By Steve Sherack
DEL MAR, CA – It’s far from out of the ordinary to hear that a former jockey or, perhaps, someone with a background in finance, sales or media will be represented as an owner at this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar.
But what if we’re only talking about one person here?
Meet Jeffrey Bloom, who will have his red-and-white silks carried by a pair of live runners via Snapper Sinclair (City Zip) in Friday’s GI BC Juvenile Turf and Skye Diamonds (First Dude) in Saturday’s GI BC Filly and Mare Sprint.
“It’s kind of surreal, really,” Bloom, 53, said. “It’s just so tough to get to this level in this game. We fully appreciate it and I’m going to try and enjoy it as much as I possibly can.”
Bloom spent nine years as a professional reinsman and was also at one point a go-to exercise rider for the legendary Charlie Whittingham stable. He earned a degree in finance from San Diego State University when it was time to hang up his saddle and briefly worked as a financial analyst before hitting his stride in sales in the software technology industry.
The married father of two–both of his daughters attend the University of Arizona–returned to the racing scene full-time and headed the West Coast division of West Point Thoroughbreds for seven years before launching his own stable, Bloom Racing.
You may have also heard the native of San Diego talking racing on the radio as his loaded resume also currently includes a part-time commentating gig on the Horse Racing Radio Network.
Got all that?
“I didn’t want to have to rely on getting a job at the racetrack [after retiring as a jockey], so I went back to school and thought I’d get into investment banking,” Bloom said. “After I got my degree in finance, I had a really short run as a financial analyst, but I hated it and was going nuts. I went from being a jockey to analyzing expense reports.”
Bloom continued, “From there, I kind of backed my way into sales in the software technology world and I did really well. I ran business development for a huge engineering firm and it was going really well, but I still hated what I was doing. During that whole time, I kept my foot in the door in racing through media and marketing. I also used to do some consulting, too, and occasionally would help with buying horses. I eventually made my way back 100 percent full time.”
Bloom Racing currently has about 80 horses–including yearlings, broodmares and horses of racing age–under its portfolio. Bloom signed for eight yearlings for gross receipts of $542,000 and also later added four more post sale at the marathon Keeneland September sale.
Two-time graded winner and 2011 GI Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity S. runner-up Majestic City (City Zip); multiple stakes winner Soul Driver (Street Boss); and the multiple stakes placed Sal the Turtle (Caleb’s Posse)–fans of the popular Howard Stern Show will certainly get a kick out of the name–are among the recent standouts campaigned by Bloom’s operation.
“Bloom Racing is a full racing partnership company,” he said. “We do syndicate some horses and some of them are house horses. It’s a little bit of everything. We offer a variety of services that tie into the industry–pinhooking, bloodstock consulting, breeding, and all that kind of stuff–and we do have some clients that we buy and sell horses for as well.”
Back Where it all Began…
A single trip to the Seaside oval along with his older brother at the age of 13 was all it took for Bloom to catch the racing bug.
“I’ll never forget it–the second we walked through those gates and were heading toward the paddock, I just fell in love,” Bloom said. “I didn’t even know what horse racing was yet, but I knew that’s what I want to do.”
Without a connection in his family to racing–his dad has a background in programming as an engineer for government security systems–the small-in-stature youngster didn’t exactly have the support from his folks from the git-go.
“I came home and told my parents that’s what I wanted to do, and of course, they ignored me,” Bloom said of his plan of becoming a jockey before adding with a laugh, “until I drove them crazy.”
Persistence paid off. Bloom eventually became friendly with track steward Alfred Shelhamer, who later introduced him to the general manager of San Luis Rey Downs, the former jockey Muzzy Francis.
“I lived in a tack room to start out when I was 14-years-old and basically learned from the ground up,” Bloom said. “It was really important to Muzzy that I become a horseman first. Before I ever started getting on horses, I was a hotwalker, a groom, and a veterinary assistant, and then eventually I started the process of being trained to be a jockey. I had an extremely well-rounded education about the horse before I rode my first race at Del Mar.”
Of his 172 career victories as a rider, Bloom’s biggest win came aboard Kamp Out in the 1985 Manitoba Derby.
Claim to Fame…
Skye Diamonds, haltered by Bloom and company for just $40,000 last August, will meet her stiffest test to date in the Filly and Mare Sprint. A model of consistency since switching hands, the California-bred heads to the big dance off a pair of breakthrough victories in the GII Great Lady M S. at Los Al July 8 and the GIII Rancho Bernardo H. at Del Mar Aug. 13.
“She’s been an incredible surprise for us,” Bloom said. “Certainly far exceeded any expectations that we had going into it, and to see her continue to improve and perform at the level she’s been performing, it’s beyond a dream come true. [Trainer] Bill Spawr has clearly done an amazing job with her.”
Skye Diamonds is listed as the 5-1 second choice on the morning-line behind the very highly regarded ‘TDN Rising Star’ Unique Bella (Tapit).
“Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about Unique Bella being in there,” Bloom said. “But I wouldn’t trade places with anybody.”
Skye Diamonds, the first foal out of three-time winner Exonerated (Johannesburg), is campaigned in partnership with Allen Racing LLC, Tom Acker and Jon Lindo. The 4-year-old has been consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, Agent XXIII, as Hip 118 to Fasig-Tipton November. She was bred in the Golden State by Dizney Double Diamond LLC.
“I’ve been around horses my whole life and I was fortunate enough to get on her one morning at Del Mar,” Bloom said. “You could tell the good ones when you get on them right away. She has that thing–she’s just a fighter and has so much heart.”
And Down the Stretch They Come…
Snapper Sinclair will also head to the Championships riding a hot hand, earning his diploma in style sprinting over the Saratoga lawn at second asking and adding the seven-furlong Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile S. at Kentucky Downs Sept. 6. He is given a 15-1 chance on the morning-line for the wide-open Juvenile Turf.
“When you mentioned that horse, my smile just went from ear to ear,” Bloom said. “I haven’t been this excited about a horse or being around a horse in a long time.”
Named after the Mickey Rooney character in the 1936 film Down the Stretch, Bloom went to $180,000 to acquire the bay at the OBS April Sale (:10 1/5 breeze). He is unbeaten on grass for trainer Steve Asmussen.
“Snapper was catalogued fourth to last in the sale and he was my ‘have to have’ horse,” Bloom said. “I literally stayed because of him and had to wait it out for a day and a half. When the hammer dropped, I was just over-the-top excited. And it’s been that way from the time we got him. I don’t think we’ve gotten close to the bottom yet. I think he could be the real deal.”
Bred in Kentucky by K & G Stables, the $30,000 KEESEP graduate is out of the Yes It’s True mare True Addiction, runner-up in the 2006 GII Adirondack Breeders’ Cup S. at Saratoga.
“It’s the World Championships and we’ve got two contenders,” Bloom concluded. “You’ve got the world’s best racehorses and you’ve got all the major connections. If you’re a racing fan, this is paradise.”