Lingfield Park (LP) , PaBRED, colt by Verrazano o/o Move by Silver Train broke his maiden in his 4th career start. Lingfield Park is named after Lingfield Park Racecourse , a horse racing course at Lingfield in Surrey, United Kingdom, to honor HnR’s MGSW mare Living the Life (IRE). Living the Life won the first All Weather filly/mare Sprint Championship held at Lingfield Park April 18, 2014.
Lingfield Park is the first foal out of HnR homebred mare Move by Silver Train o/o Be Envied, making Move a 1/2 sister to two accomplished HnR homebreds: Finest City Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion and Eclipse Award winner and Grand Prix a multiple stakes winner with a career record of 18 starts 4 wins 5 seconds and 4 thirds. Though over shadowed by her two 1/2 sisters, Move compiled a credible body of work, starting 20 times, compiling 2 wins 5 places and 4 thirds. Lingfield Park was foaled at Northview PA by Tim Fazio.
In conjunction with Carl McEntee, Verrazano was chosen for Move with the plan to produce a commercial PaBRED foal to be sold at auction. Verrazano looked like an exciting new stallion prospect off his race record, standing at Coolmore and phenomenal pedigree being 1/2 brother to Graded Stakes Winning, successful stallion El Padrino and the phenomenal Princess of Sylmar, a PaBred who won 4 Grade 1’s including the Kentucky Oaks with career earnings of $2M+. Princess of Sylmar was sold at auction for $3.1M to Shadai Farm in Japan. Verrazano started out 5th on the freshmen sire list producing graded stakes winners like Seek and Destroy, a MGSW on turf. Surprisingly, at least to us, Verrazano’s U.S. stallion career was cut short by his sale to a syndicate in Brazil in 2019. The sale undermined the commerciality of Verrazano offspring causing HnR decision to keep Move 19/aka Lingfield Park to race.
Once it was decided to keep Lingfield Park to race, he was sent to Delaware, and then Virginia, to become certified for their thoroughbred incentive programs. A large horse, it took a while for Lingfield Park to round into racing shape and overcome the usual bout of 2 year old ailments. LP did not make it to the races until March of his 3 year old year. After legging up at Eagle Point Farm with Karen Godsey in Virginia, LP was sent to Fair Hill Training Center in Eklton, MD to be trained by Phil Schoenthal.
Fair Hill is one of the best, if not the best locations, to stable and train thoroughbreds. Trainers have access to dirt, Tapeta, and turf trails for training. Think Newmarket UK with dirt facilities. LP has/had plenty of workmates during this process including our homebred 3 yo colt Nimitz. Nimitz has won 3 of 7 and produced performance numbers right on the edge of black type performance levels. LP worked well with Nimitz so we believed he would do well once he got some experience. We also believed that LP is a two turn horse, but ran him short first time out to get some experience and conditioning.
LP then went to two turns on dirt race 2 and 3, finishing 2nd in race 3. Besides distance and surface considerations, races that take advantage of LP’s PaBred status and VA and DE certifications take priority. In May, what looked to be LP’s perfect next race came up at Penn National, a PaBRED restricted race Maiden Special Weight race at a mile on the dirt. Unfortunately, LP came down with a viral infection and had to be scratched from this race.
Once past the virus, and back in training, and another month lost, LP was in need of his next/4th start. This is where breeding, state certification and luck came together for him. Given LP’s pedigree and training on the All-Weather Tapeta track at Fair Hill, Phil S believed LP would do well on dirt, AW and turf, a rare quality. Second, because LP is a PaBRED, LP can be entered in certain maiden claiming races without putting him in for a “tag”. So our entering LP in a $25K maiden claiming race did not represent any decline in our expectations for LP, rather represented the need for a race. Plus HnR as the breeder and owner of LP, is eligible for significant incentives when he wins or hits the board. As it worked out, this plan came to fruition. The winner’s purse was increased for PaBRED winning an open race, the breeder received a bonus, and LP earned the VA winner’s bonus. As a result, the incentives exceeded the winner’s purse for this particular race. LP should race again after a few weeks break. Given his ability to run on three surfaces, LP is a strong candidate to run at least once this summer at Colonial Downs in VA.
by Averie Levanti for Pennsylvania Horseracing Association
In a typical year, 1,600 Pennsylvania-breds compete on the racetrack for average earnings of $27,600. Of the 50,000+ who have raced across the globe since 1985, only an elite group of 31 horses have broken the seven-figure mark in earnings. Over the course of summer 2020, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association will be chronicling a ten-part series featuring the select group of Pennsylvania-breds who reached the unique and rare accomplishment of $1,000,000 in racetrack earnings. Join us to celebrate and remember some of the greatest racehorses the Keystone State has produced.
When Hank Nothhaft attended the 2011 Keeneland November Sale, he had a specific goal in mind: purchase a handful of broodmares to support his newest stallion acquisition, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winning Silver Train, who Nothhaft had purchased a couple of months prior and moved to the Pennsylvania branch of Northview Stallion Station.
Alongside his bloodstock agent Carl McEntee, Nothhaft ended up taking home three new broodmares. One was Be Envied, a stakes placed daughter of Lemon Drop Kid who was in foal to the up and coming stallion City Zip. Sent to Northview PA, Be Envied foaled out her chestnut filly on March 28th, 2012. Nothhaft named his newest filly City Envy, and she quickly began to bring raving reviews. McEntee advised Nothhaft that the filly would be a great weanling sale prospect, and the decision was made to prepare for the 2012 Keeneland November Sale after she x-rayed clean. Her high expectations led Nothhaft to set her reserve at $50,000, but they expected her to bring as high as $150,000 with all of the buzz surrounding her.
To the surprise of Hank Nothhaft and everyone else involved with City Envy, she hammered right on reserve at $50,000 for Cobra Farm. What had happened? How could they have been so wrong? Soon after, it was discovered that City Envy was not vetting cleanly and happened to have a cyst on a stifle, a problem that was not detected on her initial x-rays. Nothhaft dealt with mixed emotions following the sale knowing he would not have sold his filly if he had known she had had an issue.
City Envy was sent to new owners Cobra Farm and prepared as a pinhook for the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. She brought $85,000 as a yearling and was purchased on behalf of the San Diego-based stable Seltzer Thoroughbreds. Seltzer ended up renaming City Envy to Finest City as an ode to their hometown. Once settled into California, the newly- named Finest City was turned over to a third generation horseman, albeit a brand new trainer, in 28-year-old Ian Kruljac.
Finest City developed a reputation as a quirky horse, and she dealt with a handful of minor physical maladies. Kruljac was patient with his filly, and his small stable allowed him to give her the attention she needed. His careful and patient handling ensured that Finest City did eventually make it to the races, and she debuted at Del Mar in July of her three-year-old season, finishing a close second at odds of 33-1. Finest City made her next start on August 23, 2015, romping to an 8 ½ length maiden victory at Del Mar. Her impressive score earned her a try in stakes company next out, and she finished a respectable fourth in the Unzip Me Stakes in her turf debut. Returning to the main track, Finest City rolled to another easy victory at Del Mar, this time taking an allowance event by 3 ¼ lengths. Her short first year ended with another second place effort in allowance company before a dull effort in the G1 La Brea on a quick turnaround. It was the last time she finished outside of the superfecta for a long time.
Starting her four-year-old campaign in the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita, Finest City suffered a heartbreaking loss after dueling with 64-1 longshot Lost Bus for the duration of the race before falling a head short at the wire. She proceeded to finish third in allowance company and fourth in the G3 Las Flores Stakes before stepping back up into Grade 2 company in the Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos
Sent off at 8-1 in the field of seven, Finest City settled towards the back of the pack before making a four-wide bid around the turn to put her within contention. In a perfectly timed ride, the filly ran down the leading pair of Las Flores winner Fantastic Style and Santa Monica winner Lost Bus to enact her revenge by 1 ¼ lengths.
Fresh off her first graded stakes triumph, Finest City tried Grade 1 company in the Vanity Mile, where she faced a dynamic duo of champions in Beholder and Stellar Wind. In an incredibly respectable effort, she finished third while beaten only 2 ¼ lengths by Beholder, who would go on to win her second consecutive Champion Older Mare title by year’s end.
Having shown her versatility with an ability to handle turf in the past, Finest City returned to the turf for her next two races. After finishing a close fourth in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap, the filly stretched out to the furthest distance of her career in the 11/8 mile Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes. Finest City put up a gutsy effort at a distance that was probably past her prime, closing a 2 length advantage on Avenge in the final furlong to lose by a diminishing head.
With the Breeders’ Cup looming two months out, Finest City trained up to the world championship event with her sights set on a return to the dirt in the Fill-y & Mare Sprint division. Everything was coming together perfectly for Hank Nothhaft, who also planned to run his filly Living The Life in the same race. Living The Life was entering the Breeders’ Cup off a close second in the G2 Presque Isle Masters in her bid to win the race for a third consecutive year.
Nothhaft had his tickets and travel plans in order to cheer home both a filly he owned and a filly he had bred when disaster struck. Living The Life turned up lame after her final workout for the Breeders’ Cup. In the immediate air of disappointment, Nothhaft cancelled his travel plans and gave away his Breeders’ Cup tickets. It was a decision he would end up regretting. tickets. It was a decision he would end up regretting.
Finest City drew post twelve in the field of thirteen. Despite having not won since April, she was sent off as the fifth betting choice at 8-1 for her consistent, well-placed efforts. When the gates sprung, Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith hustled Finest Cit-y towards the front, locking into a three-wa-y speed duel with Gloryzapper and Paulassilverlining. The trio set down blistering fractions of 21.98 for the opening quarter and 44.82 for the opening half.
With Gloryzapper falling away as the field rounded the turn, Finest City and Paulassilverlining turned into the stretch as one. Defending champion Wavell Avenue was catapulting from the back of the pack to range up alongside the dueling pair. Finest City finally gained an advantage over Paulassilverlining before being confronted with a new challenge from Wavell Avenue. Regardless, Finest City found it within herself to hold off her rival for the final half furlong, and she soared under the wire ¾ length in front.
Finest City’s score in the Filly & Mare Sprint was the fourth victory at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a Pennsylvania-bred and the first in twenty-four years. It was a first for many involved: the first Grade 1 victory for the fill-y herself, the first for Seltzer Thoroughbreds and young trainer Ian Kruljac, and the first for Hank Nothhaft as a breeder. At year’s end Finest City was named Pennsylvania-bred Horse of the Year and won the Eclipse Award for Champion Female Sprinter.
A few hours before she was officially christened a champion, Finest City made her five-year-old debut in the G2 Santa Monica. She went one better than the year before, cruising to an easy 3 ¾ length victory in wire to wire fashion. The Santa Monica would ultimately end up being the final win for Finest City’s career, but she remained consistent through year’s end with second place efforts in the G1 Santa Margarita and the G1 Humana Distaff and thirds in the G1 Beholder Mile and G2 Great Lady M.
Finest City still intended to defend her title in the Breeders’ Cup, and Hank Nothhaft made sure not to miss out the second time. On November 4, 2017, the consistent, hard-trying mare made the final start of her career at the world championships, but a repeat was not meant to be. Finest City turned in the poorest effort of her career when eighth in the field of fourteen.
Despite the disappointing end to her racing career, there was no time to ruminate. Finest City was due to sell at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale two days after the Breeders’ Cup, and she shipped to Kentucky the following morning. Hank Nothhaft followed his filly and watched her step into the sales ring on Monday evening. The bidding jumped up past seven figures before finally hammering at $1,500,000 for legendary Japanese horseman Katsumi Yoshida, owner of Japan’s breeding powerhouse Northern Farm.
From Finest City’s three seasons on the racetrack, she faced the starting gate twenty times with five wins, six seconds, and four thirds for earnings of $1,266,394. She only finished worse than fourth twice throughout her entire career. She took home three graded stakes triumphs and placed in seven others, with her finest hour coming with a Breeders’ Cup victor-y and subsequent Eclipse Award.
Despite offering Finest City as a weanling at Keeneland, Hank Nothhaft maintains that he has no regrets when it comes to selling her that day. He reflects on how the circumstances, timing, and luck culminated with her ending up with the right trainer at the right time to maximize her talent. Nothhaft believes that ending up in a small barn like Ian Kruljac’s was crucial to Finest City’s success because she received the individual attention that was required to work out her kinks and minor problems.
Before being sent to her new home in Japan, Finest City made a stop in England for a date with world-renowned sire Frankel. The resulting colt sold at auction for 108,000,000 -yen (around $1,000,000 USD) as a foal. She continues to reside at Northern Farm, where she delivered a colt by Lord Kanaloa in 2020.
“Daddy is a Legend (Scat Daddy) became the latest TDN Rising Star with a decisive victory going nine furlongs over the Keeneland lawn Friday afternoon. Fifth on debut at Saratoga Aug. 6 behind Chelsey Flower S. contender Golden Orb (Orb), the $160,000 KEESEP yearling checked in second next out
Sept. 16 at Belmont behind a TDN Rising Star performance from Rushing Fall (More Than Ready), who captured Keeneland’s GIII Jessamine S. next out and is one of the likely favorites for next Friday’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar.
Running second last through a first half-mile in :49.73, the 3-5 chalk steadily advanced down the center of the course and ranged up outside the top three as they registered three- quarters in 1:16.19. The dark bay stuck her head in front rounding the far turn and the race was over from there as she cruised clear to win as she pleased. Gentle Ruler (Colonel John) ran on late, closing the gap to 2 3/4 lengths at the line.
Daddy is a Legend is out of the unraced mare Randie’s Legend (Benchmark), a half-sister to MSW Eternal Rule (Tribal Rule) and GSW Frumious (Grindstone). The 10-year-old mare did not produce a foal in 2016, but foaled a City Zip colt named Belleau Wood this term and was bred back to Tiznow.
DADDY IS A LEGEND (f, 2, Scat Daddy–Randie’s Legend, by Benchmark) Lifetime Record: 3-1-1-0, $47,910. O-Hill, Jim and Susan; B-HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing LLC (PA); T-George Weaver.
*$140,000 Wlg ’15 KEENOV.”
Daddy is a Legend is a PABRED bred by HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing LLC. She is by Scat Daddy o/o HnR mare Randie’s Legend purchased in 2008 as a yearling. An extremely quick filly, Randie’s Legend was unraced to avoid a potential injury to her knee. Two half brothers Eternal Rule, MSW, and Frumious, GSW, became stakes winners after her purchase. Also her Mare Eternal Legend died in a freak farm accident leaving us with only these three foals. As both her brothers are gelding, it is left to Randie’s Legend to carry forward the bloodlines of 2nd dam Eternal Search, a three time Canadian Champion.
She is currently domiciled @Northview PA in foal to Tiznow. Her first foal Smarty’s Legend by Smarty Jones was HnR’s 2nd PABRED foal. She has a three year old unraced colt Lincolnator by Stormy Atlantic purchased by Zayat stables and a weanling colt by City Zip named Belleau Wood (PA) and owned by HnR.
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.
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.
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.
City Envy (AKA Finest City) and Hank Nothhaft Keeneland November 2012
By Nikki Sherman
Originally published in PHBA February, 2017 Newsletter published in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Magazine
Photos HnR Nothhaft Media Library
Other than the Kentucky Derby, winning a Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championship race is the dream of every breeder in the United States. It often takes decades-if it happens at all-to reach that pinnacle, but for Henry “Hank” Nothhaft, it took just a few years.
“I have not been involved in horse racing very long, “ Nothhaft admits. “I became directly involved in a very limited way around 2008, with the idea to create a business I could run and enjoy while I was moving into retirement from my business career in the technology world.”
Nothhaft, who breeds and races under the name HnR Nothhaft Horseracing LLC, wanted to go through a hands-on learning experience in the Thoroughbred industry and was able to purchase the promising young stallion, Silver Train, in 2011. That November, he and agent Carl McEntee attended the Keeneland November mixed sale to look for mares that would cross well with the son of Old Trieste. There, they found a Lemon Drop Kid mare named Be Envied, who was in foal to the popular sprint stallion City Zip. Nothhaft purchased Be Envied for $37,000 and shipped her to Northview PA in Peach Bottom to foal. That foal was a lovely chestnut filly he decided to name City Envy.
The filly was entered in the 2012 Keeneland November sale as a weanling after colleagues convinced him that she should easily bring $150,000. However, early interest in City Envy, who Nothhaft had named before his decision to sell came about, fizzled out when on-site veterinary inspections discovered an existing OCD on X-rays. She just barely met her reserve of $50,000, selling for that price to Cobra Farm, who in turn pinhooked her at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2013. Seltzer Thoroughbreds purchased the filly for $85,000 and the father-son team of Wayne and Tyler Seltzer decided to rename her Finest City after their hometown of San Diego.
“She was a knockout from day one” remembers Nothhaft. “Unfortunately, that’s one of the reasons I decided to sell her, as I thought we were going to be able get six figures for her and I was focused on building a broodmare band for Silver Train to race in Pennsylvania. She was one of the first two or three PA-BRED horses I bred and was the first horse I bred who sold commercially at auction.”
The Seltzers’ trainer Ian Kruljac clearly had great hopes for their new filly from the beginning, as Finest City made her career debut at the prestigious Del Mar summer meet in July of 2015. The filly finished a solid second behind eventual graded stakes winner Gloryzapper. Her next start would be a different story-Finest City ran off to an impressive 8 ½ length score in a $70,000 maiden special weight at Del Mar. After an unsuccessful stakes debut over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course in her next start, Finest City returned to the winner’s circle with an easy 3 ¼ length score in a $53,000 allowance at Del Mar.
Finest City competed against some of the top female sprinters on the West Coast throughout the winter of 2015-16, and by April she finally broke through becoming a stakes winner when she captured the $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes-G2 at Los Alamitos. That race earned Finest City a chance to compete in the Breeders’ Cup, where she nearly faced off against Nothhaft’s own multiple graded stakes winner, millionaire Living the Life (IRE).
Living the Life (IRE) Flavian Prat up
“We originally had fairly elaborate plans to attend the Breeders’ Cup, but when Living the Life came up lame before the race, I canceled our reservations. I came to regret this decision,” Nothhaft admits. “So, my wife and I were glued to our TV watching the race. I must be honest, I thought Finest City could win, but was really more confident in a top-three finish. When she did win, we were cheering and literally jumping for joy. Within seconds, my cell phone exploded with texts and calls beyond anything we had ever experienced.”
On the first Saturday of November 2016, Finest City joined an elite group of just three other PA-Breds who have captured a Breeders’ Cup Race when she crossed the wire first in the $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint G1, holding off defending champion Wavell Avenue by three-quarters of a length under heavy urging from Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith.
Those other Breeders’ Cup-winning PA-Breds are some of the most talented athletes to grace the Breeders’ Cup. Alphabet Soup won the 1996 Classic in a thrilling stretch battle with Louis Quatorze and Cigar. Go For Wand captured the 1989 Juvenile Fillies as part of a campaign that culminated in her being crowned that year’s Eclipse Award champion 2 year-old filly, and Tikkanen, wh set a couse record at Churchill Downs in the 1994 Breeders’ Cup turf.
Finest City enjoyed a short break following the biggest race of her life, but has since returned to Kruljac’s Santa Anita Barn. She is steadily working towards a 2017 campaign that would ideally give her the opportunity to defend her Breeders’ Cup title, this time in her owners’ hometown of San Diego at her favorite track, Del Mar.
Finest City making her winning Breeders’ Cup move with Mike Smith up
She was also named a finalist for the 2016 Champion Female Sprinter, along with Haveyougoneaway and Paulasilverlining-both whom finished behind Finest City in the Breeders’ Cup.
Win or lose, nothing will compare to the thrill of winning a Breeders’ Cup race. Tyler Seltzer said it best when the NBC Sports camera crew caught up with him immediately following the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The excitement was overwhelming, and all he could think to say was an emphatic, “She’s pretty great.”
Kindle a MSW/MGSP mare by Indian Charlie o/o Carson’s Vanity by Carson City had her first foal on January 26, 2016 @Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, KY. Kindle is short in stature, very muscular and always gave 100% during her racing career for HnR Nothhaft Horseracing. She ran a career best Beyer Number of 100 winning the Cool Air Stakes. Our high level goal in breeding to Tiznow was to get a horse with a combination of Tiznow size, durability and stamina with Kindle speed and muscularity. Ideally this foal would grow into a miler plus with exceptional tactical speed. We are a long ways off from knowing whether our objectives will be achieved, but so far we like what we see.
Made in America (KY) by Tiznow o/o Kindle @Darby Dan Farm
We have decided to keep Kindle 16 to race. As a result, we have named him Made in America (KY). As a January yearling, he stands nearly 15 hands which makes him almost as tall as Kindle. He weighs around 980 pounds which makes him large for his age. His conformation is excellent and he is well balanced and a nice frame to grow into. We are counting the days until we can move to the next step and start Made in America’s initial training.
The other days we are counting are the days until Kindle has her second foal. She is in foal to American Pharoah with a colt expected in the next two weeks or so. We are hoping this foal will have the same excellent confirmation that Made in America enjoys. If he does, we will likely put this colt up for sale in one of the weanling auctions at the end of the year.
Finally, to give Kindle every chance to succeed as a broodmare, we are breeding her to Pioneer of the Nile at Winstar for the 2018 foal. Time will tell how this story will evolve, but we are excited to be part of the journey. We are hoping he could be Tiznow’s next Big Horse.
Bred by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing LLC, Finest City, a PA_BRED, not only proved the best distaff sprinter of 2016, but acquitted herself around two turns on dirt and turf as well.
It illustrated the mare’s versatility, though in the end, she demonstrated her keen sprinting ability by beating the best in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) to clinch the Eclipse Award as top female sprinter. Graphics courtesy of Keeneland and the PHBA.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.”
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 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 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.
Finest City day old foal @Northview Stallion Station PA
HnR Nothaft Horseracing’s Mutliple Stakes Winning and Multiple Graded Stakes placed Mare Kindle produced a colt on January 26th by Tiznow, two time Horse of the Year, known as the Big Horse Sire. Kindle by Indian Charlie out of a Carson City Mare, Carson’s Vanity won two listed stakes and placed five times in graded stakes in a 11 race career that produced 4 wins, 4 places and 1 show. Her best statistical performance produced a triple digit Beyer Number (100) in winning the Cool Air Stakes and probably her most exciting race was getting edged at the wire by two times Breeders’ Cup Champion Mizdirection in the Monrovia Stakes. A versatile sprinter, Kindle won on dirt, synthetic and turf surfaces.
The new colt is healthy, well formed and has great substance. We can’t wait to see him mature as we matched the brilliant speed of Kindle with the world class two turn capability of Tiznow. Kindle is a very muscular mare who fits well with taller, longer Tiznow. Besides the physical compatibility, the pedigree nicks are strong as well. This mating is rated an A by Truenicks, and A++ by Werk’s enicks and a 20/20 match by G1 Goldmine.