By Lucas Marquardt
Thanks to his name and hulking physical paired with ample ability, The Big Beast was a racehorse who was hard to forget. Campaigned by JoAnn and Alex Lieblong, the bay captured the GI King’s Bishop S. and placed second in both the GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. and GI Forego S. at Saratoga before retiring to stand at Ocala Stud in 2016. With his first crop of yearlings entering the sales ring this year–25 of which are catalogued at this week’s OBS October Yearling Sale–Ocala Stud’s David O’Farrell sat down with the TDN to discuss The Big Beast’s prospects.
LM: The Big Beast was obviously very well-known on the racetrack, having won the King’s Bishop and placed in two additional Grade Is at Saratoga as an older horse. Can you talk about the process of how he ended up at Ocala Stud?
DO: We obviously followed his races. He had a huge amount of name recognition and won at the highest level at Saratoga–the toughest race meet in the country and the prestige that comes with that. Being a sprinter–you know here in Florida, we’re sprint-biased–we’re always looking for stallion prospects. His sire, Yes It’s True, stood at Florida initially and was wildly popular. A lot of breeders here did very well with the horse, so I was a big fan of The Big Beast, and I happened to cross paths with Mr. Lieblong at the Keeneland September sale. I introduced myself, and told him that if and when he should happen to be retired, we’d love to have an opportunity to sit down and discuss the horse’s future.
LM: Thinking about his career, he had a very quick progression from debuting at Oaklawn early in his 3-year-old year to winning three straight races in New York, culminating with the King’s Bishop. What does that say about his talent?
DO: I think that speaks volumes to his tremendous ability, to have such a learning curve to where he can break his maiden and then very quickly go to Saratoga, win a race like the King’s Bishop, beat a very good horse in Fast Anna, run a very fast time, and come back as a 4-year-old and again run at the highest level and just miss out in the [GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt H.] to Rock Fall (Speightstown). With a horse that can get to that level very quickly, I think speaks highly about how talented they really are.
LM: How did he do in his first two years at stud?
DO: His first two years, he covered 175 mares. His foals have been very popular. We couldn’t be more excited about his chances. You can breed any type of mare to him. He’s virtually an outcross to most of our bloodlines. And he’s a horse that suits any type of mare. He’s got size, he’s very correct, and he’s just a big, strapping, good-looking horse. So, I think he appeals to a lot of different breeders, and they should be well received on the marketplace, and I think they have an opportunity to breed a top quality racehorse.
LM: From his first yearlings, are you seeing any consistencies? Or is he getting different physical types?
DO: He’s stamping his foals pretty well. They have a lot of size, a lot of leg. They’re not overly big. They’re athletic–they have enough size–but they’re not gargantuan. They’re not huge. You know, I think you can breed any type of mare to him.
LM: The fact you send your entire crop to the 2-year-old sales in the spring must make this very exciting for you. What are your expectations as the first crop of The Big Beasts start to reach the sales ring?
DO: We’re extremely optimistic about our crop going into the 2-year-old sales. One of our best yearlings is a filly that’s a half to Patternrecognition (Adios Charlie), who just won the GII Kelso H. in New York. And also half to Florida Fuego (Kantharos), who’s a multiple stakes winner back here in Florida–she’s a Big Beast filly. She covers a lot of ground. Just looks like a supreme athlete, and we’re really looking forward to her next year.