Keeneland Colt A First For Wootton Bassett

Bonne Chance's Wootton Bassett colt | Keeneland


Since Wootton Bassett's sale to Coolmore was announced just over a year ago, the son of Iffraaj has continued to go from strength to strength. This Wednesday will mark another milestone for the former French champion 2-year-old when his first yearling at a North American sale goes through the ring at Keeneland September.

Conceived in France and shipped in utero to Kentucky by breeder Bonne Chance Farm, hip 688 was foaled last February at his owner's farm in Versailles. He is the third foal out of Eldacar (Ire) (Verglas {Ire}), twice a winner for trainer Mikel Delzangles and a full-sister to the G2 Prix de Pomone and G2 Prix Royallieu runner-up Miss Crissy (Ire) from the family of the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud victor Shaka (GB) and G3 Prix de Psyche scorer Serisia (Fr) and her Australian Group 1-winning son Contributer (Ire).

The transatlantic intentions of Brazilian billionaire Gilberto Sayao Da Silva were rather plainly spelled out when Da Silva purchased the former Regis Farm in Versailles in 2015 and re-named it “Bonne Chance”-good luck in French. Da Silva had established Stud Rio Dois Irmaos (Stud RDI) in 2008 to race horses in Brazil and Argentina, and had begun to collect a few horses in France with the intention to establish a stud there. When the opportunity to purchase Regis Farm came along, however, the focus was turned in that direction and much of the stock acquired in France-including Eldacar–was rerouted to Kentucky, with a few fillies and mares remaining in France.

In the meantime, the folks at Bonne Chance had made a very shrewd decision when taking a share in a Group 1-winning 2-year-old called Wootton Bassett when he was syndicated at Haras d'Etreham.

“When they bought Wootton Bassett they asked us to be part of the syndicate and we were glad to do it,” explained Bonne Chance Chief Executive Officer Alberto Figueiredo. “You have to take a shot and when you jump on a horse you have to support him and keep your fingers crossed because no one knows who will be the next superstar. So we kept sending him mares and supporting him and hoped for the best.”

Among those mares was Eldacar, who produced as her first foal the current 3-year-old filly Sunny Morning (Fr) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) who was sold for €190,000 at Arqana August and placed in June for Ecurie Jean-Louis Bouchard and trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. Eldacar's second foal, the 2-year-old filly Macadamia (Fr) (Wootton Bassett), was retained by Bonne Chance and was exported to the U.S. to race after Eldacar sadly died last year. Macadamia made her first start at Kentucky Downs on Saturday for trainer Paulo Lobo and finished eighth after racing in contention on the rail.

Despite following the sire's results closely, Bonne Chance's Bloodstock and Office Manager Leah Alessandroni said she had never seen a Wootton Bassett in the flesh until Eldacar's colt came along, but she said he gave her a very favourable first impression of what the sire throws.

“I'd seen pictures of the stallion and I'd talked to Alberto about him and some other people that were familiar with the stallion,” she said. “But I didn't know what to expect until this horse was born. He's a big, strong horse. Looking at him and looking at the stallion I think there are a lot of similarities there. We imported his full-sister and she's also a quality horse but a lot smaller and more feminine. But we like her a lot and she's training well. I think anyone who is looking for a big, strong, quality horse is going to have to like this colt. I really can't pick him apart. He's a solid individual, big and strong and he's done everything right since day one.”

While Wootton Bassett has had just 11 runners in the U.S., they have proven adept to the American turf; Audayra is his headline act this side of the Atlantic, having won last year's GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Tamahere (Fr) won the GII Sands Point S. at Belmont Park last fall after being imported by Madaket Stables and partners, and Qatar Racing's Guildsman (Fr) took the GIII Franklin-Simpson S. at Kentucky Downs last summer, the same race that operation won this past Saturday with The Lir Jet (Ire) (Prince Of Lir {Ire}). Three-year-old colt Wootton Asset (Fr) was the latest to advertise his sire locally when winning the GIII Virginia Derby on Aug. 31 for Madaket and trainer Graham Motion.

“I'm just excited for people to see him,” said Alessandroni of Bonne Chance's colt. “In following the sire because of our share in him, we've all become such huge fans of him and we're so excited to be able to offer the first North American-bred and sale yearling by him. I think he's a really great representation and I'm really excited for people to see him.”

Bonne Chance's Wootton Bassett colt will be offered on Wednesday during the first session of Book 2 from the Gainesway consignment.

Bonne Chance has 10 homebreds in Keeneland September, and also among those is a Lope De Vega (Ire) colt (hip 337) selling as part of the Hidden Brook consignment during the second session of Book 1 on Tuesday. His dam Diavola (Ire) (Duke of Marmalade {Ire}) was bought as a yearling by Stud RDI for 65,000gns at Tattersalls October Book 1, and won over a mile and a half on the turf for Mikel Delzangles. After producing the unraced Intello (Ger) filly Jessamine (Fr) as her first foal, Diavola was sent to Wootton Bassett in 2017 and produced the filly Rapid Achiever (Fr). Bought by John Foote for €130,000 at Arqana's October yearling sale in 2019, Rapid Achiever has won her first two starts Down Under for trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace since the Keeneland catalogue was published. Rapid Achiever was just the second runner in Australasia for Wootton Bassett after Richard Hannon's Beat Le Bon (Fr), who was sent down for the 2019 Golden Eagle, and an unbeaten debut winner will be welcome news to the breeders signed on to use the sire during his first season at Coolmore Australia.

Bonne Chance's Lope De Vega colt is from the excellent Aga Khan family of Darshaan (GB), Dar Re Mi (GB), etc., and Alessandroni said, “this guy is a really quality horse. He has the plain Lope De Vega head, but that's the only plain thing about him. He has a lot of presence and he's a really great mover. All around he's one of my top choices this year of our group. I can't pick him apart. He's really one of my favourites and has been ever since he was a foal. It's been great to see him continue to improve and step up and he looks like he's showing himself off here.”

From 42 runners in America, Lope De Vega has supplied three stakes winners including Newspaperofrecord (Ire) and Aunt Pearl (Ire), back to back winners of the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf, and Grade III winner Capla Temptress (Ire). In addition to being one of Europe's elite sires, Lope De Vega has also been very successful in Australia, where his 15 stakes winners include Group 1-winning sprinters Santa Ana Lane (Aus), Vega Magic (Aus), Gytrash (Aus) and Vega One (Aus). Bonne Chance's colt is one of three by Lope De Vega at Keeneland; Bedouin Bloodstock offers a half-sister to Breeders' Cup winner and sire Bobby's Kitten as hip 303 on Tuesday, and a half-sister to triple Grade I winner Miss Temple City (Temple City) as hip 717 on Wednesday. Both were bred by SF Bloodstock.

“Lope De Vega has done a lot in this country and has been represented by some really nice horses,” Alessandroni said. “There are a handful of them every year that you see in the sale and they sell fine, but I think he's a horse people should feel comfortable with. He's proven himself on an international level as well as a domestic level, so I think he's a horse that anybody that wants to win big races is going to at least want to look at.”

Bonne Chance is certainly riding momentum into Keeneland September, having won stakes races with imported homebreds In Love (Brz) (Agnes Gold {Jpn}) and Imperador (Arg) (Treasure Beach {GB}) over the past week. Those horses alone show that Bonne Chance is not afraid to roll the dice on international horses in America, and indeed its Keeneland offerings also include a Medaglia d'Oro son of an Argentine Group 1 winner and an Into Mischief colt out of a Galileo (Ire) mare. These are members of Bonne Chance's biggest crop to date of 18 foals.

“We actually celebrate our six year anniversary on Sept. 15,” Alessandroni said. “We had three mares when the owner bought the farm and through a combination of buying horses and bringing horses from his other operations we've built ourselves up to between 20 and 30 broodmares, and that's probably where we're always going to stay. We're selling 10 here at Keeneland, we'll have a few selling in October and we'll keep some nice fillies to race.

“We're really excited about this year's group; we think it's a really great representation of our programme. We have a colt in Book 1 by Medaglia d'Oro and the mare was bred in Argentina. She's by Harlan's Holiday but she also raced in France and South America and the U.S., and now she's here breeding for us. This group of yearlings is a really great representation of our entire programme and the international appeal we have really worked hard to bring together.”

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