Euro-Breds Hit California Purple Patch

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River Boyne | Benoit

By Kelsey Riley

The opening of Santa Anita’s winter meet late last month came with a spate of good results for European-breds, and three of those had more in common than their suffixes alone. The G2 Mathis Brothers Mile winner River Boyne (Ire) (Dandy Man {Ire}), the Listed Lady of Shamrock S. winner and GI American Oaks third Amandine (GB) (Shamardal) and the Listed Blue Norther S. third Thriving (GB) (Kodiac {GB}) were all sourced from Britain by owners Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal along with American-based agent Joe Miller of Kern Thoroughbreds. All three are trained in California by Jeff Mullins.

The now 4-year-old River Boyne had been placed at two in Ireland for trainer Gordon Elliott, but he has done nothing but progress since Miller signed for him for 70,000gns at the 2017 Tattersalls Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale. Miller was working on behalf of the California-based father and son team of Jed Cohen and Tim Cohen, who race horses together as Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal. Joining Mullins, River Boyne was second at Del Mar about a month post-sale and then proceeded to win three straight, including the Listed Pasadena S. River Boyne has now won seven times for his new connections and has been off the board just once in 11 stateside starts. The Mathis Brothers Mile on Dec. 26 was his third graded win, and came after a half-length second in the GI Hollywood Derby.

“He’s an amazing horse and Jeff Mullins has done a great job keeping him at a high level for the whole year,” Miller said. “He cost 70,000gns at the sale. He was still a maiden when we bought him off Gordon Elliott on the last day of the sale, which is usually the worst day. There’s usually not a lot of quality on the final day and he was the one horse that we liked that day, and we were lucky enough to buy him. We ran him right off the plane when he got to America and he’s really never missed a beat. It was great that he was able to end the year on a high note for them.”

On the same card that River Boyne won the Mathis Brothers Mile, Amandine took the Listed Lady of Shamrock S. going a mile. Perhaps even more remarkably, the then 3-year-old filly wheeled back three days later to finish third stepped up to a mile and a quarter in the GI American Oaks. Amandine had been twice placed at two for trainer David Elsworth and broke her maiden last summer for David Simcock. Miller purchased Amandine when he was in Newmarket for last year’s renewal of the Tattersalls Autumn Horses-In-Training Sale, but not in the ring; he bought her privately for Red Baron’s Barn, Rancho Temescal and Shanderella Stables from breeder Lordship Stud, having some inside knowledge of the family.

“My racing partnership, Triton Stable, had raced the dam, Kissable, in America as partners with Lordship Stud’s Trevor and Libby Harris,” Miller said. “She won a stake for us at Saratoga and she was a lot of fun, and the Harrises bought us out on her at the Tattersalls Sale as a broodmare [for 180,000gns]. Amandine is the first foal out of her. She wasn’t quite good enough to get black-type in Europe, so we worked out a deal where we bought her and Trevor and Libby get to buy her back at the end of her racing career. It’s a mutually beneficial deal. We ran her back three days later in the American Oaks after she won and she ran a really good third and we’re really proud of her to come back on such short rest and do so well.”

Amandine should be a broodmare prospect for the Harrises to look forward to, being a stakes-winning and Grade I-placed filly from the deep Juddmonte family of G1 St Leger and G1 Racing Post Trophy winner Brian Boru (GB) (Sadler’s Wells), G2 Hardwicke and G2 Great Voltigeur S. winner Sea Moon (GB) (Beat Hollow {GB}), G1 Investec Derby and G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce (GB) (King’s Best) and Godolphin’s 2018 G1 Caulfield Cup and dual German Group 1 winner Best Solution (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}).

Miller also picked up the then 2-year-old filly Thriving at Tattersalls last October, paying 110,000gns for the bay who had won a maiden and novice race during the summer. Thriving was distanced when thrown into Grade III company on her American debut in late November, but she bounced back to be third in the Blue Norther going a mile on Dec. 30.

“She had a very bad trip first start off the plane, but we ran her back four weeks later in the Blue Norther and she ran great,” Miller said. “She was wide the whole way and got some black-type. Jeff Mullins is really high on her and she’s going to run back in a stake in January going down the hill [on the Santa Anita turf].”

Miller has been sourcing horses from Europe since starting out as a bloodstock agent in 2005, and last December he added a new destination to his calendar, visiting Deauville for the first time for Arqana’s December Breeding Stock Sale. Miller was looking for horses for both Red Baron’s Barn and the aforementioned Triton Stable, and he came away with one for each. Miller signed for the German listed-placed Guiliana (Fr) (Zoffany {Ire}) on behalf of Red Baron’s Barn at Arqana for €150,000, and for Triton Stable he bought privately Cartabianca (Fr) (Vision D’Etat {Fr}) after she won the Listed Prix Petite Etoile on the Deauville all-weather on Nov. 27. Guiliana has joined another French ex-pat, trainer Leonard Powell, in California while Cartabianca has gone to Roger Attfield at Payson Park.

Of his buying strategy, Miller said, “We’re looking specifically for horses that are correct; they have to have very good conformation and be very good movers. If they’re not very good movers they’re not going to stay sound in California or anywhere we send them. We’re specifically looking for very good-looking horses that are good movers that we think hopefully can have their best year ahead of them. For buying horses for Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal, Tim Cohen comes to the sales with us. He has a farm in California, he’s very hands-on and understands horses. He knows what he likes so it’s really a team effort of myself, him and Edward Freeman, who trains for him in California as well. We all put our heads together and he makes the final call on what he wants to buy.”

Miller added another international angle to his business last year when signing on as the American representative for New Zealand Bloodstock. That company’s flagship Karaka yearling sales series kicks off on Jan. 27 and runs through Feb. 3, and Miller said he expects American participation in New Zealand racing to grow.

“The goal is to try to get more Americans to be involved in the racing industry down there,” he said. “They have had such worldwide success with their horses, and it’s not so much about trying to get people to bring those horses back to America as it is just trying to get people involved with racing down there, whether they race them in New Zealand or Australia. We have a few Americans coming to the sale for the first time-Justin Casse is coming, who likes to go to every sale in the world, so that wasn’t a hard sell. Justin owned a piece of a Tavistock colt that we pinhooked last year-he, I and Kip Elser owned it and we bought it for NZ$150,000 and sold it for NZ$400,000. Justin was kind of sold after that so he’s coming this year and Kip Elser and Mike McMahon and Jamie Hill are coming. We have a few Americans that we’ve put it on their radar and they’re going to give it a try this year.”

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