Triton Stable Buying and Selling to Success

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Joe Miller

By Ben Massam

It is natural for a seller to feel some level of remorse when a recently auctioned horse achieves a high level of success for new connections, but that certainly was not the case Saturday when Abbondanza Racing and Medallion Racing’s Midnight Crossing (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) led wire-to-wire to capture the GIII Bobby Frankel S. at Santa Anita. For Joe Miller of Triton Stable–which purchased the filly for £70,000 at the 2016 Tattersalls December Sale and ultimately sold her for $240,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November Sale–the victory was rather a welcome confirmation of the viability of their business model.

Triton Stable, managed by Miller along with long-time business partner Lincoln Collins, forms partnerships in two-year periods and re-sells horses with the goal of offering residual racing value to potential buyers.

“We want to have a reputation to not only race fillies at a high level, but also sell fillies with plenty of fuel left in the tank,” Miller said. “Our idea is that we’re going to race them and we’re going to sell them in a couple of years…We’re in the buying and selling business–not just racing.”

Unlike many partnerships, Miller said the finite aspect of the Triton syndicates allow for greater flexibility in pursuing racing prospects. Focusing primarily on fillies and mares with upside and pedigree, partners can come and go as they please in two-year phases.

“Our model is a little different than a lot of other partnerships because what you do with us is write one check at the beginning of it and it covers all your expenses for two years,” Miller said.

“We sell all the horses after two years, and you get money back at the end of it. It works well because if we see a horse that we like, we just go after it and try to buy it. We’re not worried about calling to see who wants to take a piece–everyone in the partnership gets an equal piece of every horse.”

In many ways, the idea of Triton Stable is a product of Miller’s childhood as a racegoer at Saratoga: a fun, action-filled experience will theoretically keep partners engaged and invested.

“I grew up in Saratoga and my father was a big racing fan,” Miller said. “We used to go to the races a lot and when I turned 15 years old, my parents made me get a summer job. I went to the racetrack and my first job was selling the Thoro-Graph in the little booth there, and it was a bit addicting because you could cash your paychecks at the betting windows. I did that for a couple of summers, then I started hotwalking on the backstretch.”

Having been “bit by the bug” from an early age, Miller continued to pursue his passion for Thoroughbred racing at the University of Louisville’s Equine Business Program. Firmly rooted in Kentucky, he became acquainted with the management team at Three Chimneys Farm in the early 2000s and eventually teamed up with Lincoln Collins and Robert Clay to form Three Chimneys Racing–a partnership which laid the groundwork for Triton Stables’ race-to-sell concept.

“I started working for Lincoln Collins in 2004 and he was [Three Chimneys’] advisor for a number of years,” explained Miller. “We all felt that we wanted to get more involved in the racing side of things. So we put a group of people together to basically buy proven race fillies with the ultimate goal of selling them through Three Chimneys’ consignment–it was mutually beneficial. It was under the name Three Chimneys Racing for the first five or six years.”

Under the Three Chimneys banner, the partners enjoyed considerable success, winning the 2011 GI E.P. Taylor S. with Miss Keller (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}) and the 2010 GI Flower Bowl Inv. with Ave (GB) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}). Both mares were imported from Europe and ultimately went on to sell for over $1 million.

Miller and Collins, who also maintain a separate bloodstock agency named Kern Thoroughbreds, parted ways with Three Chimneys when new management took over in 2012. The pair re-named their venture Triton Stable and retained many of the same investors who participated in Three Chimneys Racing. While the name is different, Miller explained that they still look for the same, distinct criteria when canvassing potential racemare acquisitions.

“We look for fillies that have some pedigree, and if they do turn out to be good, they could have some residual upside to them,” Miller said. “It seems like a lot of people who are buying horses privately want to buy the 2-year-old who broke their maiden by five lengths–we’re not looking for those types of horses. We’re looking for that filly who ran third in a Group 3 in Europe that we feel can go out and win a graded stake; a filly with some pedigree who can earn black type or win a stake in America and be worth significantly more than what we paid for her.”

Miller added that Triton Stable tries to fill out its roster with a number of other value-based purchases that allow partners to see their horses compete more frequently.

“Basically, we’re trying to give our partners as much fun and action as possible while limiting the downside risk,” Miller said. “Hopefully, they’re not going to lose too much money and, every now and then, they’re going to turn a profit…We have people from all walks of life who get involved in it.”

True to their diversification strategy, Miller and Collins spread their stable out between a number of different trainers competing on different circuits. While the majority of Triton horses go to Woodbine-based Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, they have also horses stabled with Simon Callaghan, Jim Cassidy, Carla Gaines, Ben Cecil and Edward Freeman in Southern California; Christophe Clement and Tony Dutrow in New York; and Mike Maker in Kentucky.

Miller said that while their most recent partnership included four fillies, the size of the stable can grow as large as eight or nine–an ideal amount to maximize the potential of finding a top-class horse while keeping expenses at a minimum. In total, the venture has raced 30 horses, 12 of which became stakes winners and 20 of which earned black type.

The most recent partnership, which dispersed in November, returned a profit to its investors, according to Miller. In addition to Moonlight Crossing’s Keeneland sale, Triton Stable sold stakes-placed Moonlight Sky (Sky Mesa)–a half-sister to

GI Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman (Quality Road)–for $675,000 at Fasig-Tipton November. The filly was initially scooped up for $240,000 at Keeneland November in 2016.

“It’s not easy out there. It’s hard to buy them, and it’s hard to sell them for the right price,” Miller said. “It’s great when you have a good year.”

With an eye to the future, Miller said Triton Stable is currently in fundraising mode, aiming to reload for the next partnership. In the meantime, they added the 6-year-old mare Ickymasho (GB) (Multiplex {GB}), an eight-time winner over all-weather tracks and turf in England and France who was purchased privately out of the Tattersalls December Sale. She is scheduled to join Attfield for a 2018 campaign at Woodbine.

 

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