Partners Bid Farewell To Grand Mare

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Grand Glory | Scoop Dyga

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Grand Glory (GB) (Olympic Glory {Ire}) has taken her connections on a remarkable ride over the last three years, and after a short sojourn in Tokyo-where she picked up fifth-place prizemoney in Sunday's G1 Japan Cup-the G1 Prix Jean Romanet winner and G1 Prix de Diane third-place finisher rolls into Deauville this weekend to go through the ring at the Arqana December Breeding Stock Sale as lot 192 from Haras de Castillon.

Grand Glory is trained in France and owned by a trio of Americans, but her story has a decidedly Italian feel. Purchased for €18,000 as a yearling by the Rome-based Marco Bozzi, Grand Glory went into training in Maisons-Laffitte with Gianluca Bietolini, a successful trainer in Italy who emigrated to France in 2013. After making a winning debut in December of 2018 for owner Bartolo Faraci, Grand Glory was purchased privately by a trio of Italian American friends now scattered across the States: Albert Frassetto, John D'Amato and Mike Pietrangelo.

Pietrangelo, a Memphis-based retired attorney, has been dabbling in racehorse ownership, breeding and pinhooking for the better part of 20 years, but he has never had a horse like Grand Glory. Recalling how he and his partners came to buy her, Pietrangelo said, “John [D'Amato] is really close to our trainer, Gianluca Bietolini, and also with Marco Bozzi, who is our bloodstock agent in Europe. Marco had bought Grand Glory for another client, and she ran a very good first race. John D'Amato called up Gianluca to congratulate him, and Gianluca was a little sad. He said, 'I've already had calls and I think the owner is going to sell.' John said, 'no, we need to buy this horse. Tell me what a fair price is.' We had Marco work that out and we bought her. Then John said, 'I'm going to ask Al Frassetto to come in.' So we have a third each.”

Pietrangelo and D'Amato met at a day at the races hosted by another Italian American, the Florida-based Paolo Romanelli, about 10 years ago. The pair, who each had racing interests in the U.S., hit it off, and before they knew it they were racehorse owners overseas.

“There were a couple of horses that were sold in Ocala and shipped over to Europe, but the buyer never paid for them, so the horses were there and they were actually with Gianluca, so we bought them,” Pietrangelo said. “Between the three of them, I don't think they won a race, but that's how we got started. Marco then bought us a couple at the Arqana sale, and we had some good luck.”

Some good luck, and a lot of ability, would be a good descriptor for Grand Glory who, after her purchase by D'Amato, Frassetto and Pietrangelo, was put away for the winter. Meeting heavy ground on her 3-year-old debut, she was second in the Listed Prix Rose de Mai, and five weeks later won a Saint-Cloud conditions race going 2000 metres. Next up was a lofty assignment in the G1 Prix de Diane, but Grand Glory's odds of 28-1 did nothing to damper the excitement of her owners, who all traveled to Chantilly to see their filly in action. Grand Glory outran her odds to be a fast-finishing third behind Channel (Ire) (Nathaniel {Ire}).

“That was one of my most exciting days at the races,” Pietrangelo said. “It's as big a race in France as anything we have in the U.S., and to see her close like she did–maybe with another 20, 30 yards, I'm not saying we'd win, but maybe we'd get second. It was just spectacular.”

The subsequent onset of the pandemic has meant that Team Grand Glory hasn't since been able to gather to cheer home their mare in person, but she has nonetheless continued to provide thrills from afar. In her first appearance since the Diane, Grand Glory won her first black-type race, the Listed Prix Zarkava at ParisLongchamp, last May, and added the G3 Prix de Flore before seasons' end.

As good as Grand Glory was at three and four, she has proven a revelation at five. After winning the G3 Grand Prix de Vichy, she came from a joint-last early to nab the defending winner and Breeders' Cup champion Audarya (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) by a short head in the G1 Prix Jean Romanet in August. The bob of the head, however, went against Grand Glory next out, and she lost the G1 Prix de l'Opera by a nose to Rougir (Fr) (Territories {Ire}), who will also be offered on Saturday.

“After she won the Romanet we were pretty excited, and then we went to the Opera and she lost by a little bit less than she won the Romanet,” Pietrangelo said. “You live by the sword you die by. You can't complain, though it was heartbreaking.”

A trip to the Breeders' Cup and subsequent sale at Fasig-Tipton November had come under consideration for Grand Glory, but with Bietolini wary of the mare's suitability to Del Mar, that plan was shelved. Just days after the Opera, it was announced that Grand Glory would sell at Arqana, but her owners weren't quite ready to call time on a mare at the top of her game. So it was decided to take up an invitation for the Japan Cup.

“We tried like heck to go, and they dropped the quarantine to three days so that made it possible, but you had to have an essential reason to travel to Japan, and owning a horse in the Japan Cup wasn't considered essential enough,” Pietrangelo said.

So Pietrangelo and his family stayed up until 1 a.m. to watch at home in Memphis as Grand Glory came home a very respectable fifth, tracking the winner Contrail (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) much of the way before getting going a bit late in the stretch, a placing no international raider has bettered in Tokyo's marquee race in the past decade.

“We're very satisfied,” Pietrangelo said. “Nobody was going to catch the winner, Contrail–that's a special horse–but I think that stretch was a bit short for her. It was incredible competition and I think it was a great experience-we're sorry we couldn't have been there with her, but we're pleased.”

“She came out of it fine,” he added. “It's hard to say I'm happy with fifth, but with that field and under the conditions, it's ok. We beat the other two foreign horses, and one of those [Broome] had finished second in the Breeders' Cup just three weeks ago, so we're pleased. I don't think she hurt her value for the sale at all. It was quite a privilege for us to have a horse invited to that race and to run respectably, which is what she did.”

One of just two current-season Group 1 winners catalogued at the sale, Grand Glory-with an outcross pedigree to boot-offers plenty of upside to breeders anywhere in the world.

“I think she's really an outstanding broodmare prospect,” Pietrangelo said. “Her demeanour-you can get in the stall with her, you could take her out and walk her, she's just so pleasant to be around. For a horse that's that good and that competitive, the only time she has an edge is on the racetrack. She's perfectly correct, she's good-sized, and she has a race record.”

“There is no stallion in Europe that you couldn't breed her to except for her own sire,” he added. “She would be an outcross with anyone, and we think that's really an exciting opportunity for her.”

Pietrangelo said high-end breeding has never been in the business plan of he or is partners-hence why Grand Glory is going through the ring-but he stressed that, naturally, they won't let her go cheaply.

“The problem with breeding from her-and we've talked about it-is that to do her justice, you need to go to one of the top sires anywhere,” he reasoned. “In Europe, you're talking a couple hundred thousand pounds. In the U.S., who are you going to breed her to? You'd have to breed her to a turf stallion so you'd go to War Front. But to do her justice you need to have a large breeder who has the resources and wherewithal to say, 'we're going to breed her to the best available.'”

“To do her right would require substantial commitment to stud fees, and that's not the level I play at,” he added. “John doesn't breed, and I don't think Al breeds, so it didn't make sense for us to change what we do. But of course if she doesn't get a price we're happy with, we'll have to change what we do. We're not going to give her away. So if we have to breed from her, we will. But we think in the hands of one of the leading breeders around, she'll be a lot better served and her offspring will have much better opportunities.”

While the pandemic has forced Pietrangelo to miss out on much of Grand Glory's Group 1 action, he is taking up the opportunity to travel to Deauville this week to see Grand Glory go through the ring. For the man who fell in love with racing going to Aqueduct Racetrack in New York to watch Dr. Fager run, the gravity of being the custodian of a mare like Grand Glory is not lost.

“She means so much,” Pietrangelo said. “Just to have a horse to do this, and to be there for the Diane; that was probably one of the best days I've had, and I've been to all the Derbys. It's very rewarding to have a mare of this calibre and to know that she's a gentle mare with a really good head, and is so pleasant to be around.”

Bozzi has already begun to replenish the partners' stable with the addition of a 2-year-old and a yearling, and Pietrangelo warned he may not be leaving Deauville empty-handed, even if Grand Glory does sell.

“Marco Bozzi is convinced we need to buy a replacement,” Pietrangelo said. “He has already told me, 'if she sells well, you're not leaving unless you buy a broodmare.' I told him if he can guarantee me one with the same ability, I might go for it.”

He added, “It's a lot of fun, and having the faith I have in Gianluca and Marco-I know Marco will pick out a good horse for us, and I know Gianluca is as good a trainer as we can have. You have to have that confidence in the people you're working with, or you probably ought to find something else to do. But we have tremendous confidence in their skills and they've proven it. It's been fun. I never thought I'd be owning horses running in Europe or Japan, but things happen.”

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