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.
Hank Nothhaft builds a top breeding program from scratch
BY LENNY SHULMAN
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HANK NOTHHAFT
ELEVEN YEARS AGO VENTURE· TECHNOLOGY COMPANY CEO
Hank Nothhaft looked at himself in the mirror and realized that, after three decades, he was losing his passion for his work. He needed a new challenge, one that satisfied his all-encompassing, adrenaline-driven, compulsive lifestyle.
Hello Thoroughbred breeding and racing.
A decade of immersion into every thing horses has yielded significant results for the 74-year-old Nothhaft, a native of Pennsylvania who has traveled the world in both his military and civilian lives. Under HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing (the “R” coming courtesy of wife Randie) Nothhaft has bred Breeders’ Cup Champion Finest City, multiple graded stakes winner Daddy ls a Legend , and multiple stakes-winning homebred Grand Prix. He has also campaigned multiple graded stakes winner Living The Life and multiple grade 2-placed stakes winner Kindle, and has specialized in purchasing modestly priced stock that has gone on to perform on the racetrack and in the breeding shed.
There were no horses or racing in Nothhaft’s youth in Sharon, Pa ., between Erie and Youngstown, although today that area is littered with race tracks that didn’t exist decades ago. Nothhaft graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served in Vietnam , achieving his MBA in information systems technology after he exited the military. He assumed ownership of a series of tech companies, which
took him from Washington D.C., to Dallas, and eventually to Silicon Valley in Northern California. There, the racing bug bit him on friends-and-family outings to Bay Meadows.” We loved that place, and I developed a positive view of horse racing,” noted Nothhaft. “I was going back and forth to England quite a bit , and read all the Dick Francis novels on those trips, and began going to race tracks like Lingfield, near London, and really enjoyed it. ”
Those good feelings persuaded Nothhaft to take up the challenge of trying to survive in the horse industry, initially as an owner .
“I analyzed a bunch of different industries, and I ended up with Thorough-hred racing,” he said. ” I do look back and chuckle at my naivete in thinking I could do what has subsequently occurred. I love the competition and the immediate feedback you get on your decisions .
“What I find appealing is you can immerse yourself in the data side of it. I always had a dashboard on any company I was running and loved to throw myself into the statistics and analyze the company in as many ways as possible. So when l started looking at pedigrees and bloodlines, I thought, ‘Wow, that amount of data is perfect for an insatiable appetite like mine.’ ”
Nothhaft did his homework. He attended seminars put on by the Thoroughbred Owners of California, watched BloodHorse videos on conformation, read books, and then went out and raced some cheap claimers in Northern California, seeking to have fun, enjoy the competition, and hopefully break even. ‘The plan didn’t work well, and Nothhaft used the economic meltdown of 2009 to liquidate his stock, learn from his early mistakes, and start over again.
With the benefit of advice from Gary Mandella and Mary Knight, he began buying better Cal-breds. Chalking it up to “dumb luck,” he bought Randie’s Legend at auction for $ 43,000 in 2008 .
She would go on to produce Daddy ls a Legend. But Nothhaft turned the corner when he decided that Pennsylvania offered more opportunity than did the situation in California. He enlisted Carl McEntee to help buy bloodstock and the operation clicked. Nothhaft grabbed Kindle for $50,000, Be Envied for $37,000, Living The Life for less than $50,000, and Halljoy, who would become group stakes -placed. for $150,000 . All became valued members of his broodmare band, with Be Envied producing Finest City and Grand Prix.
“Hank came to realize that buying more-commercial broodmares was the most productive place to be, and safest to work within,” McEntee noted. “We’ve had good success and have made smart decisions on our breeding selections, which we both spend a lot of time on. ‘There’s luck involved, because this is the ‘Thoroughbred industry, and there are no certainties. But the harder you work, the luckier you seem to get.”
‘Today, Nothhaft’s 10 broodmares produce Pennsylvania-breds after being bred to Kentucky stallions, and he himself is on the board of the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association.
“One of the side benefits of getting into horses is that I’ve reconnected with my home state,” he said. “I’ve traveled the world, lived for three decades in California (today he lives in Austin, Texas) , and came back to my roots; in Pennsylvania. I’ve won the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (G2) twice. Where other guys have Kentucky Derby fever, I want to get a PABRED to win the Masters,” which has never happened . It takes all kinds of people, right?”
Most of the mares Nothhaft owns today either raced for him or were bred by him, the notable exception being Sulis, whom he bought specifically to breed to Silver Train, a stallion Nothhaft bought and stood in Pennsylvania, hut who died after just two years. Having paid $105,000 for Sulis, a daughter of Maria ‘s Mon, Nothhaft proceeded to sell weanlings out of her for $250,000, $130,000, and $ 220,000 within four years.
As legendary Kentucky horseman Robert Courtney used to say, that’s how you make money in this business.
Because the Pennsylvania incentive program is going well, Nothhaft said he might increase his mare population to 15, but generally he is concentrating on improving the quality of the band rather than increasing its number.
“Carl and I made a decision not to take the risk of raising them to be yearlings .” Nothhaft said of his early preference for selling weanlings . “At least until now. The yearling market is crazy right now so I’m not unhappy to hold onto them another year because the financial advantage is shifting that way. That hasn’t always been true.” That updated strategy comes in part from the American Pharoah-Kindle weanling colt Nothhaft sold for S400,000 who was pin hooked by Peter O’Callaghan and sold for s2.2 million at last September’s Keeneland yearling auction.
Nothhaft supported McEntee during the latter’s time at Darby Dan Farm and has helped bankroll McEntee’s move to open Ballysax Bloodstock, which now consigns the Nothhaft-breds.
“Carl is all energy and is a hard worker,” said Nothhaft. “In his first year in 2018 he’s had good-quality consignments and gotten good results.
“Hank is an incredibly passionate man who has to have something to d rive him and I’m the same way,” noted McEntee.”He’ll call me at 4 or 5 a.m. his time to talk. He knows only one speed, and that’s 100 mph .”
Nothhaft’s single most notable day in the business came on Nov. 5, 2016. when the Breeders Cup Filly & M are Sprint (G 1) was run at Santa Anita Park. The Nothhaft-owned Living The Life, who had won the Presque lsle Downs Masters in 2014 and 2015 and the All American Stakes (G3) in 2016. was slated to compete against the Nothhaft-hred Finest City, whom the breeder had sold as a weanling in 2012 for $50,000. ‘·My wife and l and other family members were planning to go from our home in Saratoga. Calif. Nothhaft stated. “Then a week before the race, Living the Life came up lame and had to be retired. I was so bummed out I had a knee-jerk reaction to give my tickets away. So we watched from home. I bet heavy on Finest City and when she won. there was an eruption . My phone started going crazy, so there was a lot of recognition of our connection to the horse. But l felt silly watching Gary Mandella accept our trophy.”
In the past, Nothhaft annually compiled what he now calls a “fantasy list ” of stallions for his mares, where he and McEntee would generate a roster of studs that fit his mares although they knew they wouldn’t he able to get to those stallions. Today, it is a different story.
“Now that I have better mares. we know we’re able to get to all the stallions on our list this year.” said Nothhaft. “So we’re not playing fantasy football anymore.” Nothhaft bought back a Pioneer of the Nile-Kindle weanling colt in November 2018 on a final bid of $375,000. He .also kept an American Pharoah-Halljoy yearling filly who RNA’d for $335.000. Those babies are indicative of the quality of stallions to whom he now sends his mares.
“This is a very faddish industry in my opinion,” he stated. “So going to American Pharoah in his first year-if you pick the right first-year stallion it can be a bonanza when you’re selling the progeny. Certainly American Pharoah was a good pick. So we do use some select first-year or young stallions, we call ‘Living the Dream stallions.’ They don’t have anything running yet, or at least won t before (the progeny) sell.
“As far as more proven stallions, we’re not generally going to the heavy hitters such as Tapit, Candy Ride, Into Mischief, and so on. When I was starting out, I bred to Tizbud. a full brother to Tiznow. Now, I love Tiznow, who is one of the less expensive studs I go to today, so that highlights where I started and where I’m at. But I’m also smart enough to know the minute you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’re actually really stupid because the gods are about to come down and chop your knees off. So I keep my feet on the ground.”
Said McEntee, “Hank is unlike most business people who come into the horse industry, where they tend to lose all of their previous business acumen. Hank has maintained the smart decision-making that got him to where he is.”
Nothhaft has worked diligently to try and help ensure that the Pennsylvania incentive program remains on sound footing, although that has proven to be a tricky enterprise in the past. ”Pennsylvania has had a great program for years,” said Nothhaft, “except that the state (government) kept coming up short on funds and taking money away from the breeding program for the general fund. As a breeder, you never knew what was going to be there going forward. What we’ve done is put the program in a trust; while that can still be broken, there is a significant penalty for the state if it decides to take funds away, so we feel more comfortable going forward.
“The number of foals is increasing in the state. There are new sires and brood mares showing up, and the quality of the talent you need is increasing. We know New York-bred and Cal-bred races are tough, but Pennsylvania isn’t a lay-up, either. But it does run between 400 and
500 races a year for state-breds, and if you have a decent horse, you can find a level at which to race and have a good chance of earning some money which is attractive.” ‘ The man on the street- which I consider myself- who doesn’t have 200 horses can realistically breed Pennsylvania-breds and sell or race them with the anticipation of a reasonable financial outcome. That’s the world I thought I was getting into way back at the start.”
A dose of naivete represent standard equipment for those seeking entrance to the Thoroughbred industry as a business proposition . And the addition of successful business people such as Hank Nothhaft to its ranks swells the legitimacy as well as the feasibility of this world of horses. He has embraced a challenge far too puzzling for most; entered on the ground floor and built a sturdy operation upward despite knowing nothing about its workings when he started. That horses can rekindle this sort of passion in a person of substance such as Nothhaft is a huge positive.
“l have been retired from the tech world for three or four years now, and I thank God every morning that l got involved in the horse business because it so satisfying,” he said. “It is extremely difficult, so when things do go right, the satisfaction and the adrenaline and the good feeling you get is so significant that it’s worth all the effort. “For a small guy like me, you have to work really hard to have something good going on, and when it does, it keeps you in a good mood for a while and you really have to inhale the happy fumes and the success . You have to ride over what I call th e Valley of Despair to keep your self going and motivated if you’re passionate about it.”■
Originally published “PHBA September 2018 Newsletter
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
TERESA GAROFALO MEMORIAL S., $107,750, PRX, 9-2, (S),
3yo/up, f/m, 6f, 1:10.06, ft.
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.
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.
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:
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, who was bred by her owner, is now 4 for 13 with earnings of $207,750.”
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.
“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”
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.”