10/15/2014 10:51AM

Angela Renee proving credit to farm, family, and namesake

Benoit & Associates
Angela Renee wins the Chandelier on the same track and at the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Expectations were understandably high when the decision was made at Siena Farm to send the mare Pilfer to Bernardini for the 2011 breeding season.

The preceding fall, To Honor and Serve had stamped himself as the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby by winning a maiden race, the Grade 2 Nashua, and the Grade 2 Remsen in succession by daylight margins. Although Siena Farm didn’t have an interest in him, it owned the next-best thing – his dam.

To Honor and Serve was the second foal out of Pilfer, a stakes-winning daughter of Deputy Minister. He was sired by Bernardini, the champion 3-year-old male of 2006.

“It was one of the easiest matings we have ever planned,” said David T. Pope, president of Siena Farm.

The resulting foal, a filly, ultimately would be named Angela Renee. She is the first Grade 1 winner bred and raced by Siena Farm. She is the early favorite for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. And on a more personal level for everyone at the farm, she has done a marvelous job of honoring the memory of the person for whom she is named.

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Located in Paris, Ky., Siena Farm was founded in 2008 by Anthony Manganaro, its chairman; Pope; and general manager Nacho Patino, who all hold ownership interests. The 220-acre farm is not a large operation by Kentucky standards and since its inception has produced between 11 and 22 horses per year, according to Pope.

Remarkably, Siena will have a second homebred in this year’s Breeders’ Cup, as Isabella Sings is being readied for the $1 million BC Juvenile Fillies Turf on Oct. 31.

Among Siena’s first purchases in 2008 was the 7-year-old Pilfer, who earlier that year had foaled To Honor and Serve. Siena paid $650,000 for her at the Keeneland November sale.

As To Honor and Serve racked up stakes wins at 3 and 4 – including the Cigar Mile, Woodward, and Pennsylvania Derby – Pilfer’s value continued to grow.

“Pilfer was part of our first batch of horses,” Pope said, “but she had become maybe a little too valuable to keep.”

The young farm hit a home run by selling her, in foal to Bernardini yet again, at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November sale for $1.95 million.

At the time, Angela Renee was a weanling.

“Because of everything To Honor and Serve accomplished, she was the most anticipated foal we’d ever had,” Pope said. “And then she was foaled, and she was beautiful. From Day 1, she had a lot of class.”

But business is business, and Angela Renee, still unnamed at the time, was entered in the 2013 Keeneland September sale.

“We had been going back and forth about whether to keep her or sell her,” Pope said. “We shipped her to Keeneland but had second thoughts almost immediately after the van left, and before the driver left the sales grounds, we called him and told him to bring her back. We liked her a lot and knew if we sold her, we would be losing our presence in the family.”

Because of Angela Renee’s name, the family connection between her and the people at Siena cuts deep. When the farm was starting out, Angela Renee Roe was hired to clean the farm’s office and house. It was soon learned that she had cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

“Angie was a very brave woman,” Pope said. “Even when she was sick, she was always looking for extra jobs to do. She fought the disease as hard as she could and continued to live her life the best she could. She eventually lost her battle, and it affected all of us. She was more than someone who worked here, she was part of our family.”

Manganaro, Patino, and Pope wanted to honor Roe’s memory by naming a horse after her. A lot of pressure comes with that, as so many horses either don’t pan out or have short, nondescript careers. The Siena Farm team chose well.

Angela Renee has started four times, all for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also trains Isabella Sings. She won her maiden, was second in the Adirondack, third in the Spinaway, and on Sept. 27 had a breakout race, winning the Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita. The BC Juvenile Fillies will be run over the same track and 1 1/16-mile distance.

In 2013, just before the Siena yearlings were to be sent to Florida, the Roe family was invited to the farm to see Angela Renee. The family was presented with a copy of her pedigree as a gift. After the get-together broke up, Pope received a phone call from Roe’s family.

“They asked what the date March 14, 2012, on the pedigree meant,” he said. “I explained it was the date when she was foaled, and they asked me if I knew that was Angie’s birthday. I had no clue. It was very emotional.”

Call it a coincidence, or call it karma. One thing for sure is the folks at Siena have a lot of reasons to cheer hard for Angela Renee.