Saturday, June 9th, 2012 is a day the co-owners of Desert Blanc (GB) will never forget. There are only 117 Grade 1 races run in the U.S. each year and to win one is to have reached the pinnacle of the sport of racing. The Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap was inaugurated in 1887 there is some remarkable history in this 125 year old race only adding to the prestige.
Desert Blanc went off at odds of 6-1 and broke much sharper than in his U.S. debut, tucking in on the rail behind the front runners. Ramon Dominguez remained on hold down the backstretch, biding his time for the perfect moment to ask Desert Blanc to use his powerful turn of foot. He commenced his stretch drive two wide and Desert Blanc responded positively when given his cue. He fought with vigor between rivals from the furlong marker until the sixteenth pole and continued to fight with the runner up Papaw Bodie until the wire, once getting the lead he dug in with true grit to preserve it. As the heads bobbed up and down on the wire the Desert Blanc crew wasn’t sure if they had won or not until I got a better look at the replay and decided “we got it”! Then the group exploded down to the winners circle! When the group arrived the famous Joe Torre, the longtime Yankees manager was waiting to present the trophy. No one was more excited than our trainer Chad Brown, a native New Yorker and a longtime New York Yankees fan. Lisa Callaghan friends of co-owner Kris Kruid, is also a huge Yankees fan and both were star struck by the experience.
How it all came together
I found Desert Blanc in France after watching the tapes of another horse I was looking into purchasing. He looked impressive on his tapes and from the photos. When I inquired about him, I found out that he made a noise when he breathes and he had failed the vet on a sale for Hong Kong. It didn’t make sense to me that a horse that finishes like a rocket in a 10 furlong race had a breathing problem. I actually worked on buying the horse for almost two months, and even though I needed no convincing that there was not a wind issue, I had a dynamic endoscopic procedure done.In this procedure the horse’s airway is examined while galloping by placing an endoscope inside the horse’s nostril and down into the airway to record the function of the throat during exercise. His airway could not have been better. Hong Kong’s loss is certainly our gain! I sent Melanie Sauer, who had been an intern with me during her stint as a Darley Flying Starter, over to Pascal Bary’s barn in France and she confirmed he was a very nice horse.
Once I had secured the horse I sent out an email to thirty of my clients who had been in various Bradley Thoroughbreds partnerships before. I guess it made an impression because within 48 hours the venture was oversubscribed. In the email I noted that I wanted to point DB towards the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap and thought he had the talent to win it. It’s rare that horses follow the script you write for them but, in this case, Desert Blanc did. Ten different interests are involved in this BT partnership, four of which are also owners of our other superstar Dayatthespa.
From the Co-Owner’s Perspective
I asked two co-owners, David and Susie Mackie of Mackie Racing, how it felt to win a Grade 1 at Belmont. They said, “It was surreal in the sense that everyone knows that you don’t win Grade 1 races on Belmont Stakes day or any other day. That’s for the privileged few. But you could see it happening and the look of determination on the horse’s face and the way he was pushing his neck and head forward and down to get another few inches it was obvious he knew where the wire was and he wasn’t going to be denied. It felt like a huge locomotive surging right up through your body.”
Kris Kruid, also a co-owner of Dayatthespa, made the trip up to Belmont as well. She said, “Desert Blanc’s Grade 1 win was an extreme thrill – my first G1! I was amazed to see the full force of his determination in his every stride. I loved the way he pinned back his ears and pulled the finish line to his nose. It was great to celebrate with our group of co-owners! It was especially heartfelt to be there with my dear friend Lisa. This was her very first horse race and, thanks to the team at Bradley Thoroughbreds, it was an extraordinary day. Looks like she is our good luck charm!”
Hopefully this will not be the last Grade 1 these co-owners celebrate. Desert Blanc is pointing towards the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont on July 14th and the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 18th. Stay tuned!