Regrouping year is latest good one for Nothhaft

By Emily Shields  
Originally published “PHBA September 2018 Newsletter
Finest City Weanling Keeneland

“Horse racing has taken me some places that I certainly would have never imagined,” said Hank Nothhaft. It rings as an ultimate understatement.

The longtime business tycoon only got into the sport as a means to an end, pursuing racing when he realized he wouldn’t be able to continue his success in the corporate world forever. “As you get older, you think about the next chapter,” he said. “The people working for me were younger and younger, I guess because I got older. Towards the end of my career it was a 40-year dichotomy between the average workforce and myself. It’s such a high energy game that I realized I couldn’t do it forever, even if I wanted to.”

Grand Prix Inside Rail Teressa Garappolo Stakes @ Pennsylvania Day at the Races

Nothhaft feared what would happen if he was suddenly forced to retire via company acquisition, and have nothing to do. “I very consciously decided I needed to get something going on the side, something as satisfying as being a CEO to high growth companies, handling hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s an adrenaline junkie life; I needed something like that.”

Nothing spurs excitement more than horse racing, which can be a fast-paced numbers game. “It would fill my need for analytics, data, and the adrenaline rush, and I could do more with less than the other guys who had more money,” Nothhaft said. But his first attempt – running horses in Northern California – didn’t succeed.

Be Envied by Lemon Drop Kid o/o While Rome Burns Produced Finest City, Grand Prix and Move while owned by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing LLC

The economic crisis in 2008, “crushed all the discretionary money endeavors,” and Nothhaft realized he needed to change his business model. “I hadn’t gotten involved with the right people. It became clear that there was no viable business opportunity running claiming races in Northern California. I got aggressive and unloaded all the horses I had; I ended up with two horses that I couldn’t place successfully.”

One of those two was Randie’s Legend, a Benchmark half-sister to stakes winners Eternal Rule and Frumious. “That’s turned out to be a great story,” Nothhaft said, but another great story unfolded first.

Randie’s Legend Northview PA

“I realized I needed to find more attractive financial footing if I was going to make a go of it,” Nothhaft said. He met Carl McIntee, who lured him out to Pennsylvania several times before Nothhaft decided the state breeder incentives were exactly what he wanted. He purchased the mare Be Envied in foal to City Zip and became the breeder of record for Pennsylvania-bred Finest City. Nothhaft sold the “quirky” filly for $50,000; she ended up in the barn of young trainer Ian Kruljac.

“I’m absolutely convinced if she had gone into a big stable she would have been lost in the shuffle,” Nothhaft said. “With the idiosyncrasies of her personality and the minor physical difficulties she overcame, it was a blessing that she ended up where she was.” That’s why Nothhaft has no residual regret about Finest City going on to earn $1,266,394 and winning the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint-G1.

And he still has something from the family, being the owner of stakes winner Grand Prix. The four-time winning Pennsylvania-bred was injured earlier this year, but is back in training at Keeneland with Ben Colebrook. “She’s got dirt and Tapeta to train on there,” Nothhaft said. Another half sibling, the winning Silver Train mare Move, was bred to Verrazano this year.

The predominant reason that Grand Prix hasn’t been retired is because Nothhaft considers it a life goal to win the Presque Isle Masters-G2 with a homebred. He’s already won it twice with Living The Life (Ire), who scored in 2014 and 2015. She missed by a head in 2016. “People want to win the Breeders’ Cup, etc., but my realistic goal is to win the Masters with a Pennsylvania-bred. I’m hoping that will be Grand Prix.”

Daddy is a Legend Weanling KY

With so many horses on the sidelines or back in training, Nothhaft notes that this is a “regrouping” year for him, but one horse he bred is tearing up the turf.  Randie’s Legend, one of the mares he couldn’t sell when leaving California, produced a Scat Daddy filly in 2015. The Pennsylvania-bred Daddy Is a Legend was sold for $140,000 as a weanling, and now races for Jim and Susan Hill and trainer George Weaver.

She won the Jimmy Durante Stakes-G3 at Del Mar as a juvenile, and added the Lake George-G3 at Saratoga on July 20.

Daddy is a Legend wins the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante @Del Mar Turf Club

In between, Daddy Is a Legend was fourth in graded stakes races at Keeneland and Belmont, and third on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs. That race, the Edgewood Stakes-G3, was run in a driving rain where Daddy Is a Legend missed the victory by a half-length behind Toinette and Breeders’ Cup winner Rushing Fall. She once again followed Rushing Fall home in her most recent effort, when third in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Lake Placid on Aug. 18.

“The fickleness of horse health is so fleeting,” Nothhaft said. “I had to be prudent and sell some of my horses, otherwise you’re not putting a lot of money back. I’m obviously tickled pink that Daddy Is a Legend got into such fantastic hands. She has proven the commerciality of Randie’s Legend and rewarded my loyalty to her.”

1st The 32Red.com All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield 18/4/14 O: Mr Henry R. Nothhaft T: Phil McEntee J: Adam Kirby

Hank Nothhaft purchased future star, Living The Life (Ire), in England in 2014

Randie’s Legend has a City Zip yearling colt and a Tiznow weanling filly, both of which Nothhaft still owns. The mare has been bred back to Candy Ride (Arg) for 2019.

“Pennsylvania has been really good to me,” he said. “I’ve figured out how to have success here whether I own them or sell them to others. It’s a fantastic program.” Fielder, who Nothhaft bred but is racing for Waldorf Racing Stables LLC, won the Marshall Jenney Stakes at Parx on July 21. He finished second in an allowance race against open company at Laurel Park three weeks later.

Nothhaft, who recently broke an ankle and tore his meniscus in a stairwell accident, will be out of action for a while but has plenty to keep his mind occupied. “I have 10 brood- mares, roughly 15 horses on their way to the track, and six or seven in training.  Right now, I don’t have any horses that I own that I didn’t breed. They’re all homebreds. I’m not in any partnerships with anybody. I’m striving for quality, not quantity. This whole sport has kept me grounded and headed in a positive direction.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HnR’s Grand Prix Road to Success

Grand Prix Inside Rail Photo Equi Photo @PARX

Published in PHBA November, 2017 Thoroughbred Report by Emily Shields

Hank Nothhaft tried to sell Grand Prix not once, but twice.

It seems serendipitous that after failing to meet her reserves in the auction ring, Grand Prix stayed home and has since become a dual stakes winner for Nothhaft, who is more than happy to have her. “She’s a super dependable filly that is right up there in my heart,” he said. “I’m so lucky to have a horse like that.”

The tale of how Grand Prix went from an auction buy back to one of the most valuable mares in Pennsylvania runs through Nothhaft, his bloodstock advisor Carl McEntee, and a champion named Finest City. Nothhaft and McEntee were on a mission to build a solid broodmare band when they came across the Lemon Drop Kid mare Be Envied.

“When we purchased the mare we were buying several mares to support the newly acquired stallion Silver Train,” McEntee said. Nothhaft stood Silver Train until his untimely death in 2013. “We had established a budget of $30,000-$50,000 per mare, as to pay more would be unwise given the potential return.”

Grand Prix (PA) with breeder/owner Hank Nothhaft pre Teresa Garofalo Stakes

One mare that stood out was Be Envied. The multiple stakes placed mare, a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Burning Roma, was in foal to consistent sire City Zip. Nothhaft only had to go to $37,000 to acquire her, with the resulting foal selling for $50,000 as a weanling. That weanling would one day be known as Finest City, the Eclipse Award Champion Female Sprinter and Pennsylvania Horse of the Year of 2016.

With Finest City not reaching her best stride until she turned four, Be Envied was resold. Nothhaft kept two more of her daughters: Move, by Silver Train, and the other being Grand Prix.

Tale of the Cat was chosen as Grand Prix’s sire, a mating based on physical appearance. “The cross was very good and the body types worked together,” McEntee said. “It’s not all paper as you must choose physicals also.”

“We wanted to pump some speed into the foal,” Nothhaft add- ed. “We got a tremendous-looking, athletic foal, and decided she was commercial. I sent her through the ring at Keeneland November as a weanling, but I wasn’t going to sell her for less than I thought she was worth. Her bidding stopped at $62,000 and my reserve was slightly higher than that. I have enough flexibility in my business that I can stick to my principles and be stubborn when I want.”

Stubborn enough that when Grand Prix went back through the ring as a yearling with a reserve of $150,000 and only brought a bid of $145,000, Nothhaft decided to keep her. “In some ways I was disappointed, but in other ways I had mixed emotions about selling her in the first place,” Nothhaft said. “I immediately took her off the grounds and back to Darby Dan. Some people came by trying to make a deal, but I named her a day or two later with a fantastic name and was emotionally committed.”

Nothhaft immediately set about following through with big plans for Grand Prix. The bay filly went to Webb Carroll’s training center in South Carolina, then went off to the barn of Gary Mandella, who trained Nothhaft’s standout mare Living The Life (Ire). “Gary is not known for bringing massive numbers of two year olds to the track,” Nothhaft said. “He takes his time getting them prepared.”

Under the banner of HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing, Grand Prix debuted at Santa Anita with a third place finish June 9, 2016. That Mandella thought highly enough of her to debut her so quickly sig- naled to Nothhaft that Grand Prix was precocious and talented, but it took the filly four tries to break her maiden. That win came at Golden Gate Fields in November, demolishing her rivals by five lengths. She was second in the Golden Gate Debutante Stakes to round out her juvenile season.

At 3, Grand Prix ran consistently in allowance company, but it wasn’t until she shipped from California to Pennsylvania that she broke through in a big way. “We had great confidence in the horse and trainer, and Finest City had emerged as a phenomenal horse at this point. In the back of our minds, we always remembered that she’s a Pennsylvania-bred.”

Grand Prix had been training in Pennsylvania for less than two weeks when she won the fittingly named New Start Stakes at Penn National over the well regarded juvenile state champion Rose Tree. “I was confident enough that I flew out for the race,” said Nothhaft, who regularly resides in Saratoga, Calif. “She didn’t disappoint anybody that day.”

From there, Nothhaft tried to “pick races that made sense for her and maximize the potential of the Pennsylvania-bred program.” Grand Prix was second in an allowance, then won at the same level a month later, scoring by a neck. She added the Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes at Parx in September, and has since wrapped up her season and will get a break before returning in 2018. She has earned $211,762 with four wins, four seconds, and three thirds in 14 starts.

Nothhaft didn’t throw out the option of sprinting down the hillside turf course at Santa Anita next year, but his ultimate goal would be the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes-G2 in September, a race he won in 2014 and 2015 with Living the Life.

“I would love to win that race with a Pennsylvania-bred,” he said. “It would be sweet for everyone involved in Pennsylvania.”

Nothhaft’s classy broodmare band, which includes stakes winners such as Kindle and Living the Life, both in foal to Pioneer of the Nile, is where Grand Prix is headed when her racing days are done.

“My goal is to have five to 10 broodmares, all ultimately coming out of my racing program. I’m running all homebreds now. For a guy that got in late and had to buy everything, in a few short years I’ve moved to vertically integrating and running my own horses.”

McEntee had nothing but praise for the owner. “Hank is honestly one of the kindest and respectable men I know. He is my friend, mentor at times and truly someone very dear to my heart. Together we have propelled each other and I shall be eternally grateful.”   

Charles Town Oaks Grand Prix (PA) Breeders Cup

Racing Biz article by Frank Vespe regarding HnR’s Grand Prix plans for Charles Town Oaks.  Frank does an excellent and accurate job of describing Grand Prix’s current status and plans.  

Racing Biz Charles Town Oaks Grand Prix’s Breeders Cup

by Frank Vespe

“Sometimes it’s the breaks you don’t get that turn out to matter most.

Take the case of Grand Prix. Her breeder, Hank Nothhaft, took her to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015, expecting to leave with more money but one less horse than he brought.

He set her reserve at $150,000. Bidding topped out at $145,000. No sale.

The sophomore is slated to make her next start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Charles Town Oaks September 23. The seven-furlong fixture tops the track’s “Race for the Ribbon” card.

“If you get into racing and you have a little moxie and a little luck, these horses can take you anywhere,” Nothhaft said. “It’s amazing.”

Grand Prix Inside Rail Photo Equi Photo @PARX

Grand Prix began her career in the California-based barn of Gary Mandella. It took her four tries to break her maiden, finally scoring on the synthetic at Golden Gate. She followed that up with a game second – beaten just a nose – in the $50,000 Golden Gate Debutante Stakes.

But for the most part, her West Coast exertions didn’t yield much benefit – just the single win in her first nine starts.

Though Nothhaft, a retired tech entrepreneur, lives in Northern California, he’s a Pennsylvania-bred, as is Grand Prix. So he decided to send the filly back East; though Mandella remains the trainer of record, Grand Prix now operates out of Keith Nations’ Parx Racing barn.

“To be a breeder and an owner to run in Pennsylvania, it’s so much better than the negligible program we have in California,” Nothhaft said.

Grand Prix &Jose Ferrer head to the Winners Circle post Garofalo Stakes

And Grand Prix has taken advantage of that rich program. She won the state-restricted New Start Stakes at Penn National on the Penn Mile undercard, followed up with a win and a second in allowance company, and last out scored by a length-and-a-half in the $100,000 Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes at Parx Racing, also a state-restricted event.

She has three wins and a second from four starts since coming east.

“All in all, she’s very consistent, fires each time, and seems to be improving,” her owner and breeder said.

In the Garofalo, Grand Prix took on older rivals, besting a field that included salty runners like the multiple stakes winners Power of Snunner and Discreet Senorita.

Still, Nothhaft acknowledges that the water figures to be deeper in the Oaks. The race has drawn 52 nominations. Among the expected runners is Shimmering Aspen, the Rodney Jenkins-trained filly who has dominated at sprint distances at Laurel Park this season.

“I think there’ll be some really nice fillies there,” Nothhaft admitted. “I think it’ll end up being a very interesting race. We would be very happy if she finished in the top three.”

To that end, Nothhaft and his trainers have developed what he called “a detailed plan” to help her acclimate to the surroundings at Charles Town, a place neither she nor Nothhaft has ever raced. She’ll ship in a few days ahead of the race and get a chance to gallop over the track a time or two prior to race day.

“If you’re going to go through all of the trouble of going, you want to make sure you do everything you can to give her a chance,” Nothhaft explained.

Nothhaft also intends to stick with jockey Jose Ferrer, who rode Grand Prix to victory in the Garofalo Memorial.

“First, he gave her a great ride that day,” Nothhaft said by way of explanation. “Second, he’s won (almost 4,200) races.”

For the longer term, Nothhaft hopes to race her through her five-year-old season. After that he intends to breed her. He has, he said, “no intention” of selling her despite her rising value.

Nothhaft has been involved in racing since 2008. He’s bred some good horses. He’s owned some good horses. He’s also slogged through all the ways that the sport can fool or foil you. He knows what sort of opportunity is there for Grand Prix.

“You really need these successes to get you over those valleys of despair,” he said. “For Grand Prix, this is our Breeders’ Cup.” “

 

HnR’s Grand Prix (PA) wins Garofalo Memorial Stakes Wire to Wire

Grand Prix becomes Multiple Stakes Winner against older rivals at PA Day at the Races Stakes Card at PARX in Bensalem PA

Grand Prix found the fast track at Parx to her liking and won the Garofalo Memorial Stakes wire to wire unchallenged by her older rivals.  This was her 3rd win in 4 starts since moving from CA to PA to take advantage of the PA_BRED incentive program.  Grand Prix is now in the top 50  of approximately 6500 three year old fillies to race based on 2017 earnings.   HnR Grand Prix connections are planning a start in a graded stakes next time out.

Race Video  Video Link via Bloodhorse Magazine
Grand Prix Inside Rail Photo Equi Photo @PARX

Below is an excellent summary of the race that appeared in the Thoroughbred Daily News on Sept 2nd.

Thoroughbred Daily News Sept 2, 2017

  1. TERESA GAROFALO MEMORIAL S., $107,750, PRX, 9-2, (S),

3yo/up, f/m, 6f, 1:10.06, ft.

Grand Prix (PA) finish line photo lost her right front shoe sometime during the race.  Crosses the finish line with no shoe on.  Equi Photo @PARX Garofalo Memorial Stakes
1–GRAND PRIX, 122, f, 3, Tale of the Cat–Be Envied (MSP,

$200,697), by Lemon Drop Kid. ($62,000 RNA Wlg ’14 KEENOV; $145,000 RNA Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O/B-HnR Nothhaft

Horse Racing, LLC (PA); T-Gary Mandella; J-Jose C. Ferrer.

$60,000. Lifetime Record: 13-4-4-2, $207,750. *1/2 to Finest City (City Zip), Ch. Female Sprinter, GISW, $1,256,394.

2–Mama Jones, 119, f, 4, Smarty Jones–Mohonour, by Honour and Glory. O-Someday Farm; B-Patricia L. Chapman (PA);

T-John C. Servis. $25,000.

3–Power of Snunner, 126, m, 7, Power by Far–Snunner, by Yarrow Brae. O/B-James M. Courtney (PA); T-Timothy C. Kreiser. $13,750.

Margins: 1HF, HD, HD. Odds: 2.90, 16.30, 2.40.

Also Ran: Discreet Senorita, Hey Braciole, Campeona, Anais.

Members of the Garofalo Family joined HnR Grand Prix Connections in Winners Circle 

Grand Prix | Equi-Photo

Grand Prix recorded her first career black-type win on the dirt in the New Start S. against state-bred foes at Penn National June 3 before finishing runner-up amongst allowance company going five panels on the grass here June 26. Victorious in the Penn slop July 22, she was given ample support to make it two straight while returning to stakes company.

Grand Prix chilling before race Photo Hank Nothhaft

On the engine from the start, the bay steadily increased her advantage through crisp fractions of :21.90 and :44.51, was clear while drifting out in the stretch and kept it going all the way home to best Mama Jones. Favored Discreet Senorita was fourth.

Be Envied, a half sister to GI Futurity S. winner Burning Roma (Rubiano), is also responsible for champion female sprinter and millionairess Finest City (City Zip), who earned her biggest career victory in the GI Breeders= Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The

15-year-old mare produced a full-brother to Grand Prix in 2015, prior to aborting the following season.

The Daily Racing Form also published a race summary authored by Jim Dunleavy presented below:

Daily Racing Form Garofalo Stakes by Jim Dunleavy

“Garofalo Memorial: Grand Prix wire to wire

Grand Prix, a 3-year-old daughter of Tale of the Cat, went wire to wire to defeat older Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares in the $107,750 Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes.

Grand Prix, the 5-2 third choice in the betting, sprinted clear early in the six-furlong race, then was never seriously challenged while winning by 1 1/2 lengths. She paid $7.80 and was timed in 1:10.06. The race was run in the rain over a fast track.

Grand Prix is trained by Gary Mandella, was ridden by Jose Ferrer, and is owned by Hank Nothhaft. She has been based at Delaware Park and Parx since May.

She won the $101,000 New Start Stakes over statebred 3-year-old fillies at Penn National on the Penn Mile card June 3.

Mama Jones, a 16-1 shot, raced forwardly throughout and held second by a head over the late-running Power of Snunner. Discreet Senorita, the slight 2-1 favorite over Power of Snunner, was bumped and squeezed back at the start. She rallied along the inside into the stretch but was caught late for third by Power of Snunner, who finished a head in front of her.

Grand Prix (PA) Proud Owner and Breeder wearing Coolmore Jacket in support GP Sire Tale of the Cat and Finest City Hat 1/2 Sister of Grand Prix

Grand Prix, who was bred by her owner, is now 4 for 13 with earnings of $207,750.”

 

Coolmore Coverage
MORE STAKES SUCCESS FOR GRAND PRIX

Evergreen Coolmore stalwart Tale of the Cat is the sire of progressive filly Grand Prix (3f Tale of the Cat x Be Envied, by Lemon Drop Kid), who landed another Black type victory when taking out the $107,750 Dr Teresa Garafalo Memorial Stakes at Parx Racing on Saturday .

A homebred for HnR Nothhaft Horseracing trained by Gary Mandella, Grand Prix raced clear to win the six furlong sprint by a length and a half.

Ultra-consistent, Grand Prix has the overall record of four wins and six placings from 13 starts with prizemoney topping $200,000.

Grand Prix is bred to be good as a half-sister to 2016 Champion US Female Sprinter and winner of the 2016 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Finest City.

Grand Prix is the third winner from stakes-placed Be Envied, a half-sister to Grade I winner Burning Roma.

The Paulick Report Coverage

Paulick Report Garofalo Stakes

“HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing’s Grand Prix was a sharp, front running winner of the $100,000 Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares three and up. The 3 year-old daughter of Tale of the Cat broke sharply and was in front after the first sixteenth of a mile. She’d opened a clear lead after hitting the quarter in a quick 21.90 and from there, was never really threatened. She led by two entering the far turn, three approaching the top of the stretch and then was geared down late by winning jockey Jose Ferrer to win by an official margin of a length and a half. Trained by Gary Mandella, Grand Prix went off as third choice in the wagering at 5-2 and paid $7.80 to win. She covered the six furlongs in 1:10.06”

Grand Prix (PA) Wins New Start Stakes-Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbreds Aug 2017

Around the Ovals Penn National-New Start Stakes

By Linda Dougherty

Around the Ovals Penn National Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred

Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Magazine August, 2017

After beginning her career in California, HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing’s homebred Grand Prix made the first foray in the state of her birth a successful one as she tri­umphed in the $100,000 New Start Stakes, the first stakes on the Penn Mile undercard.

A half-sister to champion Finest City, also bred by Hank Nothhaft, Grand Prix was sent off as the second choice behind 2016 Pennsylvania-bred champion 2-year­ old filly Rose Tree. With Javier Castellano aboard for trainer Gary Mandella, Grand Prix stalked the early pace set by long-shot Risque’s Diamond through the opening quarter of the 6-furlong test.

While racing outside horses, the winner then took the lead on the turn and increased that lead to 2 lengths in mid-stretch. Castellano kept her mind on business to the wire and she won by a length over the rallying Rose Tree. The final time was 1:09.61.

“As I watched the race and the splits unfold 21.90, 44.61, 56.77 and saw her hold off a really nice filly like Rose Tree, she actually exceeded my already­ high expectations,” said Nothhaft, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who races in California and in Pennsylvania, and is a strong supporter of the Pennsylvania breeding program. “My thoughts as she came across the finish line were one of pride and thinking how cool that she’s living up to her name- Grand Prix – as well as her big sister Finest City.”

Nothhaft, who stood the late stallion Silver Train at Northview PA, where Grand Prix was foaled, shipped the daughter of Tale of the Cat to Pennsylvania from California several weeks before the New Start Stakes to take advantage of the state’s incentive program . ” Grand Prix is a late foal [April 28) and is still maturing,” said Nothhaft.

“Also , she runs well on turf, dirt and Tapeta. Depending on her performance going forward I can shoot for the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes-G2 in September or fall back on the original plan to pursue the Pennsylvania-bred circuit.

Being from Sharon, Pa., the Masters is a special race for me, and maybe Grand Prix will get me back there for the fourth year in a row.” Living The Life (IRE), a multiple graded stakes winner and millionaire campaigned by Nothhaft, won the Masters in 2014 and ’15 and finished second in 2016. Grand Prix, out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Be Envied, earned S60,000 for the New Start and sub subsequently finished second in a June 26 allowance at Penn National against older mares to boost her career bankroll to $126,510.    

Grand Prix (PA) captures 1st Stakes Title New Start Stakes

After an impressive outing at Santa Anita on May 11, 2017 in an open Allowance Race on the downhill turf course,  HnR decided to ship her to Pennsylvania to take advantage of the lucrative PABRED Stakes program.  Grand Prix, trained by Gary Mandella, arrived in good order in PA via Tex Sutton Horse Transport.

Grand Prix jogs to the Winner's Circle
Grand Prix jogs to the Winner’s Circle

Based on her race fitness and positive conditioning at Delaware Park in Keith Nation’s Barn, we decided to run her the New Start Stakes, a 6 furlong sprint on the dirt for 3 year old PABRED fillies on June 3rd at Penn National in Grantville, Pa.  The New Start Stakes was part of a 7 stakes program including the prestigious Pennsylvania Mile and the Governor’s Cup.  Javier Castellano, 4 time Eclipse Award Winning jockey was booked to ride Grand Prix.

HAPPY HOMECOMING FOR NOTHHAFT AS GRAND PRIX TAKES NEW START

Click the above link for Racing Biz Article by Frank Vespe

Grand Prix broke sharply, maintained a position of stalking the leaders about a length off the lead before asserting herself at the 1/4 pole, maintaining her lead to the end of the race, besting undefeated, stakes winner and PA 2 yo filly of the year Rose Tree.  We were not only gratified that she won impressively, but her splits and final times of 1:09.61 were certainly on the high end of our range of expectations.  Grand Prix came out of the race 100% and will stay on the east coast.   We are currently planning at least 3 more races before assessing our next move with her.  Photos by B n D Photography.

 

Trophy Presentation by Brian Sanfratello PHBA Executive Director to Javier Castellano and Hank Nothhaft
Trophy Presentation by Brian Sanfratello PHBA Executive Director to Javier Castellano and Hank Nothhaft Observed by Northview Stallions Paul O’Laughlin

Finest City-Beats the Odds Becomes 1st PABRED Breeders‘ Cup Champion in 20 Years

Finest City-Beats the Odds

Becomes 1st PABRED Breeders‘ Cup Champion in 20 Years

by Hank Nothhaft

Those who participate in thoroughbred horse breeding and racing know that it can be unbelievably exhilarating or an unforgiving, unpredictable arena.  Just the minute you think you have it figured out, some humbling occurrence ensues making you wonder how on earth you got into such a tough business (sport).  So when events take a benign, favorable turn, one tries to enjoy the glow for as long as possible to blunt the inevitable future valleys of gloom.

 

The finalists for the Thoroughbred industry’s Eclipse Awards, equivalent to Hollywood’s Academy Awards, were announced this week.  Finest City, a four year old, PABRED filly by City Zip is one of the three finalists for the Female Sprint Category.  Given her accomplishments and victory in head to head competition over her rivals, Finest City has an excellent chance to add an Eclipse Trophy to her growing list of honors.

 Finest City BC Poster 12:29:16

As her breeder, it was thrilling to see Finest City win the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November at Santa Anita Park.  Though the exhilaration of the moment has faded, a quiet, enduring and sustaining satisfaction remains as a reminder of why involvement with thoroughbreds can be so rewarding.

 

Finest City Surges to Win Breeders Cup Photo Kevin Kraynak
Finest City Surges to Win Breeders Cup Photo Kevin Kraynak


The breeding of Finest City was the direct result of my efforts to create a well pedigreed, race proven, black type broodmare band for Breeders’ Cup Champion Silver Train., who I purchased from Vinery in Kentucky to stand at Northview in Pennsylvania.  I was ably assisted in this quest by Bloodstock Agent Carl McEntee, then of Northview PA, now of Darby Dan Farm in KY.

 

Finest City First PABRED Breeders' Cup Winner in 20 Years
Finest City First PABRED Breeders’ Cup Winner in 20 Years

 

It also was not a “fluke” in the sense that a great deal of thought and effort was applied to the process of acquiring the mare Be Envied in foal to City Zip that produced Finest City.  Be Envied’s enviable resume—she’s a half sister to grade I winner Burning Roma— is full of class, flawless, elegant, impeccable top and bottom complimented by her sire, Lemon Drop Kid.  In my opinion, Lemon Drop Kid, an emerging leading broodmare sire, should get credit for producing horses that can run extremely well on all surfaces at classic distances.

 

Due to many hours pursuing various mares, Be Envied was purchased at the bargain price of $37,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November Sale.   This was the result of spending several days analyzing pedigrees of mares in the catalogue, inspecting them, assessing physical fit with Silver Train, creating our short list, bidding on our top picks, often getting out bid or hitting our budgetary limits.  We ultimately purchased three mares in foal during the Keeneland November 2011-mixed stock sale.  However, no more or less effort went into the decisions, preparations and care of Finest City than any of our preceding or subsequent breeding decisions.  Our goal was to buy mares compatible with Silver Train whose foals could be kept for racing or sold for at least what we paid for the mare in foal, thus recouping our investment in the first twelve months.  We actually exceeded this goal by a wide margin.  On the other hand, winning the Breeders’ Cup was never discussed, not to mention that the odds of this occurring are lottery like.  More discussion on Breeders’ Cup odds later.  Therefore, when Finest City won the Breeders’ Cup, it was not fulfillment of a dream, because this was not a dream we ever dared dream.

 

Be Envied by Lemond Drop Kid Bargain Purchase $37,000

 

Be Envied by Lemond Drop Kid Bargain Purchase $37,000
Be Envied by Lemond Drop Kid Bargain Purchase $37,000

From the time of her birth, Finest City was a beautiful, well-balanced athletic filly. The fact that Finest City looked very commercial and could command a handsome price influenced my decision to sell her rather than keep to race.  As a technology entrepreneur trying to transfer his skills to the “Horse Business”, I viewed this as a good opportunity to generate some cash flow, nothing more or nothing less. This was a change of heart, since I already named her City Envy to honor her Sire and Dame, in anticipation of racing her.  As a result, Finest City (AKA City Envy) became the first horse that I bred and sold at auction, highlighting my status as a novice breeder.

 

Finest City Northview MD with Hank
Finest City Northview MD with Hank

After our decision to sell her at the Keeneland November 2012 Mixed Sale, we hired Hunter Valley as our consignor, prepped her at Northview Maryland and sent her to Lexington.  Ultimately, though she showed well, was very popular, some minor stifle issues kept the price well below our expectations and sold right on our reserve for $50,000.  We were very disappointed with this price as we expected to get well over a $100,000 for her.   She was purchased by Cobra Racing who pin-hooked her and sold her as a yearling at the September 2013 yearling sale at Keeneland. to Seltzer Thoroughbreds of San Diego, CA, hence the name Finest City,

 

Subsequently, we’ve had the good fortune of selling several additional weanlings at Keeneland for six figure sums up to` $250,000.  All their pedigrees are similarly attractive as Finest City and were nearly flawless physical specimens. So far, none have come close to Finest City’s accomplishments though some have shown promise.  We also bred a number of horses from the Silver Train program who are just plain average and have produced results within industry norms, not to mention a few who had physical issues that precluded any racing career at all.  I mention this only to highlight the obvious, that a powerful pedigree and physical perfection don’t necessarily correlate to racing success.  Soundness, the intangible competitive fire of the horse, intelligence, timing and luck all play a role.

 

So how long were the odds for a PABRED Breeders’ Cup Winner?

 

First there have only been four PABRED Breeders’ Cup Champions, including Finest City, since the Breeders’ Cup’s initial races in 1984 at Hollywood Park, CA.  The other three are Go for Wand, Tikkanen and Alphabet Soup.

 

The great two times Eclipse Award winning Go for Wand is the initial PABRED Breeders’ Cup winner, having won the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Gulfstream Park.  A Christiana Stable homebred by Deputy Minister, she entered the Hall of Fame in 1996, fueled by 7 Grade 1 wins in 13 career starts.  Harry Lunger and his wife Jane DuPont Lunger founded Christiana Stables, named for the community of Christiana, Delaware, in 1937.  Having campaigned at least 45 stakes winners, these are the type of breeders and owners that you expect to win a Breeders Cup.

 

Two Time Eclipse Award Winner Go For Wand (PA)
Two Time Eclipse Award Winner Go For Wand (PA)

Oddly, I have a personal connection to the Lunger family that strikes me as at least a strange coincidence.  While serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1968-1969, one of the officers I worked closely with was Lt. Brett Lunger, Jane and Harry Lunger’s son.  Brett, a very dynamic and energetic leader, went on to be one of the first American drivers in Formula 1 in 1975.   Maybe some good karma got passed via this relationship.

 

Cozzene BC Mile Winner Sire of Tikkanen & Alphabet Sout
Cozzene BC Mile Winner Sire of Tikkanen & Alphabet Sout

Tikkanen is the 2nd PABRED Champion via his win in the 1994 Breeders Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in KY with Mike Smith up.  Tikkanen, a homebred like Go For Wand, sired by Breeders’ Cup Mile Winner Cozenne, was bred and campaigned by George Strawbridge, Jr., a perennial leading breeder in PA and a person who you would expect to win a Breeders’ Cup Championship Race.

 

Tikkanen (PA) by Cozenne
Tikkanen (PA) by Cozenne

The third PABRED Breeders’ Cup Champion is the beloved Alphabet Soup who won the Classic in 1986.  He was also sired by Cozenne and became one of Cozenne’s 14 millionaire offspring including Tikkanen.  Southeast Associates, headed by Roy S. Lerman, bred and sold him privately to Californian Georgia B. Ridder as a two year old.  In a 24 Race career that netted him earnings of $2.990,270, Alphabet Soup only raced twice outside of California.  In the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Woodbine, ON, Cigar, tried to become the first horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in consecutive years, but fell short by a half-length, finishing third in his farewell race, behind 20-1 shot Alphabet Soup under Chris McCarron, who bested Preakness Stakes winner Louis Quatorze by a nose.  Alphabet Soup went on to stud duty until his retirement to “Old Friends” in Lexington, KY.

 

Alphabet Soup Settling in at Old Friends in Lexington KY
Alphabet Soup Settling in at Old Friends in Lexington KY

After a twenty-year hiatus, Finest City became the 4th PABRED Breeders’ Cup Winner with Mike Smith up, giving him claim to riding 50% of PA’s Breeders’ Cup Winners.   Like Alphabet Soup, owned by a Californian, Finest City has never raced outside of CA.  Speaking of 50%, Finest City ended up with an up and coming young trainer (28 years old) Ian Kruljac, whose total career starts total 24 of which 14 are Finest City.  Always in the hunt after breaking sharply from post 12 in a field of 13, Finest City and jockey Mike Smith held off the oncoming Wavell Avenue to prevail by three-quarters of a length. Paulassilverlining was third, another 1 1/4 lengths back.  Paulassilverlining is one of Finest City’s chief protagonists for this year’s Eclipse.

Finest City will attempt BC repeat at Del Mar 2017 Photo Kevin Kraynak
Finest City will attempt BC repeat at Del Mar 2017 Photo Kevin Kraynak

 

Let’s take a look at some of the raw numbers involved in winning a Breeders’ Cup Race with a PABRED to see how daunting a task it is.  Since its’ inception, there have been 288 Breeders’ Cup Champions, 4 from PA (no adjustment for repeat winners) or 1.4%. These 288 champions had to vanquish a total pool of horses estimated to be around 3000 of the best horses in the world.  Since 1996, the last time a PABRED won, there have been 214 winners including one by Finest City or about .5 (1/2) a percent.

 

Let’s look at the numbers from a PA perspective. Since 1995 there have been approximately 23,000 foals born and registered in PA.  Of this pool, roughly 14,500 made at least one start in a race.  This makes Finest City 1 of 23,000/14,500 respectively.  The percentages are obviously miniscule:  less that one ten thousandth in both categories (0.00004/0.00006).  Assuming the foal crop is 50% fillies, the percentages remain less than a ten thousandth.

 

From a national level the odds are even longer since PA generally produces less than 3% of the registered crop (Range 1995 to 2015-2.2% to 5.4%) Then of course, globalization means that horses from 19 other countries were entered in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup.   This makes the mountain even higher.

 

The long and short of these numbers is that PABRED Finest City winning the Breeders’ Cup was a tall order overcoming stratospheric odds.  Then again, to be a thoroughbred breeder is playing the DNA lottery, though breeding the “best to the best” reduces the odds a bit, the odds remain extremely long.  There’s always the real possibility for inexplicable magic to occur.  One look no further than the amazing California Chrome, the result of breeding a mare by a regional sire who won an $8,000 maiden claiming race in a 6 race career that netted $7,000 and an E number of 64, to a sire standing for a $1500 stud fee, and two guys who dreamed the big dream.  As long as the chance exists to create the wonder of the “next big horse” the art, science and mystery of thoroughbred breeding and racing will continue to produce the inexplicable and attract a large, broad range of optimists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Mark “HnR’s Breeders’ Cup Win”

Nothhaft ranks Finest City score in Breeders’ Cup among top achievements  

Article Written by Tom Law

Published in Mid Atlantic Thoroughbred Magazine Dec, 2016  

Breeders’ Cup Photos courtesy Racing Heart Photography

Photos from HnR Nothhaft Horseracing Library who holds rights to utilize on HnRRacing.com

Henry R “Hank” Nothhaft got involved with racing toward the tail end of a career in the high-technology industry knowing he’d need a challenge and something to feel passionate about as retirement loomed.

“I’d gotten into the horse racing business because I knew that being in high tech, that I’d retire, the inevitable cycle of life,” Nothhaft said.  “I’m still very interested in it, but I don’t have the overwhelming passion that I had when I first got in it, so I was looking for something else to do.  So approximately 10 years ago I got involved. “

“I didn’t know anything to tell you the truth.  I didn’t know how little I really knew.  I thought I knew about it, but after a while I realized how naive I really was.” Nothhaft, a first generation American who grew up in Western Pennsylvania and runs his operation HnR Nothhaft Horseracing, admits he’s still got plenty to learn, but he also knows now what it feels like to breed a winner at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.  Nothhaft found that out Nov. 5 as Pennsylvania-bred Finest City upset the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint G1 at Santa Anita Park.

Ironically Nothhaft’s first Breeders’ Cup victory came in a race he was expected to be represented as an owner, with Living the Life (IRE), who missed the race due to injury.  Nothhaft watched the Breeders’ Cup from his home in Saratoga CA, with his family, and Finest City’s three-quarter-length win over 2015 Filly and Mare Sprint winner Wavell Avenue factored heavily in a huge weekend for her breeder.

The day after Finest City’s victory, Nothhaft was on hand at Golden Gate Fields to see her 2 year old half-sister, the Pennsylvania-bred Tale of the Cat filly Grand Prix, break her maiden in her fourth start.  Nothhaft relished those victories, along with several other on Breeders’ Cup weekend that bolstered his breeding program.  “Given my horses and who I’m planning on breeding to, it couldn’t have been any better,” he said.  “I have a Gio Ponti and a Gio Ponti won (the Sprint) with Drefong.  I haves a Pioneer of the Nile and I’m considering him as the breeding choice for Living the Life and Kindle, another mare I own.  He won (the Juvenile) with Classic Empire.  I have a Tiznow colt on the ground and Tourist won (the Mile).  I’m a City Zip maniac and Finest City won.

“So how could you have a better day than that, short of Living the Life not having won the race?  And not to mention Navy beat Notre Dame for the 13th time in 90 years Saturday.  How could you haves a better day than that?”

smallNV.Hank_.Nothhaft.23

Henry R. “Hank” Nothhaft @Northview PA

The seedlings of Nothhaft’s memorable weekend were planted back in 2011, when he and bloodstock agent Carl McEntee worked the Keeneland November breeding stock sales in search of broodmare prospects.  Nothhaft met McEntee, formerly of Ghost Ridge Farm and Northview PA in Pennsylvania and now with Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky, during the re-syndication of champion Smarty Jones.  The two also worked on the purchase of Pennsylvania stallion Silver Train and were shopping for mares to breed to the son of Old Trieste when Be Envied went through the ring at Keeneland.  “My goal was to support Silver Train,”

Nothhaft said.  “I had a really strong belief in the Pennsylvania incentives, both the breeding and owners’ awards.  I had a little bit of an emotional attachment to the State considering I was born there.”  “I started to develop a broodmare band to support the sire.  We set a budget, had criteria we were looking for and we were buying in foal mares at auctions.  Considering a guy like me getting involved at such a late stage you’ve got to buy mares in foal if you’re going to accelerate your entry into the industry, unless you’re just writing blank checks and giving all your profits to somebody else.  Having been a a high-tech entrepreneur I was thinking about building a business from scratch, putting capital in, doing a lot of boot-strapping of the business.  That was my mentality.”

Nothhaft bought Be Envied for $37,000.  She was sold in foal to City Zip and the resulting foal born at Northview PA in Peach Bottom in 2012 was Finest City.  Understanding the realities of running  his breeding program like any other business and looking to generate cash flow, Nothhaft entered the weanling City Zip filly, then named City Envy in the 2012 Keeneland November sale.  “I’d named the horse so I wasn’t planning on selling, but after looking at the foals on one of my trips to Pennsylvania and some casual conversations, we said, “Let’s seriously consider selling this foal if we can get enoughmoney for it,” Nothhaft said.  “Enough money would be over $100,000 for a weanling out of a mare we paid $37,000 for.  She was vetted, she was beautiful, we moved her to Northview Maryland to do sales prep and everything was rolling.  We hired Hunter Valley Farm, which is a high-end and reputable consignor.  They’re great for a guy like me.  We got her down to Kentucky, prep her and we’re all very optimistic.  At the sale she’s getting a lot of looks and scopes.  She was on fire.”

Be Envied 12 Finest City Hunter Valley Keeneland

City Envy (now) Finest City and Hank Nothhaft Keeneland November Sale

Nothhaft, McEntee and Hunter Valley’s Fergus Galvin hoped the filly would bring as much as $150,000 after all the presale action, but were conservative in putting her reserve at $50,000.  “When she sold I went in the room–this was the first horse I ever bred that I sold–and there was some bidding initially but it started slow; ran up in small increments,” Nothhaft said.  “The last bid was $50,000 and she sold.  I couldn’t understand it, Fergus couldn’t understand it, Carl couldn’t understand it.  Well, we go back and it comes to our attention that we thought the X-rays were clean, but it turns out the last set taken weren’t completely clean.  She had a small OCD issue, and selling as a weanling basically to pinhookers, that’s tough.  The people that were looking at her were flunking her and moving on to somebody else, but we didn’t know it at the time.” Cobra Farm bought the filly, and resold her for $85,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale to Seltzer Thoroughbreds, which celebrated her victory in the Filly and Mare Sprint with trainer Ian Kruljac.

Finest City 6

Finest City with Mike Smith up makes winning Breeders’ Cup Move

Nothhaft bred Be Envied to Silver Train and she produced a filly, subsequently named Move in 2013.  Nothhaft sent Be Envied to Tale of the Cat in 2013, the resulting foal being the winner Grand Prix, and Silver Train died after standing in the Southern Hemisphere in December 2013.  Be Envied was bred to Tale of Ekati and later in the year was entered in the Keeneland November sale.  She failed to meet her reserve on a final bid of $24,000, but was sold privately after going through the ring to representatives of breeders in India.

GRAND PRIX ACT 2

Grand Prix Wins Maiden with ease

Nothhaft said he doesn’t regret selling Finest City or Be Envied.  “I race, maybe if I was only a breeder I would have second thoughts, but I know the racing risk, and how these animals are,” he said.  “I’m so happy for these people and the success they had.  They did all the right moves.  During all of this I’ve been nothing but elated for the horse, the connections and everybody involved.  They bought an animal that had some known issues at that time, but were willing to take the risk.  On top of that you still had all the racing luck issues you deal with anyway.  Plus I own the two half sisters so I’m ecstatic.”

Though he was the only winner, Nothhaft wasn’t the only Mid-Atlantic breeder at the Breeder’s Cup.  Six horses bred in the region competed in the 13 races-four in Pennsylvania, one in Maryland and one in Virginia.

City Envy Mar 30 2012

 Finest City day old foal @Northview Stallion Station PA

Grand Prix Yearling

Grand Prix Yearling

Be Envied 2014 Sep 10 2014

 

Grand Prix Weanling

Move TBD Jan 20 2016

 Move by Silver Train out of Be Envied

Be Envied

 Be Envied by Lemon Drop Kid