04/26/2007 11:00PM

Breeder thrilled by March to Victory


Bill Graham has more than 35 years in the racing and breeding business in Canada and he knows that a good horse does not come around often.

That is why Graham still gets a kick out of watching his own horses compete and buying and selling mares and foals no matter what the level.

"It's a passion," Graham said. "You're always trying to beat the system. And I think people get a good horse when they buy from us."

Graham's Windhaven, whose fuchsia and blue diamond silks are among the most popular in the annals of Canadian racing, has raced such champions as Blondeinamotel, Wavering Girl, Cotton Carnival, and Fantasy Lake, all fillies.

Indeed, the farm seems to have a way with the females, but it's a 3-year-old colt who may be the biggest news for Graham in 2007.

March to Victory, owned by Susan Karches and trained by Christophe Clement, was sold by Graham for $300,000 as a yearling two years ago at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

A son of Dixieland Band-Frayne (by Red Ransom), March to Victory is considered a longshot with a chance for the June 24 Queen's Plate.

A winner of 1 of 3 starts last year as a juvenile, all on grass, March to Victory ended his season with a fourth-place finish in the Kris S. Stakes at Calder.

He was expected to make his 3-year-old debut on Friday in a turf allowance race at Keeneland.

Graham, a former Canadian Football League player and founder of Graham Bros. Construction Ltd., is on the board of directors for Woodbine Entertainment Group and owns a 150-acre farm in Caledon, Ontario - where he also stables horses for numerous clients - and a 150-acre farm in Lexington, Ky.

"We foal all of our horses in Canada but they go to Kentucky as soon as they are weaned until they are sold."

Graham has about 18 mares each year, and he does a lot of buying and selling to keep his horse numbers consistent and the bottom line as high as he can.

Last fall, he sold his homebred stakes-winning filly South Bay Cove (by Fusaichi Pegasus) in foal to Vindication for $500,000 at Keeneland, and two years ago sold South Bay Cove's dam, Fantasy Lake, for $950,000 at the same auction.

Graham also sold March to Victory's dam, Frayne, in 2004, for $140,000 in foal to Gulch.

"She was quite a success story for me," said Graham. "I bought her for $190,000, sold March to Victory for that good sum and then re-sold her in foal."

Graham sits down with farm managers Beth Hancock and Tim Beeson to plan out matings for the mares each spring, and he will keep the homebreds that do not meet the value placed of them by the team.

He has 12 horses in training for this year but is interested in the career of March to Victory just as much.

"I am pretty proud when I breed winners or stakes winners, and the breeders' awards are good," said Graham. "I heard they are planning to send March to Victory to Woodbine for the Plate. I would look forward to that."

In his own stable, Graham has high hopes for Woods Bay, a 3-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley-Fantasy Lake, and Bonne Bay, a Cape Town filly out of Blondeinthemeadow.

His horses are trained by Roger Attfield and Mike Doyle.

"When you get a good one, whether you own it or bred it, you have to enjoy it," Graham said. "They just don't come around very much."