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.
“Sometimes it’s the breaks you don’t get that turn out to matter most.
Take the case of Grand Prix. Her breeder, Hank Nothhaft, took her to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015, expecting to leave with more money but one less horse than he brought.
He set her reserve at $150,000. Bidding topped out at $145,000. No sale.
The sophomore is slated to make her next start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Charles Town Oaks September 23. The seven-furlong fixture tops the track’s “Race for the Ribbon” card.
“If you get into racing and you have a little moxie and a little luck, these horses can take you anywhere,” Nothhaft said. “It’s amazing.”
Grand Prix began her career in the California-based barn of Gary Mandella. It took her four tries to break her maiden, finally scoring on the synthetic at Golden Gate. She followed that up with a game second – beaten just a nose – in the $50,000 Golden Gate Debutante Stakes.
But for the most part, her West Coast exertions didn’t yield much benefit – just the single win in her first nine starts.
Though Nothhaft, a retired tech entrepreneur, lives in Northern California, he’s a Pennsylvania-bred, as is Grand Prix. So he decided to send the filly back East; though Mandella remains the trainer of record, Grand Prix now operates out of Keith Nations’ Parx Racing barn.
“To be a breeder and an owner to run in Pennsylvania, it’s so much better than the negligible program we have in California,” Nothhaft said.
And Grand Prix has taken advantage of that rich program. She won the state-restricted New Start Stakes at Penn National on the Penn Mile undercard, followed up with a win and a second in allowance company, and last out scored by a length-and-a-half in the $100,000 Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes at Parx Racing, also a state-restricted event.
She has three wins and a second from four starts since coming east.
“All in all, she’s very consistent, fires each time, and seems to be improving,” her owner and breeder said.
In the Garofalo, Grand Prix took on older rivals, besting a field that included salty runners like the multiple stakes winners Power of Snunner and Discreet Senorita.
Still, Nothhaft acknowledges that the water figures to be deeper in the Oaks. The race has drawn 52 nominations. Among the expected runners is Shimmering Aspen, the Rodney Jenkins-trained filly who has dominated at sprint distances at Laurel Park this season.
“I think there’ll be some really nice fillies there,” Nothhaft admitted. “I think it’ll end up being a very interesting race. We would be very happy if she finished in the top three.”
To that end, Nothhaft and his trainers have developed what he called “a detailed plan” to help her acclimate to the surroundings at Charles Town, a place neither she nor Nothhaft has ever raced. She’ll ship in a few days ahead of the race and get a chance to gallop over the track a time or two prior to race day.
“If you’re going to go through all of the trouble of going, you want to make sure you do everything you can to give her a chance,” Nothhaft explained.
Nothhaft also intends to stick with jockey Jose Ferrer, who rode Grand Prix to victory in the Garofalo Memorial.
“First, he gave her a great ride that day,” Nothhaft said by way of explanation. “Second, he’s won (almost 4,200) races.”
For the longer term, Nothhaft hopes to race her through her five-year-old season. After that he intends to breed her. He has, he said, “no intention” of selling her despite her rising value.
Nothhaft has been involved in racing since 2008. He’s bred some good horses. He’s owned some good horses. He’s also slogged through all the ways that the sport can fool or foil you. He knows what sort of opportunity is there for Grand Prix.
“You really need these successes to get you over those valleys of despair,” he said. “For Grand Prix, this is our Breeders’ Cup.” ”
In his fourth start of 2017, Mister Nofty, a PA_BRED, returned to his 2016 form, winning an open 1 mile 70 yard Allowance Race at Penn National going wire to wire unchallenged. Given a field of seven that included no other early speed, Mister Nofty ran free to the lead under the guidance of his regular rider Brian Pedroza and maintained it during the duration of the race.
Trainer Keith Nation, looking for a turf race for Mister Nofty, entered this race with not turf options in sight. Mister Nofty continued his front running style and was able to overcome a reasonably talented field in this open allowance non winners other than 2. This is Mister Nofty’s first strong outing since sustaining minor leg and hoof injuries during the Presque Isle Mile last September.
Mister Nofty came out of this race 100% and will be looking to build on this race. HnR is looking at all options, dirt or turf.
Mister Nofty is an HnR homebred colt, foaled at Northview Stallions, by Scat Daddy out of Walking Path by Bernardini. Hank Nothhaft worked with bloodstock agent Carl McEntee of Darby Dan Farm, to develop the breeding plan that produced Mister Nofty. He trained at Webb Carroll before starting his racing career.
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
Hank Nothhaft’s HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing’s Mister Nofty notched his first career stake victory in upset fashion in the $50,000 Grover “Buddy” Delp Memorial at Delaware Park Wednesday.
With Brian Pedroza aboard, the 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy won by a neck and returned $34.40. The even-money favorite in the field of nine, Doctor Mounty with Edgar Prado, finished second. It was another 1 1/2-lengths further back to Pizmo Time, with Trevor McCaarthy, in third.
Mister Nofty cut early fractions of :47.34 for the mile and 1:10.93 for the three-quarters mile before completing the mile and a sixteenth in 1:43.02 over a fast main track.
The Pennsylvania-bred trained by Keith Nations raised his career record to four wins from eight starts with earnings of $119,870. In his previous outing, he won a mile and seventy yard Pennsylvania-bred restricted allowance on the grass at Parx on August 9th.
“I am a little overwhelmed,” said winning trainer Keith Nations. “I thought he would run a good race. He really has gotten better. But it is a great honor to win a race like this named after a Delaware Park legend. This race came up pretty tough for a $50,000 stake. When we entered, I thought we would be one of the favorites and we ended up around 16-to-1. We are not sure where we will go next with him. We just want to enjoy this one for a few days and see how he comes out of the race.”