Relative New Shooter ‘Meah’-ns Business

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David Meah | Keeneland photo

By Alan Carasso

Part exercise rider, part assistant trainer and part fledgling bloodstock agent who comes with a deep pedigree, 35-year-old David Meah is fast making a name for himself as a keen identifier and reseller of young horses.

Having cut his teeth as a rider under the tutelage of such prominent English trainers such as the legendary Sir Michael Stoute and James Fanshawe overseas, the British-born Meah arrived in this country for good about 15 years ago and over the last 3 1/2 years or so, has been increasingly successful on the bloodstock side of the business, figuring prominently in the purchase of horses like GISW Union Strike (Union Rags), for example. With his future every bit ahead of him, Meah celebrated a remarkable feat over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, when Mr Melody (Scat Daddy), a horse successfully pinhooked at the 2017 OBS April Sale, and Madam Dancealot (Ire) (Sir Prancealot {Ire}), acquired as a racing prospect at the Goffs Champions Sale in 2016, won graded stakes on either side of the Pacific Ocean.

Having relocated permanently to this country in 2003, Meah worked for trainers like Ben Cecil, Don Chatlos, Neil Drysdale, Ron Ellis and Doug O’Neill, giving him access to and/or galloping such horses as Golden Apples (Ire), GI Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Singletary, champion Declan’s Moon, Kentucky Derby hero I’ll Have Another and Goldencents. After seven years with the O’Neill barn, Meah found himself at a crossroads and departed that outfit to join trainer Richard Baltas. Almost simultaneously, his interest in bloodstock grew and he purchased his first yearling at auction in 2014.

“The transition to bloodstock has been kind of natural, it’s been a work in progress, but thankfully, I’ve been very, very lucky and I’ve had great backing from my clients and others,” Meah said. “John Sadler, Kosta Hronis, Pete Miller have all supported me and we’ve been fortunate to pick up some nice horses.

“I started learning some about the bloodstock side of things from Dennis O’Neill,” he added. “I wouldn’t necessarily shadow Dennis, but I’d keep an eye on him and how he does things, pick his brain every so often about how he picks out horses and things like that. Obviously, Doug has always been very influential in my career as well, he’s always pushed me as well. From the day I left, he’s always been so supportive. Richard’s first Grade I winner, Big Macher, beat Goldencents in the Bing Crosby and the first text message I got before I even got down to the winner’s circle was from Doug saying, ‘massive congrats, super proud of you. If we had to get beat, I’m happy it was by you.'”

Meah credits Baltas, a quiet force on the Southern California circuit, with making him a better overall horseman.

“Since I’ve been working for Richard, I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “He’s a very hands-on guy and he’s taught me a hell of a lot. He took me under his wing and has really helped and push and encourage me to reach for better every day. Richard has helped build the bloodstock business, given him some of his clients, has told them that ‘David buys my horses.’ And it works the other way–if I run into clients or friends–I’ve always said that Richard is one of the best trainers around. If you want to be out there competing in the nice races, I think he can get the horses to the top level. I strongly believe we have such a strong team that it’s a great spot I’m in and we work really great together.”

It was on behalf of first-time client, George Yeager’s B G Thoroughbreds, that Meah signed the ticket for a colt from the penultimate crop of the late Scat Daddy, going to $100,000 for the son of Trusty Lady (Deputy Minister) from the VanMeter-Gentry consignment at Keeneland September in 2016.

“With a baby, I try to picture them six or eight months down the line,” Meah explained. “How are they going to develop, how are they going to look, how are they going to move with that saddle on them? Mr Melody looked like he was going to have a bit more length, but he also had a good, strong body to him, so I figured he would be a lovely looking 2-year-old. He really presented himself well when he walked. He was a very proud horse. He had that look about him like ‘I’m something special, I know it and I’m going to prove it to you.’ Sometimes you just have a feeling about some horses and we had a good feeling about him. He came in well under what we expected, so we were super excited about the price we got him for.”

Meah said the late March foal was a quick study.

“Pretty much from four weeks in of having tack on, [2-year-old consignor] Robbie Harris said this horse is something special,” Meah said. “He started to grow and everything he did–from getting his tack on to jogging in the field to the first time he saw the race track to the first time he saw the gate–it was a one-day process. He’d see the gate one time, he’d be good with the gate forever afterwards. He’d jog on the track, he’d be good with that. He was a very fast-learning horse, everything came fast to him. Everything you asked of him he would do effortlessly.”

That was the good news. The not-so-good news was that he was cataloged as hip 1205 of 1208 at OBS April and there was a material impact.

“There were a lot of people that had bought horses 100 or 200 hips prior that had left the sale,” Meah said. “We lost a lot of money at the sale that day, because a lot of the clients didn’t want to wait until the end, they’d already gotten their horses.”

Despite the late hour, the Scat Daddy colt–who breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 flat–fetched $400,000 from Emmanuel de Seroux’s Narvick International buying on behalf of Japanese clients (click for sales coverage).

“We were over the moon, because four times your money is pretty good and it actually paid for the whole venture,” adding that Yeager bought three horses that September for $327,000.

Named Mr Melody, Meah’s purchase proved equally adept as a racehorse, not only winning his maiden on the dirt at Tokyo at first asking, but doing so in track-record time (video).

Another win and two runner-up efforts on the main track followed, but Mr Melody was stepped up to the G3 Falcon S., a 1400-meter grass test, for his latest at Chukyo Racecourse Mar. 17. The results were equally spectacular, as the 7-1 chance powered home late to defeat fellow American-bred Asakusa Genki (Stormy Atlantic) in his turf bow.

“Breaking the track record the first time out was a bit of a surprise, because as much as he looked like he could be an early type, I didn’t think he’d do that,” Meah admitted. “When he did that I was like, ‘wow, he really is something special.’ It hasn’t surprised me that the horse has gone on and done well.”

Less than 24 hours later, Meah’s resume was padded when the Baltas-trained Madam Dancealot, overcame a slow pace and double-digit deficit to win the GII Santa Ana S. at Santa Anita. Meah teamed with Lillingston Bloodstock’s Barry Lynch to purchase Madam Dancealot for €260,000 as a horse of racing at the 2016 Goffs Champions Sale.

“I had one client that was interested and I thought I was going to do it with him, but he literally backed out one day before the sale,” Meah said. “Funny enough, we were just getting done that morning and I saw [Slam Dunk Racing’s] Nick Casato and figured if I don’t at least mention it to him, I’m not doing my job. I tell him literally less than 24 hours before the sale. He says to me that he’s interested and asked when the sale was. I said it’s tomorrow and he’s like ‘whoa’, but thankfully he went home and watched the replays and we chatted several times. We had to call Goffs and see if they could help out on short order, and they were very kind and helpful and sure enough we got the horse. And the rest is history, she’s been awesome, she’s been a flag-bearer for the barn.”

Upset winner of the GII San Clemente H. and beaten a neck into third in the GI Del Mar Oaks, Madam Dancealot could remain in California for the GI Gamely S. May 26, but will also be considered for the GI Coolmore Jenny Wiley S. at Keeneland Apr. 14.

Meah admits that his accomplishments have far exceeded his modest expectations.

“When I first got into it, I knew it was something I really wanted to get involved in, but I would have been quite happy buying three, four or five horses a year,” he said. “To be in this position right now, it’s crazy. It’s been a roller coaster, but it’s been mostly highs. That weekend is one I’ll never forget and hope there’s more in the future.”

 

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