Keeneland Winner's Circle: Higher Power May Have Bright Future Following Pacific Classic Win


“Inside the Winner's Circle, Presented by Keeneland” is a series showcasing graduates of the Keeneland sales who have gone on to achieve success on racing's biggest stages.

While the Keeneland September Yearling Sale is just three weeks away and on the minds of many horsemen, it was a graduate of Keeneland's newly reinstated April 2-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale who made headlines Saturday in the GI TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Classic winner Higher Power (Medgalia d'Oro) was purchased just four months ago from the April Horses of Racing Age section by David Ingordo, representing Hronis Racing LLC. The price was $250,000.

Kosta Hronis and jockey Flavien Prat | Benoit

When Ingordo and the Hronis Brothers' trainer John Sadler scoured the catalogue for the April sale they were intrigued by a 4-year-old colt named Higher Power. He had shown good form while running at the Fair Grounds and Oaklawn for trainer Michael Stidham and had won his last race before going into the sale, a second-level allowance race at the Fair Grounds. And Sadler is known for doing his best work with older horses.

The worst-case scenario was that they would have a horse who would be competitive in allowance races and lower-level stakes in California. But if Higher Power continued to develop and Sadler could find a way to improve him by a few more lengths, who knows what they would have?

That question was answered in the Pacific Classic. Higher Power, sent off at odds of 9-1, won in commanding fashion, defeating runner-up Draft Pick (Candy Ride {Arg}) by 5 1/4 lengths. Flavien Prat was aboard for the win. Sadler also won the 2018 edition with Hronis Racing's future GI Breeders' Cup Classic and Eclipse Award winner Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky).

The team now has a Grade I winner who, if he keeps improving, and with his pedigree, could become a stallion prospect after he retires.

“The horse had a good pedigree. He is beautiful animal,” Ingordo said. “He was well cared for by the trainers who had him before the sale [Michael Stidham and Donnie K. Von Hemel]. And Mrs. Abercrombie [the owner of Pin Oak Stud] has a history of breeding really good horses. The pedigree, along with his physical and what he had achieved on the track made him desirable. Everything came together the right way.”

Higher Power had never run on the grass before arriving in the Sadler barn and, ironically, one of the reasons he wanted to buy him was he thought he had potential on the turf. In fact, Stidham, who consigned the horse at the sale, called Sadler and suggested he take a look at Higher Power in part because he thought the horse had turf potential.

After Sadler ran him on the dirt in the GI Gold Cup at Santa Anita, where he finished fifth, he did switch the horse over to the grass. He won an allowance race and then ran second in the Wickerr S. Sadler was thinking of staying on the grass and was looking at the GII Del Mar Mile, run the day after the Pacific Classic. But he was so impressed with the way the colt was working on the dirt, he decided to aim high.

Higher Power | Benoit

“He ran really well in Wickerr,” Sadler said. “I thought he was unlucky to lose, then he came out of the race in such good shape. He trained on the dirt here and had such a big work the weekend before the race that I thought I'd try the bigger race with the bigger purse.”

“His work before the race was brilliant,” Ingordo said. “The horse was touting himself that he was going to run a big race.”

For Sadler and the Hronis Brothers, this has become a familiar pattern. Perhaps no owner-trainer combination is better at developing older horses, and that's a reason why they keep shopping for more.

“The Hronises have an open mind,” Sadler said. “We don't just do yearlings. We want a diverse portfolio. We want older horses that are running, because in any given year the 2-year-olds can take time to get ready and some of the yearlings we buy don't really get to their best until three.

I like to provide them with action and a lot of different horses and buying older horses is one way to keep the ball rolling.”

Though Sadler believes that Higher Power could still be a top turf horse, he will keep him on the dirt for now. He said he will either run him next in the Sept. 28 GI Awesome Again S. at Santa Anita or train him up to the GI Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 2.

Should Higher Power never win another race, the Hronis, Sadler, Ingordo team made a smart buy at the Keeneland April sale, which will return in 2020 to again feature 2-year-olds and horses of racing age. It's not every day you can find a future Pacific Classic winner available at auction, especially for a reasonable price. But the connections are most excited about the future. Higher Power will run next year and there's every chance that we've not seen his best yet.

“Time helps a lot of horses,” Ingordo said. “He just keeps improving and maturing and everybody is very hopeful he can finish out his 4-year-old year and have a good 5-year-old campaign. That's something John is really big on. He likes the older horses and he likes to give them time and find horses where he believes their better days are ahead of them.

“The industry focuses a lot of time, attention and money on 2 and 3-year-old racing. But then you have a horse like Higher Power, who may have missed his mark early on and maybe just now be coming into his own. With races like the [GI] Pegasus World Cup, the Saudi Cup, the [G1] Dubai World Cup and the [GI] Breeders' Cup, who knows what this horse can accomplish down the road?”


Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link


Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.