By Jessica Martini
When Hunter Valley Farm's Adrian Regan and Fergus Galvin purchased A Mo Reay (Uncle Mo) for $400,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton November sale, the plan was to add the filly to the farm's broodmare band, but a string of three straight victories in the Hunter Valley colors has postponed that trip to the breeding shed and had the operation celebrating its first Grade I triumph when A Mo Reay scored a dramatic last-gasp victory in the GI Beholder Mile at Santa Anita Saturday.
“Adrian and another partner on the farm, John Wade, they both went out,” Galvin, who enjoyed Saturday's victory from his home in Kentucky, said. “But it was great. It was fantastic. We had a couple of near-misses with Family Way (Uncle Mo), she had a great campaign with Brendan Walsh for two years, showed up in a lot of the Grade I races, but to actually have one get a head in front in our own colors is fantastic. And it was made even better with Adrian and John out there to enjoy it all. Really at the end of the day, that's what it's all about, to be able to enjoy the big days. Everybody works hard in the business and you've got to be able to enjoy the big days.”
A Mo Reay was third in the 2021 GI Frizette S., but had yet to win a stakes race when she went through the ring at Fasig-Tipton last fall. Having spent most of her career on the main track, she came into the sale off a pair of efforts over the turf, finishing third in the Aug. 25 Riskaverse S. and fifth in the Sept. 18 GIII Pebbles S.
“She is a lovely physical,” Galvin said. “Adrian and I were talking and we were saying if she could just win a listed race to go along with her Grade I-placing, it would help her broodmare value down the road.”
A Mo Reay was sent to trainer Brad Cox's Fair Grounds base and duly delivered for the team with a three-length victory in the Dec. 31 Pago Hop S.
“Not long after she went down there, Brad was starting to speak in pretty glowing terms about her,” Galvin said. “So we were getting more and more confident with her as time went on.”
The group's optimism in the filly continued to grow when a trip to Oaklawn Park resulted in a late-closing half-length victory in the Feb. 4 GIII Bayakoa S. Shipped across the country, A Mo Reay was sent off at 7-1 in the Beholder Mile. She rolled up to engage Fun to Dream (Arrogate) at the top of the stretch, only to have the even-money favorite scamper clear. Undeterred, A Mo Reay closed relentlessly to just get her head in front on the line.
Of the dramatic stretch run, Galvin said, “I can't say I was confident, but the way she has finished in her two prior races with Brad, she has done her best work in the last furlong. So I knew she would definitely finish up. It was just a matter of if she could catch Baffert's filly and it was really nail-biting as she just kind of got her at the final jump.”
Hunter Valley came close to Grade I glory a few times last year with Family Way, a filly Galvin purchased on behalf of the farm, Marc Detampel and Debra O'Connor for €150,000 at the 2020 Arqana December sale. The mare was on the board in three Grade I races last term, including a runner-up effort in the GI Rodeo Drive S. in October before selling for $1.45 million at the 2022 Fasig November sale.
Could A Mo Reay's Grade I victory mean a return to the sales ring this coming November?
“It's a bit too early to say,” Galvin said. “She has obviously become a very valuable proposition. We do know that she will definitely race this year and we haven't really discussed anything beyond that. Everything is open at this stage. We just want to enjoy her racing career this year and come up with a plan later on.”
Hunter Valley has been involved in several high-profile purchases of racing age fillies who succeed for their partners both at the track and then again in the sales ring. In addition to Family Way, the operation purchased Caravel (Mizzen Mast), who went on to win last year's GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, for $500,000 at the 2021 Fasig November sale, as well as Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil), who was purchased for $5 million at that same auction before adding another graded victory and a pair of Grade I placings to her resume before reselling for that same figure last year.
“If you do get lucky enough to stumble across the likes of an A Mo Reay or a Family Way, the prize money structure if they are good enough to compete at that level is really fantastic,” Galvin said. “Especially with fillies, you have the residual value. Whether or not she succeeded for us back at the racetrack, we knew A Mo Reay had plenty of broodmare value. It's nice to have a fallback when you buy them with black-type, or Grade I-placing, in her case. She wasn't cheap at $400,000, but at the same time, she had already X amount of broodmare value as it was. There is less risk involved with fillies, and certainly well-bred fillies.”
As for where A Mo Reay may start next, Galvin said, “She came out of [the Beholder] good and she will fly back to her Fair Grounds base the middle of the week. I haven't really had much time to chat with him, but you really don't have to get in Brad's way too much as far as race planning. He is always about two steps ahead of everybody.”
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