of current 2-year-old Corkscrew (by Denis of Cork). This year she will be sent to Mor Spirit, who stands at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. Jumelle Springs, Nashi’s stakes-producing pasturemate, is due to foal to Gattopardo and is booked back to Karakontie (Jpn), who stands at Gainesway in Kentucky.
The truth at Hickory Plains
When it comes to family lines, Hickory Plains’ Randy Cohen knows how to make them count. And for his broodmare True Sensation, it began when Cohen saw her dam, True Norther, at the 1997 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic (February) winter mixed sale. Intrigued by the big and powerful daughter of Far North in foal to Distinctive Pro, Cohen took the mare home for $9,200.
True Norther was bred to Itaka, who Cohen owned a part of and stood at his farm in Frederick, Md., until 2002, when sold to stand in Nebraska. The pairing produced True Sensation in 1999.
“There are certain stallions whose very best foal and only foal to win a stake is a mare,” said Cohen. “They’re out there. And in this case [for Itaka], it was True Sensation.”
Bred by Randy and his father Albert Cohen, True Sensation raced for the farm as she swept through a career highlighted by wins in the 2001 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, 2002 Twixt Stakes and 2004 All Brandy Stakes. “The greatest thing about her was at a mile-and-an-eighth she was an amazing horse,” said Randy. “On the dirt and in the mud, she always moved way up. She’s a horse of a decade.”
True Sensation retired with six wins, six seconds and seven thirds from 34 starts, with earnings of $308,486.
She is the dam of stakes performers Fear No Evil (by Line of David) and Toughest ’Ombre, a 7-year-old gelded son of Tale of the Cat. Fear No Evil placed in eight stakes from a 30-start career.
Following a third in the Floral Park at Belmont Park in October, Cohen retired the now 6-year-old mare.
“She’s a precious, well-deserving mare who will have a home forever,” he said.
True Sensation has a yearling filly by Tapizar and was barren this year. She, along with her daughter Fear No Evil, will reside at Sarah Cahill’s Three Sisters Farm in Midland, Ky., as Cohen considers matings. Mother and daughter are joined by Cohen’s fourth generation-bred mare No Means No, due to foal to Tapizar in May.
The story of stakes-placed No Means No (a 10-year-old by Louis Quatorze) began when Cohen purchased Closing Charger at Keeneland November in 1985. She was carrying Misty Clover (by Highland Blade), who in turn produced Cojak’s stakes-winning daughter Mysterious Jak. That mare’s first foal, Stare, is the dam of No Means No, who finished third in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Stakes for Hickory Plains before being claimed in her 3-year-old season.
No Means No raced two more years for various connections before she was entered in the 2014 Keeneland November sale, where Cohen bought her back for $15,000. She has since produced four foals by Kentucky stallion Temple City, the oldest 4-year-old gelding Stand My Ground, who debuted last year. Cohen’s mares will come back to Maryland to foal at Elberton Hill Farm in Darlington.
Gold in New Jersey
Joe Coles and Gail Shaw struck gold with the first horse they ever owned, as she is responsible for all their breeding success.
The couple – who breed and race as G J Stable – have owned just two broodmares the past three decades. Both became stakes producers. And each foal to race is a winner.
It all began with a first and only purchase in the early 1990s, New Jersey-bred filly Signa.
Coles likes to go to the races, and after a time decided to get a horse. He mentioned his interest to trainer Joe Zoppi, who found Signa.
The unraced 2-year-old Roman Reasoning filly was for sale, but the deal fell through because of a veterinary check. About eight months later, her name came up again – she was sound, but too big in Zoppi’s opinion to race at 2, which her then-owner wanted to do. Zoppi thought she’d be ruined and mentioned her to Coles again. “The price was a little too pricey for me,” said Coles. The price came down, and Coles and Shaw had their first racehorse. Zoppi said to wait a year.
In her debut, as a 4-year-old at Hialeah in the spring of 1994, Signa finished second. Her first win came four months later at Monmouth. Racing in allowances and an occasional claiming race, she made 43 starts, won twice, placed 12 times, earned $62,364 and put Coles and Shaw in the breeding business when she retired.
Signa was New Jersey Broodmare of the Year in 2011 after producing her second stakes winner, that year’s state-bred champion sprinter Dabnabit. Of her six foals, five raced and won. When she died a little more than a decade ago, her first foal, Cigno d’Oro, kept G J Stable rolling.
Now 21, Cigno d’Oro earned $372,604, won seven times, including two stakes, one each at Monmouth and Meadowlands. She is the dam of five winners, including two-time stakes winner Prendimi, a son of Dance With Ravens whose final start of 2019 came in the Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park, where he controlled the pace until caught late and finished second. A number of G J Stable horses have Italian references – Prendimi is Italian for catch me.
“I have less trouble naming a horse if I put it in Italian,” said Coles. Cigno d’Oro’s name translates to “Golden Swan” and her 2019 filly by Mission Impazible will be named Cigno Bella.
“I haven’t gone to top studs, but I believe a mare really puts everything into the foal. [Cigno d’Oro] does, she really does,” said Coles. G J Stable has one other runner at the track, Cigno d’Oro’s 3-year-old Redeemed colt Our Man Luke – named for one of Coles’ dogs – who has yet to start but is in training in Florida.
Cigno d’Oro resides at Jan and Joe Laszlo’s Hunters Run Farm in Neptune. After missing to the cover of Mission Impazible last year, she is booked to Madefromlucky.
Young mares at Dark Hollow
“Quirky as hell” may seem like a red flag for a broodmare prospect, but follow that with “She had all the talent in the world,” and Caught Dream’n is an exciting future broodmare at David and JoAnn Hayden’s Dark Hollow Farm in Upperco, Md.
Bred and owned by Dark Hollow, Dorsey and Christine Brown, David and Alena Schwaber and Arnold and Susie Davidov, the 5-year-old daughter of Blame and the graded stakes-placed Malibu Moon mare Dream retired in the fall of 2018. She made six starts in 2017 and 2018 for trainer Phil Schoenthal, winning her second start, placing in two stakes and and never finishing worse than third while battling gate issues.
“She wouldn’t come out of the gate in the morning, she refused,” said David Hayden of challenges with the filly. A stint with Graham Motion at Fair Hill Training Center failed to change much as she refused to break in what turned out to be her final career start, the All Brandy Stakes at Laurel in September.
“Arnold [Davidov] has his binoculars, and he’s looking for her going down the backside and he says ‘I can’t find her,’ ” Hayden said. “I said, ‘Turn to the right, look in the gate. She’s still in the stall.’
“She’s great to be around. At the racetrack she’s a nut. . . she was always difficult, that’s why we stopped her.”
Caught Dream’n slipped when bred to The Factor in 2019, and by early February was in Kentucky to be bred to Liam’s Map.
She is one of five young Dark Hollow Farm mares having their first foals this year or being bred for a first foal in 2021. Maiden Shimmering Aspen went to Kentucky for a date with champion Uncle Mo. Purchased by Ellen Charles as a yearling for $200,000, the 6-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon and stakes winner Aspenglow (by Lion Hearted) retired after winning Delaware Park’s Tax Free Shopping Distaff Stakes for the second year in a row last September. One of the top distaff sprinters in the region, she won nine times, five stakes, and earned $415,660 in 20 starts.
Two 5-year-olds produced their first foals this year – the Quality Road mare Madison Avenue delivered a Malibu Moon colt Jan. 31 and is being bred back to Catalina Cruiser; and No, a daughter of Animal Kingdom, is the dam of a Unified filly born Feb. 10 and is booked to Great Notion. “If he can’t improve your mare,” said Hayden of Great Notion, “you better get rid of the mare.”
Madison Avenue won once at 3. No, campaigning for a partnership, failed to win and was offered at Keeneland November as a 3-year-old. The Haydens bought out the partnership.
Eight-year-old Broken Vow mare Cap’s Vow, owned by the Haydens in partnership with farm manager John Foster, was due in mid-March. She raced for George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable early, winning at Penn National as a 3-year-old, bounced through the claiming ranks and made five hurdle starts in 2018. Late that year, Dark Hollow consigned her for a client to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale.
“John Foster and I were looking at her, and we just liked her physically,” said Hayden. “We split her after purchasing her for $4,200. She’s in foal to Sky Mesa and is going back to Speightster.”
Everything is beautiful
Hello Now is what dreams are made of.
Walter Beck’s family headed to the 2018 Fasig-Tipton December mixed sale with a simple mission of upgrading the broodmare band for their Holly House Farm of Ellicott City, Md.
“We liked two horses,” said Robin DuBrul, Beck’s daughter. “Hello Now was the second to go through, and we maxed out on the first one. My dad decided to bid on her and he actually purchased her.”
The price for the mare, then 8, was $2,000. The daughter of Tiznow, a $100,000 sales yearling, won at 2 for Maggie Bryant and trainer Rodney Jenkins before being given to Ellen Charles as a broodmare prospect. The 2018 catalog page showed three foals – a 2016 unraced colt by Bandbox, a 2017 filly by Golden Lad and a 2018 colt by Mosler – all born in May. And Hello Now went through the sale as not pregnant.
“We liked her pedigree, and when they brought her out for us to look at her, she had the presence,” said DuBrul. “We immediately got this feel about her. And she’s a nice mare, she has an amazing look to her and we had the opportunity to look at her baby [the Golden Lad yearling filly] that was at the sale and we loved how the baby turned out.”
How quickly fortunes can change. Even though she was checked at the sale, at Dark Hollow Farm, and by Holly House’s own veterinarian, Hello Now was actually in foal.
“We had her under lights, and come the end of March when she hadn’t come in heat, we wondered what was going on,” DuBrul said. “When my vet came out he said, ‘There’s a reason.’ We had to do a bit of work to find out who the stud was.”
Her 2019 foal, born May 21, is by Golden Years, who stands at O’Sullivan Farms in West Virginia. The dark bay colt, described by DuBrul’s niece Meghan Horsey as “one of the sweetest yearlings I’ve worked with,” has been named Surprise Hello. The family intends to race him.
“Nobody has enough money to buy him,” said DuBrul. “He’s going to be Virginia-certified, he’s Maryland-bred, West Virginia-sired. Look where he’s going to be able to go.”
But that wasn’t the biggest surprise. When the Golden Lad filly Hello Beautiful hit the track, she proved to be a star with dominant wins in Maryland Million Lassie and Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship last year. Holly House is fielding calls to sell the mare, but has turned down all offers. After not getting in foal to Hoppertunity last year, Hello Now is going back to Golden Lad.
Lots of love in West Virginia
Children, dogs and horses have consumed Leslie Cromer’s life at her farm in Shenandoah Junction, W.Va. The former jockey, a winner of nearly 450 races, mostly at Charles Town, bought her farm while still working at the track 23 years ago. Raising small children, she chose to spend more time at the farm and started offering riding lessons. Then she added breeding Miniature Schnauzers, which she shows in the conformation ring and in performance events. The dogs are still active, but most of the riding stable’s 20 horses and ponies are now retired. Then there are the broodmares, led by Lov’emnrun.
“My friend Elizabeth Meehan was the one who set it all up for me to have her,” said Cromer. “She had a lot of broodmares at the time and I didn’t have any. I had some before, but for one reason or another, I didn’t [about 10 years ago], so she called me.”
Lov’emnrun, a 2001 daughter of Not For Love and the Rollicking mare Not So Cold, from a female line descending from Challedon’s sister Little Sleeper, had one foal, born in 2006, who was never registered. The mare was a two-time winner at 3 from 10 starts over a six-month span in 2004. Her final start that year came in August at Pimlico. She then disappeared for two and a half years (during which time she was bred), and was back at the track in January 2007. In 13 starts at 6, she failed to win. She made her last Dec. 20, 2008, for a $4,000 tag at Charles Town.
Cromer bred her to West Virginia stallion Peak Dancer in 2011, and got the winner Dance for Love. The mare’s next foal, the 2014 colt by Fiber Sonde, is graded stakes winner and $950,756 earner Runnin’toluvya.
“I had children, so I needed to go to someone close by. And it was hard for me to set anything up or do it myself,” said Cromer of her choice of Fiber Sonde. “I heard his foals were doing pretty well, so I decided to give it a shot.
“I had [Runnin’toluvya] as a yearling and he was just another baby. I’m friends with Tim and Judy [Grams] and I asked if they wanted to take him and give him a chance. They had the Peak Dancer [who had just won] so they came out to look at him and liked him and took him.”
Lov’emnrun has had challenges carrying foals. “She has to be stitched,” said Cromer. “If she’s not stitched well she doesn’t conceive.”
Twice the mare aborted a few months before she was due. Her third foal, the Grams’ undefeated 2019 stakes winner Loving Touch, also by Fiber Sonde, was born in May 2016. Cromer gave the mare the next year off, but she failed to conceive the following two years. Bred to Bandbox last year, she looked to have missed again, but got in foal on her fourth breeding and is due in June.
“The day I picked her up I remember I was told she was a bully in the field and she had everybody scared to death,” said Cromer. “But she changed as she’s gotten older. She’s nice in the stall, but she can be pretty feisty. I can see where her foals, Runnin’toluvya especially, can be hard to deal with. But she’s fine.”
Brown gets boost from broodmares
Ronney Brown, perennially a top trainer at Charles Town, has about 15 broodmares and buys a couple at the sales each year, as the older ones retire. Moon Map is one of his recent purchases.
The daughter of Malibu Moon was offered by Country Life Farm at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale. Because of her sire, and that she was in foal to Country Life’s young stallion Mosler, Brown thought “we may get lucky” with the then-9-year-old mare and brought her home for $3,000.
The mare’s only foal of racing age at the time, 2-year-old Cal Nation gelding Threethehardway, was already a winner. Her yearling, a son of Super Ninety Nine sold for $2,000 that year, turned out to be stakes-placed Tommy Shelby, a winner of three races and $111,596 in seven starts last year at 2.
Moon Map delivered a Mosler filly last April, was bred to Exclusive Quality and is due in late April. A year ago, Brown purchased Exclusive Quality, a son of Elusive Quality, to stand at he and his wife Nicole’s Pellinor Lane Farm in Charles Town.
Brown had high hopes for the stallion, and has 10 mares in foal to him, but lost the 16-year-old last summer after a breeding accident. He had covered 15 mares. Original Gold, due in late March, was the first to get in foal. “My friend [Francis W. Daniel III] bred her but I bought her and raced her,” said Brown of 20-year-old Original Gold. “We won the Cavada twice. She won once with [Ramon] Dominguez from the 10 hole. That was really exciting. He didn’t ride much here.”
Since 2008, the Slavic mare has produced five foals – her first, stakes-placed Golden Debutante (by Malibu Moon), is also in foal to Exclusive Quality.
Seeking to replace Exclusive Quality, Brown purchased former Northview stallion Bullsbay, a Grade 1-winning son of Tiznow. The majority of the Browns’ mares will be bred to him.
A new Wardrobe
Jean Rofe and her late husband, renowned veterinarian Calvin Rofe, established many lasting relationships in Virginia – among them a longtime friendship with Bert and Diana Firestone. And that’s why Rofe owns stakes producer Wardrobe.
“Bert Firestone gave her to me,” said Rofe of the 14-year-old daughter of War Chant and Rum Charger (Ire). “When my husband was alive, he did all their vet work and we were good friends for quite awhile. Back in the days when Genuine Risk was running; General Assembly and all those.”
The Firestones bred Wardrobe, a half-sister to their Grade 1-winning millionaire Winchester and multiple graded stakes winner Middleburg, and bred her first five foals, including stakes winner Armoire, who raced for the couple. The mare’s 2019 steeplechase stakes winner, Dapper Dan, was sold as a yearling. Since 2016 Wardrobe has produced three foals for Rofe.
“One we are waiting to run this spring on the grass [the Horse Greeley gelding Percolate] and one just turned 3 [the Despite the Odds gelding Auburn Mill],” said Rofe. “They are really late-developing horses. If it’s my horse and it takes me four years to get them to the races, I don’t really care.” Rofe has a yearling colt out of Wardrobe by her stallion Grand Reserve, a stakes winner also bred and campaigned by the Firestones.
“I was hoping we could get a colt out of her, and that’s what we got,” she said. “He’s a big, nice-looking foal. He was late [born June 2] and you’d think he’d be the runt of the run but he’s not. He’s as big as anything out there.”
The mare was bred to Irish War Cry, but didn’t get in foal, and will return to the son of Curlin this year.
“She’s a big mare – well-bodied and pretty good conformation,” said Rofe. Now based on the old Hickory Tree Farm in Middleburg, Va., Rofe has had another relationship come full circle.
“It’s a beautiful farm,” Rofe said. “I remember when the Millses [James and his wife Alice duPont] had it, going back to Devil’s Bag [whom Calvin Rofe inspected at the yearling sale prior to their purchase of the future champion in 1982]. It’s just been an ideal situation for us. We’ve been very fortunate. The Virginia-certified program has brought a new life to the horse industry in Virginia. We have many weanlings and many yearlings because of that program. It’s been a good boost for the business.”
The Girls of Northview PA
Pennsylvania-bred Grand Prix was already a notable mare – thanks to two stakes wins, $225,996 in earnings and Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award-winning half-sister Finest City – before she graced last month’s cover with her flashy Mendelssohn filly.
“She lives in Kentucky most of the year, but was here to foal and delivered a big, strong filly that was one of the first Mendelssohns,” said Tim Fazio, general manager of Northview Stallion Station’s Pennsylvania division. “It was her first foal, but she took right to it. She’s a great mother and took it all in stride.”
Grand Prix made 18 starts for breeder Hank Nothhaft’s HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing, winning four including a maiden special weight at Golden Gate Fields in California and two stakes in Pennsylvania. The daughter of Tale of the Cat joined the Nothhaft breeding program, which typically uses Northview as a foaling site for mares bred to Kentucky stallions. Grand Prix fits right in. “She can be a little bit pushy sometimes,” said Fazio, who quickly called that a positive. “She’s got that racehorse mentality and I think the best broodmares are usually tough. They have to have that toughness, just like people. You can’t get by on sheer talent sometimes. It’s a trait people don’t talk about as much when they’re breeding – the will or the want to actually do their jobs, to have that heart. You can see it in some horses.” Dan McConnell’s mare Lucky Notion is a Northview fixture with foals by farm stallions Redeemed, El Padrino and Uncle Lino the last few years and the success of her Pennsylvania-bred son Prince Lucky (a multiple graded stakes winner by Corinthian).
She was expecting a foal by Goldencents this year and was potentially headed back to that Kentucky stallion while her 2-year-old filly Katesaluckygirl, by Uncle Lino, was following Prince Lucky’s footsteps to trainer Todd Pletcher. For Fazio and everyone at Northview, the success is special.
“We have a lot of mares that come for the season and go home, and we have some that live here year-round too,” he said. “It’s natural to get an attachment to the mares that live here. You get to know them more. For us, Lucky Notion was this little Great Notion mare we all loved and then she had a good horse. She has that solid, big-bodied frame and gives it to her foals.”
Another resident mare, Elena Says Hello, lost her “husband” when Jump Start passed away in May last year. The daughter of Harlan’s Holiday had four foals by the regional leader and Northview pillar: stakes-placed 4-year-old Jump for Alex, 3-year-old filly Jumpintoaction (second in her debut last fall), unraced 2-year-old Eddie’s Charge and a January filly this year. She’s been bred back to Hoppertunity, which is the end of one era but perhaps the start of a new one.
For owner Ed Stone, who died at age 100 last year, Massachusetts-bred Elena Says Hello won once in six starts at Suffolk Downs before being injured in her sixth (a $5,000 claimer) and retired as a 3-year-old filly. Now owned by Stone’s son Bob, she’s come a long way.
“I started here in August 2014, and she got here the next breeding season,” said Fazio. “She’d been at the racetrack, gotten hurt – she walked off the trailer, and she looked like a yearling. But she got in foal and thrived at it. She’s still small, but she’s totally different now. Her babies are all good-sized and she’s a great mother.” – Joe Clancy