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Black Rock to Disperse at KEEJAN


Hip 668 | Blake-Albina

By Christie DeBernardis

Just two months after Nat Rea of Regis Farms dispersed his stock at the Keeneland November sale to pursue opportunities in the oil business, that same industry has lured away the head of another growing breeding and racing operation. Steven Marshall of Black Rock Thoroughbreds has decided to sell off most of his stock at this week’s Keeneland January sale to focus on his duties as founder and president of Western Energies Production.

“Horse racing has been a passion for me and required a lot of focus as well,” Marshall remarked. “It has always been a business. I came from the oil business and with the price of oil where it is, it is really time for me to put my chips back on the table and more importantly my focus on the oil business. So, I made the decision over the last couple months and I’m really going to focus my energies back in oil.”

Marshall is also selling his Versailles, Kentucky farm, but he is not getting out of the game completely as he will still retain part ownership in undefeated 2015 GIII Withers S. winner Far From Over (Blame), who was sidelined with an injury following that win. He also still owns a share of his 2012 GI CashCall Futurity S. winner Violence (Medaglia d’Oro), who stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale, and will keep one broodmare he has become especially fond of named Wonder Lady (Deputy Minister), who has two offspring in the dispersal.

“We will keep our stallion prospect named Far From Over, who got injured on the Derby trail,” Marshall said. “He is on his way back to the racetrack and we will continue to own and race him. He will come back in the spring.”

The 47-year-old added, “We still own a major stake in our stallion Violence. I’ll spend my time watching those babies run. I think at this point, it’s a good time for a pause. I am sure that we will forever be somewhat involved in racing. You’ll likely see me back as a farm owner when the time is right and when I have time to focus on it. ”

Blake-Albina will consign the 15-head dispersal, which includes nine broodmares (six of whom are in foal to Violence), five yearlings and one stallion prospect.

“[Partner Nick Sallusto and I] purchased Violence as a yearling for Mr. Marshall and he raced him and retired and retained a portion of him as a stud, so we have a lot of preference towards the stallion,” said Hanzly Albina, who along with Sallusto co-managed all aspects of Marshall’s operation including racing, breeding and sales. “He’s a beautiful horse. A lot of these mares work very well on the cross and size, and the physical attributes are a good match.”

Of the five yearlings, Albina believes Hip 668, a Violence filly out of Wonder Lady, is the star of the group. Wonder Lady is a half-sister to MGISW Pure Clan (Pure Prize) and MGSW Greater Good (Intidab). She also has already produced a stakes-winning filly in Yes She’s a Lady (Yes It’s True).

“The Wonder Lady foal is an outstanding example of Violence,” Albina commented. “Wonder Lady had a half-million-dollar Unbridled’s Song filly sell two years ago [at Keeneland September] named Dontwasteurpretty. She is also from the Pure Clan family, which is a very nice family.”

The Black Rock dispersal also includes a half-brother to GSW Funny Proposition (Medaglia d’Oro) in Hip 453, a Violence colt out of Humorous Miss (Distorted Humor–Starry Miss, by Star de Naskra), who precedes her son into the ring as Hip 452 and is back in foal to Violence.

“The Violence–Humorous Miss is a half to a Grade II winner by Medaglia d’Oro, so we know the cross works and that’s a very nice horse,” Albina offered.

The other three yearlings in the dispersal are Hip 373, a Take Charge Indy filly out of Citizen Emma (Proud Citizen–Kamaal, by Irgun), who is catalogued as Hip 372; Hip 404, a Violence filly out of Easy Action (Crafty Prospector–Tipsy Girl, by Raise a Cup), who sells as Hip 403; and Hip 574, a Violence filly out of Ready Love (More Than Ready–He Loves Me, by Not for Love), who is offered as Hip 573.

Ready Love, who sells in foal to Majesticperfection, is one of just two mares in the group not in foal to Violence.

“The plan was to alternate some mares,” Albina said. “We didn’t want to have all the mares in foal to Violence in one year. We really like Majesticperfection as a sire and we thought he was on the upswing. We actually booked that mating prior to the [GI Kentucky] Oaks [won by Lovely Maria {Majesticperfection}], so we are obviously very happy with that.”

The other mare not in foal to Violence is Forbidden Kiss (Touch Gold–Rabiadella, by Dynaformer), who sells as Hip 424 and is in foal to top turf sire Kitten’s Joy. Her dam is a MGSW and she is a half to three black-type winners.

“Forbidden Kiss has been a very fruitful mare for us,” Albina remarked. “She foaled our first stakes horse we produced off the farm, Can’t Happen Here. He is a Desert Party we sold post sale and he went on to be [GSP at Keeneland in the GIII Bourbon S.]. She also had a Macho Uno [named Silver Romeo] who sold for $185,000 as a yearling [at KEESEP] and went on to sell for $370,000 as a 2-year-old [at OBSAPR]. He’s made a few starts, but hasn’t won yet.”

As for the stallion choice, Albina said, “We really like Kitten’s Joy. We’ve had some really good luck with him. We sold one of his (A Shin Kildare) for half a million dollars out of a mare called Bala (With Approval) [Hip 694], who is also in the sale. She’s a nice With Approval mare and the dam of a GISP filly. We wanted to switch it up a bit for a little variety.”

The physical standout of the broodmare contingent is another offspring of Wonder Lady, the 4-year-old Blue Bird Lady (Congrats), who is offered as Hip 707. The unraced chestnut, who is carrying her first foal by Violence, was bred by Black Rock.

“Blue Bird Lady was a yearling we decided to keep,” Albina remarked. “She is a very beautiful Congrats filly. We had a price on her as a yearling and if we didn’t get it, we were just going to race her. She had some issues and we just decided to retire her and breed her. She has the look of a broodmare. She is just a beautiful filly. She will be one of the standouts physically at the sale, especially being from the Pure Clan family. I think she will do very well.”

Another notable member of the broodmare band is the 6-year-old Citizen Emma. A $72,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by Black Rock, the bay showed early promise under the care of trainer Todd Pletcher, but was retired after two starts at Saratoga.

“Citizen Emma, we bought her as a yearling, and she actually was a really talented racehorse,” offered Albina. “She was in Todd Pletcher’s barn and he considered her one of his best young horses. She made her first start at Saratoga and finished second. She had a lot of talent, but like a lot of them faced some issues. She is a beautiful bodied filly and had talent, but was just unlucky and I think she will make a great broodmare.”

Not only will Citizen Emma be followed into the ring by her Take Charge Indy filly, but she foaled earlier than expected and will now enter the sales ring with her newborn Violence filly at her side.

“Citizen Emma had a filly by Violence [Jan. 6], so she will have a foal by her side,” Albina said. “People will be able to see what they are getting into before they spend their money.”

Thisonesforricky (Empire Maker–Fabulous Ballet, by Moscow Ballet) is catalogued as Hip 627 in foal to Violence. She is a half-sister to GISW Leave Me Alone (Bold Badgett), who produced “TDN Rising Star” and 2015 GI Spinaway S. runner-up Tap To It (Tapit).

Thisonesforricky | Blake-Albina

Thisonesforricky | Blake-Albina

“She is a beautiful Empire Maker mare and I think she should do well too,” Albina commented. “She is very nice physically and I think with Empire Maker returning to the United States it will make her even more desirable.”

The other Black Rock broodmare on offer is the 5-year-old Crafty Sarah (Crafty Friend–Shine on Sarah, by Secreto), who sells as Hip 391 in foal to Violence.

Rounding out the dispersal is 8-year-old stallion prospect Silver Medallion (Badge of Silver–Another Vegetarian, by Stalwart). A half-brother to GISW Sweet Talker (Stormin Fever), Hip 719 is a three-time Grade III winner, with two of those victories coming for Black Rock and Pletcher.

“He’s just been turned out. Mr. Marshall has had him in a paddock behind his house here,” Albina said. “He has been living the good life being turned out and we wanted to try and get him a good home and a second career. We had a couple offers [to stand him], but they weren’t enough money and at the time Mr. Marshall would rather have him at the farm than stand him just anywhere. Now, it’s a different situation. He’s dispersing his stock, so it’s a different situation than before. We actually toyed with standing him here, but standing a stallion in Kentucky is very tough.”

As is evident from the quality of this dispersal, Marshall’s Black Rock Thoroughbreds enjoyed quite a bit of success in its short six-year run, which he credits to Albina, Sallusto and Ron Blake. Marshall may be closing the book on breeding for a while, but he still plans to keep his foot in the door of the racing industry.

“We’ve had a tremendous run,” Marshall remarked. “It’s been a great experience for me even in the hardships with some of the bigger horses getting hurt. The city of Lexington and the state of Kentucky has treated my family and I tremendously and we have had nothing but a great experience. One of the key pieces of everything that we’ve done is Todd Pletcher. We have been very fortunate to have the best trainers in the world, but specifically Todd Pletcher has been a great gift. Most of the credit goes to Nick Sallusto, Hanzly Albina and Ron Blake. Those guys have done a tremendous job and the team that we have put together has just been second to none. The reason for our success in a relatively short amount of time is those guys, who have become family.”


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