Pete Bradley cut his teeth in the Thoroughbred business in his native California, first walking hots and eventually becoming an assistant trainer on the Southern California circuit, where he acquired a love for turf racing. That knowledge has stood him in very good stead in his second career as a successful bloodstock agent based in Lexington.
Bradley doesn’t just buy and sell horses. He remains in for a piece of many of them, which landed him in the winner’s circle back at Santa Anita Park last year when eventual Eclipse Award winner Dayatthespa, owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Steve Laymon, and Jerry and Ronald Frankel, went wire-to-wire in winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
The Filly & Mare Turf was Dayatthespa’s last start, as she sold for $2.1 million to Barbara Banke at the Fasig-Tipton November sale and was bred to Curlin for 2016. This year, Bradley is back in that race with two contenders as he goes for a rare double.
“It would be unbelievable to win this race back-to-back,” said the personable Bradley. “It’s incredible just to run in it two years in a row. You pinch yourself when you’re able to get to races like this.”
Bradley, who buys a considerable amount of stock in Europe, turned an eye toward South America and fished out 2014 Chilean champion 2-year-old filly, winner of three group I races and a pair of group III events in her native country. The daughter of Scat Daddy, has been in North America since early this year. Under the tutelage of trainer Chad Brown, she made her U.S. debut in the Ketel One Ballston Spa Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course, winning by a head over Tepin. That rival would go on to soar clear by seven lengths in the Oct. 3 First Lady Stakes (gr. IT), and is pointing toward a start against males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT).
“I’ve been looking at fillies from South America for 10 years, but this is the first one I pulled the trigger on,” Bradley said. “She showed an exceptional turn of foot and set stakes records in Chile, and her being by Scat Daddy didn’t hurt, although he wasn’t as hot last December when I bought her as he is now.”
Dacita was given six months to acclimate once she came north, a lesson learned by Bradley back in his California days.
“Seeing Ron McAnally and Charlie Whittingham and Henry Moreno back then, they always said five months minimum or you’re wasting your time with South American imports,” said Bradley. “California was the mecca for turf racing back in the ’70s and ’80s, and I learned a lot watching those guys out there.”
Dacita, bred by Haras Paso Nevado in Chile, is owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Sheep Pond Partners (Jay Hanley and Sol Kumin, who own turf star Lady Eli, sold to them by Bradley); and Tim and Anna Cambron, who came into Thoroughbred ownership at the right time: Dacita is their first racehorse. “She is a serious filly,” said Bradley. “She might be every bit as good as Dayatthespa. Her races in Chile were very impressive.”
Dacita has won seven of her 10 lifetime races, finishing off the board just once.
Bradley’s other hope in the Filly and Mare Turf is veteran 5-year-old Watsdachances, who ran second to Flotilla back in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT). Watsdachances gained her first grade I victory when she was placed first in the Aug. 15 Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) after finishing second behind Secret Gesture, whom she will face again in the Breeders’ Cup.
Irish-bred Watsdachances (Diamond Green out of High Finance) is a millionaire and five-time stakes winner who has been lightly raced throughout her career by Brown. She has never been worse than fourth in her 19 starts.
“She’s had a couple of setbacks here and there,” noted Bradley, “but she’s been very good this year. She’s as game a racehorse as I’ve ever been around. She never runs a bad race. She may not always get there, but it’s not for lack of trying. From a pure satisfaction standpoint she is such a genuine racehorse that I felt better for her winning the grade I than I did for myself.”
Bradley Thoroughbreds owns Watsdachances with Nelson McMakin and Mike Kisber, the latter being the lead owner. Watsdachances this season has won the Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT), was an unlucky second in the Dance Smartly Stakes (gr. IIT), won the Beverly D., and ran fourth in a bog at Belmont Park in the Flower Bowl Stakes (gr. IT).
“Somebody said she was born in a bog and should like running in one, but that was too deep and heavy,” Bradley said.
Following the template he established last year with Dayatthespa, Bradley has entered Watsdachances in the same auction and she will sell the day after the World Championships.
“She’s a beautiful mare who has made a million dollars, certainly a seven-figure mare in my mind,” said Bradley. “All you need is the right two people to like her.”
Dacita will be kept in training next year. Bradley also has Last Waltz pre-entered in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, which would be her first U.S. start; and Ray’s The Bar in the Juvenile Turf (gr. IT). He co-owns each. Seems that California education is coming in very handy these days.
Written by Lenny Shulman of the Blood-Horse