By Jessica Martini
Kris and Lorenzo Del Guidice lived out the dream of every small breeder when Shang Shang Shang (Shanghai Bobby) gritted out a dramatic victory in the G2 Norfolk S. at Royal Ascot some four months ago. Now two-for-two, the juvenile filly will put her unbeaten record on the line in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Two days later, her dam Yankee Victoria (Yankee Victor) (hip 151) and her weanling half-sister by Paynter (hip 53) will go through the sales ring at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale through the Baccari Bloodstock consignment, but the weekend will be bittersweet for Kris Del Guidice. Her husband Lorenzo, who purchased Yankee Victoria in 2016, passed away in September.
“This is all my husband’s doing,” Del Guidice said of Yankee Victoria’s addition to the couple’s small Ocala-based broodmare band. “He was looking for something in foal to Shanghai Bobby. He had been to Keeneland that winter and, for our money, he couldn’t find anything. The quality just wasn’t there for the money. So he came home and he said, ‘I’m going to OBS. I’ll find something over there.’ He searched the books and he found her. Yankee Victoria is a very beautiful mare.”
Lorenzo was willing to go to $40,000 for the then-11 year old mare in foal to champion juvenile Shanghai Bobby, but he was able to walk out of an OBS with what, even then, seemed a bargain.
“He thought he’d have to give anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 for her,” Del Guidice said. “So when he got her for $17,000, we were a little surprised.”
When Shang Shang Shang was born a few months later, it was apparent she had inherited her mother’s placid disposition.
“We used to call her Bobby Buffalo because she was so furry and hairy,” Del Guidice said with a laugh. “She was a little non-descript dark bay filly, very laid back. Her mom was very sweet and laid back and she was the same way.”
The youngster quickly rewarded her breeders when topping the 2017 OBS Winter Mixed Sale with a final bid of $110,000 from William Heiligbrodt’s East Hickman Racing.
“When she was the sale topper, we were pleasantly surprised, of course,” Del Guidice recalled. “She was a nicely put together little filly. We had a $40,000 reserve on her, so when she hit that, Lorenzo said, ‘That’s a legitimate bid, let’s go.’ We were out back at OBS and he wouldn’t even look up at the monitor. I said, ‘Hold on. They are still bidding on her. Look, she’s at $50,000, $60,000.’ And he thinks I’m lying and he won’t turn his head to look. When I told him she was at $100,000, he really thought I was lying. He finally said, ‘You’re not kidding?’ We were both shaking by then. When she went to $110,000, we were just staring at each other.”
Del Guidice continued, “I’ve been on the racetrack my whole life, that’s where I actually met Lorenzo, at a racetrack in Cleveland. That’s something you pretty much dream about. You always dream, why not us some day? You never know. And being such a small breeder, we only have three mares, so that was a really nice deal for us.”
Returned to the sales ring at OBS the following March, Shang Shang Shang sold to Sam Ross and Mike Hall’s Breeze Easy for $200,000. A debut winner at Keeneland in April for trainer Wesley Ward, the filly earned an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint when she outbattled Pocket Dynamo (Dialed In) for a nose victory in the Norfolk (video).
“I had guys putting in new counter tops and as the race was going on, we were screaming,” Del Guidice recalled of watching the Norfolk from her home in Ocala. “Those guys, their eyes were bugging out of their heads. They didn’t know what was going on. When it was all said and done, I said, ‘That filly that just won this race in England, her mother and her little sister are literally standing outside the window.'”
Lorenzo, meanwhile, had already left to open the couple’s nearby Roma Italian Restaurant.
“My husband called me and he was out of breath and he said he was going to have a heart attack. His health was not very good and I said, ‘Seriously are you okay?’ He was so excited.”
Asked if it was a difficult decision for the couple to sell Yankee Victoria, Del Guidice was succinct.
“No,” she said. “I am very sentimental, but I also know opportunity knocks once. Especially, being a small breeder, we didn’t have to sell her, but it turned out to be a good decision since my husband passed away.”
The 66-year-old Del Guidice has spent a lifetime involved with racehorses.
“I always had a riding horse, since I was 10 years old,” she said. “When I was growing up in Ohio, there were only two Thoroughbred farms. I worked at both of them. And the second one I worked at, all of the horses were leaving to go to the racetrack. I was 20 or 21 and they asked me if I wanted to stay on the farm and clean stalls or did I want to go the racetrack. And I thought, ‘Really? I’ll see you later!’ When I went to the racetracks and I saw people getting paid to pony, I thought, ‘You have got to be kidding me.’ I didn’t know anything about the racetrack, but they wouldn’t have had to pay me if I just got to ride my horse all day. I started out grooming, hotwalking, ponying, training. I did it all. I love the racetrack. I just absolutely love it. But that’s a whole other time ago.”
As Del Guidice juggles the responsibilities of the restaurant and the couple’s adopted son, she expects to disband her breeding stock.
“I just have too much on my plate,” she said. “We adopted a little boy and he’s just seven, so my days are filled with homework and we have this restaurant going and this bar going. I’m just spinning in the wind from everything right now, so I’m not going to breed anymore. There are two other mares standing there in foal and three weanlings, so hopefully I can get them sold.”
Chris Baccari will be handling the consignment of Yankee Victoria and her weanling filly at the Fasig-Tipton sale.
“I’ve known Chris for quite a long time,” Del Guidice said. “We always send our mares up there to be bred. He always took care of all of that for us. So I am really comfortable with him. That helps.”
Yankee Victoria will sell in foal to Cupid. Her weanling filly will walk into the sales ring bolstered by recent stakes winners for her young sire Paynter, including Knicks Go, who won the Oct. 6 GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and goes postward in Friday’s GI Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile.
“She has a completely different temperament from Shang Shang,” Del Guidice said of the weanling. “She is kind of a witch. Out of the same mare and I’m just telling you how sweet the mare is, but she didn’t get her mare’s temperament.”
Looking ahead to the sale, Del Guidice admitted, “I’m so nervous and I’m so excited. And it’s really bittersweet because Lorenzo won’t be there.”
The Fasig-Tipton November sale will be held Sunday in Lexington, with bidding scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.