By Jessica Martini
Jack McShane, who along with his wife Kelly, has campaigned three stakes-placed runners in his three years in the racing business, admitted he was having dreams of that first stakes winner after the impressive debut performance of ‘TDN Rising Star’ Mr Paytience (Paynter) Sunday at Santa Anita.
“Absolutely, we are hoping he can take us to that next level,” McShane said Monday. “Those were the dreams I had last night.”
McShane was a longtime racing fan well before he even considered becoming a racehorse owner.
“I started going to the races back when I was in high school in Santa Monica,” he recalled. “We would go to Hollywood Park right after lunch in high school and then I just kept going. I met my wife in high school and her family used to go to the racetrack, too. So when we were dating, we went to the racetrack. After we got married, we went to Del Mar and we took our vacations there every year. It was always a drive to be around the horses–normally it was just betting them. I never thought of actually purchasing horses.”
A career in the restaurant industry blossomed into a food-safety audit company, the sale of which paved the path for the couple’s involvement in racing.
“I worked my way up the ladder and was an executive for restaurant chains throughout the United States,” McShane said. “Then I came up with this business idea of Everclean. They have grades in the windows of restaurants all over the country and that started in 1998 in Los Angeles. I started a company that would guarantee that the restaurants would keep the A [rating] and that triggered a business that, in 1999, we did 100 audits, and when we sold it in 2012, we were up to 200,000.”
McShane Racing was formed in the wake of the sale of Everclean Services and three years later, the operation had its first taste of black-type when Paynes Prairie (Tale of Ekati) was second in the 2015 Tremont S. Another one of its first acquisitions was a daughter of Colonel John (hip 1021) purchased for $145,000 at that year’s OBS June sale. The filly, Everqueen, was third in the 2016 Beverly J. Lewis S. at Los Alamitos, while Go On Mary (Broken Vow), a $40,000 OBS April graduate (hip 555) in 2016, was third in last year’s Sweet Life S. at Santa Anita.
As the couple’s experience in the game increased, McShane found himself applying some of the same lessons he’d learned in the restaurant industry to the racing business.
“Some of the same principles [from the business] applied to our racing operation,” he said. “I hired a lot of really smart people to have around me. The same thing goes for this industry. You’ve got to have people that are smart. When you are talking about the O’Neill brothers, Doug and Dennis, and you’re talking about the people they hire and surround themselves with, it’s pretty exciting stuff.”
It was bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill who steered McShane towards the purchase of Mr Paytience (hip 402) at this year’s OBS March sale.
“Dennis O’Neill and [trainer Doug O’Neill’s operations manager] Steve Rothblum looked at the horse and they really liked that he was a Cal-bred,” McShane said of the colt, who was purchased for $90,000. “They sort of guided me in that direction.”
Expectations were high for the colt as he went to the post for the first time Sunday, but it’s safe to say he exceeded expectations with his supremely easy 7 3/4-length victory in the 4 1/2-furlong race.
“Doug’s assistant trainer, Stephanie Murray, loves the horse,” McShane said. “I had gone out the last three weeks to watch
Mr Paytience breeze and he just looked so comfortable. They put blinkers on him a couple of weeks ago and it made all the difference in the world for him.”
Of the juvenile’s romping victory, McShane admitted, “I was shocked. It was so easy and he had such a beautiful stride. We really believed when we purchased him at the OBS sale that he was a good-looking, two-turn horse. So for him to win so easily this early, that is the best part about it.”
McShane Racing currently has a stable of six horses, four of whom are juveniles.
“We are really comfortable with the six and I definitely want to keep it under 10,” he said of the stable size. “The one thing that I’ve learned over the last three years, is that you need a horse or two to carry the barn. You can’t go in and try to get one or two horses. It doesn’t work. You need more than two and we are trying to keep it less than 10.”
Among the current roster is an unraced 2-year-old McShane is already excited about, a colt by Morning Line out of Sierra Vista (GB) (hip 24) who was purchased for $130,000 at OBS in March.
“His name is Stubbins,” McShane said. “We have high expectations for him. He’s been working great at San Luis Rey and the barn loves him.”
While most of McShane Racing’s prospects are purchased as
2-year-olds, the operation did make one yearling purchase last year.
“I bought one yearling and I bought her because she was out of the same dam [Text Queen] as my first successful horse, Everqueen,” McShane said. “I bought her at the Saratoga Yearling Sale [hip 83] and paid $150,000 for her. It was sort of an emotional purchase. We’ll see how that works out.”
He added with a laugh, “I am absolutely, from this point forward, only buying 2-year-olds.”
With his grown children living states apart, racing has become a family-bonding activity for the McShanes.
“We are enjoying the excitement of the races, the excitement of continuing to come down to Del Mar and have our family vacationing there,” he said. “My daughter lives in New York and my son lives in Los Angeles, they are older now, so it’s kind of keeping the family together, going to the races.”
As for where Mr Paytience will make his next start, McShane said, “I am going to see Doug [Tuesday] at San Luis Rey and we’ll talk about where he’ll go next, but he came out of the race really, really great. My wife and I went to see him after the race and he still had a lot of energy.”