By Amie Karlsson
Ever wondered what happened to Swipe? Despite only winning once, Swipe became the second highest-rated 2-year-old in the U.S. in 2015. The son of Birdstone emerged as one to follow after a black-type victory and two placings in his early 2-year-old campaign. He then ran into another talented juvenile called Nyquist (Uncle Mo).
In his next four starts, of which three were Grade Is, Swipe found himself the runner-up behind Nyquist. That included the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland, where Swipe was less than half a length behind the future Kentucky Derby winner.
It was a frustrating time for Swipe’s trainer Keith Desormeaux and the owner partnership headed by Big Chief Racing, but very lucky for the Swedish couple Ivan and Berit Sjoberg. Had the winning post at Keeneland been a little further away, Swipe would not be residing at a stud farm in Sweden right now.
“We don’t have the resources to buy a Group or Grade I winner. Instead, we must be clever and try to find a horse that has been racing just below top level,” says Ivan Sjoberg, who together with his wife purchased Swipe as a stallion prospect after his short racing career.
Swipe landed in Sweden at the end of 2016, and covered around 30 mares in his first year, a rather large book in a country which only produces around 200 Thoroughbred foals per year.
Sjoberg said he is hoping that the American recruit will help bring the domestic Thoroughbred breeding industry one step forward, and what he has seen so far is very encouraging.
“We could not be happier with his first foals. Swipe himself is a big, strong horse, a typical American dirt horse, and you can see much of this in his first foals. They are absolutely correct, muscular, and with a good attitude. Many of them are real copies of their father.”
“Swipe mainly covered mares with American pedigrees, so we have produced some all-American foals here in Sweden. One of our best mares, Day To Shine (Aldebaran), from an old Darby Dan family and sister to Grade I-winner Time And Motion (Tapit), got a fantastic filly. And Swipe covered mares by Monarchos, Orientate, Stormin Fever, Speightstown, and Fusaichi Pegasus.”
The Sjobergs’ farm Ravdansens Stuteri has been crowned champion breeder in Sweden on numerous occasions, including five times in the last six years. With more than 20 mares of their own and another 10 boarding mares, the couple run one of the biggest Thoroughbred breeding operations in the region. And with four stallions on the roster, they have also become the busiest Thoroughbred stallion stud in Scandinavia.
“I suppose we are quite Americanized,” Sjoberg said. “We have spent a lot of time in Kentucky, and I’m fascinated by the American bloodlines. Since Swedish racing reminds much more of American than British racing, with the bulk of races on the dirt, it makes sense to look at American bloodlines.”
However, their two oldest residents would be better known among Japanese racing fans.
The Sjobergs stand the Japanese pair Eishin Dunkirk (Jpn) and Philomatheia (Jpn), both 21 now, and also have some young Japanese blood on their roster with Barocci, a son of the worldwide sensation Deep Impact.
“There are plenty of well-bred, non-raced stallion prospects on the market, but unfortunately, that has never been an option for us,” said Sjoberg. “But one day, Naoya Yoshida [of Winchester Farm in Kentucky] rang me and said that there would be a horse called Barocci offered at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. Barocci met all our requirements: he had a top-class pedigree and had competed against the best horses of his generation, but failed to win the big races.”
“Barocci ran in the best races for 3-year-olds in France. He ran very well in the French 2000 Guineas, finishing sixth despite a very wide draw and getting hampered in running. If he would have been placed we would never have been able to afford him, so we’re quite happy about that,” said Sjoberg.
His first crop, born in 2016, consists of almost 20 foals. The 2-year-old season has just kicked off in Scandinavia, and Barocci’s first barrier trial runner impressed in Stockholm on Saturday.
“The 2-year-olds look fantastic,” said Sjoberg. “He marks them a lot; he is almost black himself, just like Sunday Silence, and most of them look just the same.”
Taking Swedish Breeding To The Next Level…
The four stallions are enjoying the Swedish summer in their paddocks at Ravdansen. With more than 250 acres of pasture, the Sjobergs make sure that both their stallions and broodmares thrive, and that the youngsters get a head start in life.
“We have a lot of pasture compared to the number of horses,” Sjoberg said. “We have large paddocks and try keep the horses out as much as possible.”
“Swedish breeders are just as knowledgeable as breeders in other countries. And there is nothing wrong with the climate. It gets as cold in Kentucky as it gets here. We just don’t have the bloodlines. We need better mares and better stallions. But we can’t afford to purchase the top-class mares for $500,000, or $50,000 for that matter. Raising the level is a very slow process, but we are working on it.”
Keen to always improve the quality of their stock, the couple is often seen at the bloodstock sales in Britain and Ireland, and occasionally the U.S., trying to source good-value mares from established pedigrees to bring back to their farm.
“At Goffs last year, we bought a Tapit mare in foal to Helmet from Godolphin, and a Dubawi mare in foal to Harzand, and got two beautiful foals this spring. Royal Crystal, the Tapit mare, is now in foal to Swipe, and La Reine de Pearls, by Dubawi, is in foal to Barocci.”
With a Breeders’ Cup runner-up and sons of Deep Impact, Mr. Prospector and Danzig on the stallion roster, the Sjobergs seem to be well on their way to the next level of Thoroughbred breeding in Sweden.