Chris McGrath

Collector a Local Hero for Lunsford

"The Homeboy, I call him: the Louisville Homeboy." Bruce Lunsford gives a proud chuckle. "With Tommy, and Brian, we've made it an all-Louisville crowd. So that's kind of fun. In fact, when we laid out a plan, one of the good things was that we could get all the way to the Breeders' Cup without leaving Kentucky. I think that's an advantage, but who knows?" One thing he does know: he would prefer to cede the limelight to those unsung horsemen, Tom Drury, Jr. and Brian Hernandez, Jr. But if...

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Omega to Alpha, A Breeder Who Knows Horses Inside Out

If anything, you would think it the very last thing that might appeal to one who has spent decades acquainting himself, at viscerally close quarters, with all the things that can go wrong with a Thoroughbred. Yet here he is, sharing the same vicissitudes as those clients for whom--weighing the ups and downs of their trade--his veterinary skills so long served as a vital fulcrum. As one of the original partners of the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Dr. Scott Pierce could scarcely have gone into breeding with fewer illusions....

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Mike Cline to Retire as Lane’s End Farm Manager

Mike Cline, "the only farm manager Lane's End has ever known," according to a press release from the farm announcing the news, is retiring after a 40-year career at the storied nursery. "It would be hard to overstate Mike's importance to Lane's End and everything that has happened here since the farm's inception," said Will Farish, "I hired Mike back in 1979 and he has overseen everything from the broodmares, to stallions, to sales, to barn construction, to pasture maintenance." Many successful people in the industry came up under Cline's...

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Juvenile Market Crash Not the Full Picture

Last year, an ongoing bull run in the North American bloodstock market carried the juvenile sector to a historic breakthrough. For the first time, aggregate turnover broke the $200 million barrier. The momentum felt so giddy that the next milestone, with the mean cost of a 2-year-old standing at $95,807, promised to be a six-figure average. No market, of course, can sustain perennial growth. Capitalism requires recession to regenerate value. While these cycles will ideally be mild, this particular market is always especially exposed to any incipient weakness. Very often,...

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Letter to the Editor: Ellen Parker

In "Art Collector Puts Sire Back in the Frame" (TDN 7/16/2020) Chris McGrath comments that "Whatever the reason, I am convinced that compounded, proven distaff influences represent a far better foundation for a pedigree than the supposed alchemies flimsily peddled between given sire-lines." I couldn't agree more, which is why I created the Reine de Course (Queens of the Turf) series of influential mares and have been updating it for the past 40 years. As Bull Hancock famously said, "the family is stronger than the individual." At the end of...

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Diversity in Racing: The British Experience

For a window on the diversity of the British Turf, you've probably come to the right place. White, male, middle-aged, straight: all boxes checked there, I think. But if that is very much the stereotype, then at least the authorities here have acknowledged as much; and there is a corporate determination to do something about it. Nor is this merely some perfunctory response to the incendiary confluence, around the world, of a looming economic recession and the protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd. Even in 2017, admittedly, action...

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Speed Helps Violence Break Grade I Barrier

As his name suggests, there appear to be no half measures with Violence. He had, let's face it, suddenly been under a bit of pressure. It was only last year that Hill 'n' Dale had been able to hoist his fee from $25,000 to $40,000, his first sophomores having confirmed him as the most glamorous stallion in his intake: clear top of the class in 2018 by earnings, winners, stakes winners/performers, graded stakes horses. Having started out at $15,000, he had just processed his third crop of yearlings for an...

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This Side Up: Inside-Out Classic Has Redemptive Potential

The last shall be first; and the longest, shortest. Insofar, that is, as we have a Triple Crown series at all. This year, to many, the GI Belmont S. is just another mile-and-eighth GI Kentucky Derby prep, conveniently loaded with qualifying points. For those deigning to line up, however, an asterisk is a perfectly acceptable price for becoming a 152nd consecutive name in the annals of the oldest Classic, extending all the way back to Ruthless at Jerome Park. The modern ruthless can perhaps be found at Churchill Downs instead--albeit...

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War of Will Back to Advance Casse’s Fame

His thoughts, on Wednesday, turned naturally to his late father. How could they not? Mark Casse was only 11 or 12 when he toured the Hall of Fame in Saratoga with the man whose passion for the Thoroughbred was already lighting a path for his whole future. "I'm going to be in here someday," the boy announced. Most fathers think they know how to respond to a remark like that. "Sure you will. You'll be the janitor." But Norman E. Casse was different. As usual, they were camping in their...

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Europeans Applaud American Sales Decision

Everyone in the bloodstock industry can see the bump in the road ahead. It's just a case of getting across without causing lasting damage to the engine. As such, European horsemen Tuesday applauded the dovetailing of North America's premier yearling sales as the type of wholesome collaboration required to tackle a crisis that transcends borders and oceans, never mind commercial rivalries. True, one or two quibbles could be heard on the other side of the pond. On the whole, however, Monday's announcement by Fasig-Tipton—positioning a two-day sale in Lexington, as...

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This Side Up: The Authentic Potential of Charlatan

"Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes." So said the man who instead gave us a means of measuring tremors once they have actually happened, Charles Richter. But how about when an earthquake announces a Charlatan? Because on the equivalent of the Richter scale, for those who try to quantify a horse's talent against the clock, a 105 debut Beyer for 'TDN Rising Star' Charlatan (Speightstown) at Santa Anita last month represented a convulsion that brought every other member of his crop crumbling to the ground. Some even whispered the...

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Kentucky Value Sires 2020, Part V: First 3-Year-Olds

After surveying the four intakes since, each still safely immune from judgement on the track itself, today we finally reach the first group of stallions who have actually tested their ability to replicate the talent that first earned them--however marginally, in some cases--a place at stud. Their first juveniles, last year, at least permitted some initial response to any erosion of their reputations, through the notoriously jittery and impressionable consensus of the yearling market. Yet there are few more instructive indices of the odds against them than the contrast between...

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