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Bradley Thoroughbreds’ Racing Ventures Featured in TDN

With the costs of keeping a Thoroughbred racehorse too high for most individuals to burden, many of those wishing to get involved in racing in recent years have opted to invest in partnerships. Syndicates like Team Valor International, West Point Thoroughbreds and Dogwood Stable have done their parts to prove how successful these ventures can be in both producing top- class racehorses and in introducing new owners to the game. This year, however, has seen the rise of another racing partnership group. When Watsdachances (Ire) (Diamond Green {Fr}) stormed to victory in Monday’s Miss Grillo S.on the Belmont turf, she made it clear that the Bradley Thoroughbreds racing ventures mean business.

 

Watsdachances Winning the G3 Miss Grillo Stakes

Pete Bradley, a bloodstock agent based in Lexington, Kentucky, has been trading horses for almost 20 years, and has been involved in the sales of horses such as multiple Grade I winner and champion broodmare Windsharp; Dream Rush, a multiple Grade I winner and dam of standout juvenile Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy); and Easter Bunnette, dam of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. In the last few years, Bradley has increased his involvement in setting up racing partnerships and, in 2012, Bradley Thoroughbreds and its co-owners have experienced a banner year, campaigning the likes of GI Manhattan S. winner Desert Blanc (GB) (Desert Style {Ire}); Dayatthespa (City Zip), who is unbeaten this year and will contest today’s GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, and now Watsdachances, who is two-for-two in America for trainer Chad Brown since being imported from Ireland, where she broke her maiden for trainer Ger Lyons in April. Bradley explained it was that six-length victory, combined with the form from her debut effort, that persuaded him to roll the dice with the Irish-bred.

“Watsdachances was a good third first out in Ireland, and the first four horses from that race all came back and won, so right there it looked like it was a decent group,” Bradley explained. “Her second race was a maiden race, which she won at a relatively small track called Navan, but she won by six lengths and she showed a very good turn of foot. The going was soft that day, and I usually don’t buy horses out of races with soft going, but in this case with her turn of foot I thought she was worth taking a punt on. The price was right, so it made sense to take a shot with her.”

Bradley explained that, while buying horses from Europe is nothing new for him, he has had to change the way he does business in recent years. “I’ve been buying horses out of Europe for almost 20 years, and doing little racing partnerships here and there, “Bradley said. “As a rule I bought horses for [individuals], and then over the last five or six years it became more difficult to buy horses out of Europe. More of them were getting sucked into the racing carnival in Dubai, and the Euro went up against the dollar. So I really didn’t [buy many horses out of Europe] except for maybe a horse or two here or there. Then I decided that we needed to get more people into racing, and the partnerships such as Dogwood and West Point seem to be doing really well promoting our sport. So I decided to do something similar, with a bit of a twist on it.”

The focus of Bradley’s partnerships is primarily on buying fillies, although he notes that his co-owners scored a home run with Desert Blanc, a colt that Bradley picked out of France. Although the 4-year-old’s career was cut short by a tendon injury this summer, the Chad Brown charge flashed talent in two American outings, finishing second by a length in his stateside debut in the GIII Fort Marcy S. at Belmont May 5, then taking the Manhattan on that strip a month later.

Bradley explained that by campaigning mostly fillies, the co-owners in his partnerships have an easier exit strategy at the end of the horse’s career. “They have greater residual value,” he noted. “Watsdachances is now a Grade III winner. Let’s hope she wins a lot more races, but if she doesn’t, we’ve established a nice value on her as a broodmare. On the other side of the coin, a colt that wins a Grade III on the turf doesn’t have much residual value from a stallion standpoint.”

Desert Blanc After the G1 Manhattan Win

Bradley noted that there are some key factors that set his ownership ventures apart from other larger syndicates. He prefers to keep his groups small, with under 10 people involved in each horse, and no more than 15-20 horses in partnerships at any one time. To keep the costs at a minimum for his co-owners, Bradley doesn’t mark up the prices of the horses when selling shares; rather, his company takes a 5% commission of the cost of each share, in addition to 5% of profits from each horse. Each share sold is worked out on an individual basis, with some owners involved in multiple horses.

“The units in the ventures are anywhere from as low as $15,000 to as high as $100,000 per unit, depending on the horses we have,” Bradley said. “Sometimes the ventures are one single horse, sometimes we have multiple horses. For instance, Dayatthespa was in a venture that had three 2-year-olds in it. It was our New York-bred venture; we were trying to find New York-breds two years ago. The other two horses in that venture, one is at Keeneland and is trained by Tom Bush, and the other filly was claimed and is no longer in the venture.” While most syndicates campaign their horses under the name of the syndicate manager, the horses in Bradley’s racing ventures run in the silks and the names of the majority owner in the partnership. “We give recognition to the co-owners, and if they own a larger part of the horse, they get their names on the ownership label,” Bradley explained. While Bradley has a core group of clients that are involved in most of the partnerships, he noted that over the last year, some new owners have become involved. “Because we’re a small operation we can’t spend a lot on print advertising, but word of mouth is a big part of it,” Bradley said. “Contacts through other co-owners have probably been as big a way of getting clients as any.”

Bradley Thoroughbreds currently campaigns 11 horses in partnership, employing trainers Chad Brown, Tom Bush, and Michelle Nihei. Seven of those horses are 2-year-olds, and have chiefly been selected from 2-year-old sales or imported from Europe.

“I do a lot of reading of form out of Europe and in the U.S., too,” Bradley explained. “You just have to constantly keep looking. There’s certain traits I look for in horses. For turf horses, they have to have a turn of foot, and I try to find horses that are possibly just a touch under top class in Europe, or horses that are just on the way up, and make a decision as to whether they’d fit racing in the U.S.” Bradley noted that he is constantly sourcing horses to put into partnership. “I’m always looking,” he said. “There’s a chance we’re going to start another venture here within the next week with a couple horses I’ve found. It really comes down to two things: finding the right horses, and having the people who want to join you in the next venture. Like I said, there’s a core group, but it’s not like you snap your fingers with every horse and put together a new venture immediately. I don’t like to buy the horses before I know I have enough people to put the co-ownership together.”

While the future for the Bradley partnerships could be bright with so many unexposed juveniles in their arsenal, the partners are still focused on 2012, and more specifically a trip to the Breeders’ Cup with Watsdachances. “The [Miss Grillo] was a ‘Win and You’re In’ [for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf], and when the Breeders’ Cup pays for your entry, it’s hard not to go when you’ve got a filly that looks like she deserves it,” said Bradley.

And if Dayatthespa runs to her abilities in today’s QEII at Keeneland, the Bradley Thoroughbred partners could have even more to look forward to next month. “With a small number of horses, we’ve been very lucky this year,” said Bradley. “As much as I’d like to take more credit for it, it really comes down to the horses. When you have good horses, it makes it very fun to go to the races.” —by Kelsey Riley (Thoroughbred Daily News)