First Impressions: Kentucky Derby 145


Champion Game Winner as a foal | Liz Maddux

By Steve Sherack

LOUISVILLE, KY – With the First Saturday in May quickly approaching, TDN Senior Editor Steve Sherack caught up with the connections of leading GI Kentucky Derby contenders to get some of their ‘First Impressions.’ In this edition, we check in with Eaton Sales principal Reiley McDonald, Stone Farm’s Arthur B. Hancock III and Ben Glass, longtime advisor to owners Gary and Mary West.

Potential Derby favorite Omaha Beach (War Front) was acquired privately by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms out of the Eaton Sales consignment after RNA’ing for $625,000 at the 2017 KEESEP Yearling Sale. Bred in Kentucky by the Charming Syndicate, the half-brother to champion Take Charge Brandi (Giant’s Causeway) has won his last three starts, headed by an ultra-impressive performance in the GI Arkansas Derby. Eaton Sales also sold Omaha Beach’s winning dam Charming (Seeking the Gold), a daughter of Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady (Dehere), for $3.2 million at the 2006 KEESEP Yearling Sale.

‘TDN Rising Star’ Roadster (Quality Road)’s pedigree pays tribute to Hancock’s late, longtime friend Ned Evans. Bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm, the GI Santa Anita Derby winner’s dam Ghost Dancing (Silver Ghost) was purchased by Hancock in foal to Candy Ride (Arg) from the Dispersal of the Estate of Edward P. Evans for $220,000 at the 2011 KEENOV Sale. Speedway Stable went to $525,000 to purchase Roadster as a KEESEP yearling.

Champion 2-year-old colt and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}) was selected by Glass for $110,000 as a KEESEP yearling on behalf of the Wests. The 2018 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero finished a valiant second behind his aforementioned Bob Baffert-trained stablemate Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby. West homebred Maximum Security (New Year’s Day), the unbeaten winner of the GI Florida Derby, will also carry the couple’s hot pink-and-black silks in the Derby after making his career debut in just a $16,000 maiden claimer at Gulfstream Park in December.


“From the time he was a foal, he was a good baby, but by the time he actually arrived at the sale at Keeneland, he was an A+ physical. My only notes I wrote at the sale were, ‘Better, and better,

and better.’ He was a good size, well-muscled, beautifully balanced, and he had a beautiful head, neck, shoulder and depth. I was floored that he didn’t get sold in the ring.

I had remembered overhearing somebody on Rick Porter’s team saying that he was the best colt in the sale. So, after the sale I called Rick and said, ‘I know your team loved this horse and I love him. He’s just got everything you want.’ Rick looked it up and said he thought he’d go for too much. I said, ‘Well, make me an offer and I’ll take it back to the owners.’ He made an offer and said, ‘I’m not going to dicker here. I’m going to make one offer and if you guys can do it, great. And if not, that’s fine.’ He made the offer, I took it to the Charming Syndicate and they accepted it and the rest is history.

I saw Omaha Beach recently and he’s even prettier now. He’s got such a good mind–he’s just hanging out in that stall like an older horse. I talked to Rick Porter and he’s just thrilled. That’s what this business is all about. Rick hasn’t had an easy past five years, but this one has him energized.

That family just keeps on coming. It’s truly one of the really great female lines in the history of Thoroughbred racing. Charming looks almost like she’ll be just as good as her mother one day as far as producing top horses.” —Reiley McDonald


“Ned Evans bred Roadster’s mother [Ghost Dancing] and his sire Quality Road, so it was sort of a tribute to him to put the two of them together. Marette Farrell [Editor’s note: Farrell also recommended Roadster as a yearling purchase to owner Speedway Stable at KEESEP] helps with our breedings and she said that it was a real good cross and nick. [Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner] Hootenanny was in the same cross, too.

He looks like a very good horse to me, but time will tell how good he is. He certainly won one of the big prep races for the Derby. When your involved with something maybe you get high on your own supply, but I was very impressed with just the way he did it coming from off the pace and going so wide and he also beat the 2-year-old champion in doing so. Let me put it this way, I wouldn’t trade places with anybody. Maybe that’s nepotism, but I wouldn’t.

As a foal, he was always ripping and running in his paddock. He had so much energy–he was a high-energy foal. He had spunk and toughness and we liked him from day one. We all liked him. He was one of those that everybody had a high opinion of and they did obviously at the sale, too.” —Arthur B. Hancock III


“We loved him from the giddy up, go. We liked him at the farm when we were breaking him as a yearling and we liked him when he was a 2-year-old and started breezing. Baffert liked him from the giddy up, go… No stories, it was just kind of smooth. Everything went ABC.

Classic bloodlines, good-looking horses, stretchy, long overstep and so forth–that’s what Mr. West wants to buy, so that’s what we always look for. I got to really love my yearlings before I buy them and if I don’t really love them, I don’t even put ’em on Mr. West’s list.” –Ben Glass


“[Maximum Security’s sire and 2013 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner] New Year’s Day hadn’t come up with any big horses yet and Mr. West was trying to find a farm in Kentucky that would maybe buy half of him and stand him. These guys from South America came with the largest offer, so we sold him to them. Whether we made a mistake or not, time will tell. Jack Werk used to always tell me that one horse doesn’t make a sire, so we’ll see.

Sid Fernando and Roger Lyons–I rely a lot on those two–made me lists of mares that they thought would nick to New Year’s Day, Power Broker, West Coast, American Freedom, etc. The mare that I bought [Maximum Security’s dam Lil Indy (Anasheed), an $80,000 KEEJAN purchase in foal to Pioneerof the Nile in 2014], was on their list.

There was never anything we didn’t like about [Maximum Security]-it just wasn’t what you would call a hot family at that time when he debuted. Looking at [his immediate family’s results on the track as well as their auction results], we were thinking that this was probably a bottom claiming horse. Jason [Servis] liked him–he told us he’d win and said that he’d probably be worth a little more. But we made the decision to just run him [in a $16,000 maiden claimer at Gulfstream Dec. 20] and try and get the money and break his maiden and it worked. Of course, then he won so impressively and the rest is history.” –Ben Glass

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