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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tale of two legends

Photo Randie’s Legend Northview PA

by Emily Shields

Published in

PA Thoroughbred Newsletter / Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Magazine February 2018 Issue 

The victory by Daddy Is a Legend in the Jimmy Durante Stakes-G3 was the culmi­nation of 10 years of perseverance by her breeder, Hank Nothhaft. He believed in her dam, Randie’s Legend, despite her frustrating history both at the track and in the breeding shed. Now Daddy Is a Legend has earned$107,910 in just four starts for owners Jim and Susan Hill.

Daddy is a Legend Margaux Farm KY
Photo Carl McEntee

Randie’s Legend, a California Bred by Benchmark out of the Gold Legend mare Eternal Legend, cost Nothhaft $43,000 at the 2008 Barrett’s October Yearling Sale.  Although Eternal Legend never raced, her dam Eternal Search was a three-time Sovereign Award winner in Canada.

Eternal Legend had already produced the horse that would become Grade 2 winner Frumious, and one year after Eternal Legend would throw graded stakes placed stakes winner Eternal Rule, who won six of seven starts lifetime, three of them stakes.

“When I bought her she had a good page befitting a $43,000 Cal-bred yearling purchase” said Nothhaft. “Over the last 10 years it has become an exceptional page befitting that of a graded stakes broodmare producer”.

Nothhaft put Randie’s Legend in training, but she ultimately never made it to the races. “The purchase was mainly made to get a horse that could be competitive racing at Golden Gate Fields, which was my horizon at that time,” Nothhaft said. “She was extremely fast and often worked the bullet, but her running  style was hard on her knees. She had a series of minor physical issues that prevented her from making it to the races as a two through four-year-old. On the advice of a vet… I retired her unraced, uninjured and completely sound”.

Nothhaft owned a share in dual classic winner Smarty Jones, who stood in Pennsylvania and nicked well with Randie’s Legend. The resulting foal Smarty’s Legend, is a two­ time winner of $57,086. After the mare was barren in 2013, Nothhaft spent time delving deeper into her pedigree.

“From 2010-2012, Randie’s Legend’s pedigree improved by leaps and bounds under the first dam, Eternal Legend”. Frumious and Eternal Rule were showing their mettle on the track, but the second and third dams were producing as well. “The rest of the pedigree was extremely active as well with graded stakes performers like Volcat, This Ones for Phil, and Smokey Fire,” Nothhaft said. “Even more surprising, if not downright amazing, Exaggerator- winner of the Preakness Stakes in 2016- materialized under the third dam. ”  Nothhaft’s bloodstock agent Carl McEntee offered the advice of “upgrading the stature of her breeding mates.” In 2014, Randie’s Legend produced a Stormy Atlantic colt Nothhaft sold as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale for $115,000. Daddy Is a Legend, a daughter of Scat Daddy, came next.

Daddy is a Legend October Weanling

Cavalier Bloodstock purchased the Pennsylvania bred filly as a weanling at Keeneland for $140,000. She was resold 10 months later at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $160,000 to Jim and Susan Hill of Margaux Farm.

Daddy is a Legend heading to work out
Photo Amanda Motz

Daddy Is a Legend went into training with George Weaver and debuted Aug. 6 at Saratoga. Her eventful debut included striking the gate as she broke and a wide trip around the second turn. Daddy Is a Legend finished fifth, but showed encouraging promise.

In her second start, a 1-mile grass race at Belmont, Daddy Is a Legend faced the highly regarded Rushing Fall. The two kicked away from the field in the stretch, with Rushing Fall eventually prevailing on her way to an unbeaten season, capped by a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf-G1. “Most people don’t realize that she gave Breeders’ Cup winner Rushing Fall the biggest challenge in her unbeaten career,” said owner Jim Hill.

At Keeneland in October, Daddy Is a Legend went off favored in a 9-furlong contest for juvenile fillies. She won by 2¾ lengths under Joe Bravo, showing her talent on one of racing’s biggest stages. Nothhaft pointed out that the filly earned, “the coveted designation as a TDN Rising Star” with the victory.

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

As if backing up that honor, Daddy Is a Legend returned in the one-mile graded Jimmy Durante Stakes. With a $102,415 purse, over Del Mar’s turf Nov. 25. She was favored once again, broke 10th in a field of 12 , steadied twice around the turn, and still rallied to win by a length over Data Dependent.

Daddy Is a Legend is currently wintering at Margaux Farm in Kentucky, enjoying a break before tackling a spring campaign. “For our next start for Daddy Is a Legend, we are aiming to the [Grade 2] Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland in April,” Hill said. “We obviously have thoughts beyond that, but horseracing really is a one race at a time game. Arguably you could make a case for Daddy as the second best 3-year-old turf filly in North America.” In the Appalachian, Daddy Is a Legend may meet rival Rushing Fall once again. “It could be a very exciting race,” Hill said. “Not surprisingly, we are very excited with this horse.”

Randie’s Legend was bred to Violence but did not catch, then produced a Pennsylvania bred City Zip colt last February that has been named Belleau Wood. ” We made a decision to keep the City Zip colt to race before Daddy Is a Legend emerged,” Nothhaft said.

Randie’s Legend is due to produce a Tiznow foal this spring, and will be bred back to Candy Ride (Arg). With two winners, one a stakes winner, from two foals to race, Nothhaft is thrilled that his dedication to Randie’s Legend paid off.