12/23/2015 11:30AM

California owner-breeder Alexander has chance for personal-best year


The waning days of 2015 may produce a milestone for California owner and breeder Nick Alexander.

With four days of racing remaining at Santa Anita this year, Alexander’s stable is on the verge of reaching a personal best for single-season earnings. The stable’s record of $1,039,634 was set in 2013 and is in jeopardy of falling. Through Dec. 21, Alexander’s runners had earned $980,215.

“Depending on how the entry box treats us, we should have the ammunition,” Alexander said last weekend. “Our original goal was $1.2 million, but we fell on hard times in the middle of the year. We’re looking forward to the first week at Santa Anita.”

For a stable that focuses on California-breds, Alexander, 73, has several horses to follow in coming days, notably Sunday Rules, a candidate for the $75,000 Kalookan Queen Stakes on Dec. 30; and Tough It Out, who is scheduled to start in the $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes for 2-year-olds at a mile on turf Dec. 31.

Others such as Grazenette, who was third in the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar in 2014; Grazen Sky, a stakes winner this year; the 2-year-old maiden Pee Wee Reese; and Tough Sunday, an allowance-class runner, will race early in the Santa Anita meeting.

To get in this position, Alexander had an excellent start to the year. Last spring, Alexander won two stakes for California-breds – the $100,000 Silky Sullivan Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf with Grazen Sky at Golden Gate Fields, and the $150,250 Spring Fever Stakes for older female sprinters with Sunday Rules at Santa Anita.

Alexander has strived to win such races, having built a stable of California-breds in recent years.

“We’ve added broodmares in the last couple of years,” Alexander said. “Each year, we’ve tried to add a few good ones.”

Alexander has 27 broodmares on his farm in Santa Ynez, Calif., about two hours north of Los Angeles. In the last decade, he has gradually developed the 285-acre property by buying land and expanding his broodmare band. Last month, Alexander bought two mares in Kentucky – Malibu Holiday, by Harlan’s Holiday, for $65,000; and Shesabronxbomber, by Afleet Alex, for $45,000 – through bloodstock agent Kathy Berkey.

Malibu Holiday won 4 of 31 starts and earned $237,179 racing on the East Coast. Shesabronxbomber won 3 of 27 starts and earned $229,442, and placed in stakes at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Finger Lakes.

Alexander describes the purchase of Malibu Holiday “as kind of a gamble.” She’s in foal to the young stallion Violence.

“I like to buy horses that were hard-knockers as racehorses that had 20 or 30 starts,” he said. “It indicates that they have decent bone.”

Those mares will be bred to California-based stallions, possibly to the Alexander-owned Grazen, who stands at Tommy Town Thoroughbreds for $2,500. Grazen, a California-bred by Benchmark, won 4 of 7 starts and earned $245,400 in a career cut short by injury in 2009.

Alexander supports stallions such as Kafwain, Lucky Pulpit, and Ministers Wild Cat, among others. Under California breeding regulations, a mare from outside of California can be brought into the state and have the resulting foal registered as a statebred if the mare is bred to a California-based stallion in the same year. That will happen with Malibu Holiday and Shesabronxbomber.

Racing and breeding has been Alexander’s focus for much of the last decade. He is well known in Los Angeles as the owner of a successful car dealership now operated by his adult children.

“I’m trying to do it better every year,” he said of his racing and breeding holdings. “We try to keep improving our broodmares. We’ve got a great crew of guys. We break the horses right there on the ranch and get them ready to go to a track. You always try to improve.”

The racing stable has grown quickly in the last decade. The stable won 28 races in 2010 and 2013 and had 21 wins this year through Dec. 20. The interest began in the late 1970s when he held a share of a racehorse named Pashanat Reb, a son of Reb’s Policy.

“He was a horse that hooked me into the sport. He was a sprinter that you could nurse a mile out of,” Alexander said. “After the race, it was all he could do to get back to the barn. He ran his butt off. I had a partner at the time. We had six or seven wins with the horse. That got me started.”

These days, Alexander is as likely to be hands-on working around the farm as he is at the races, watching one of his runners with trainers Phil D’Amato and Steve Miyadi.

“I’ve got a lot of tractor time,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier.”