11/20/2015 12:50PM

Darby Dan dusts off its silks for son of Soaring Softly


The fawn silks with brown sleeves of Darby Dan Farm have been worn by Kentucky Derby winners Proud Clarion (1967) and Chateaugay (1963). Jorge Velasquez was sporting a set when he won the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Classic on Proud Truth. But John Phillips, the head of Darby Dan, estimates they have not made an appearance in about 15 years.

That will change in the sixth race at Aqueduct on Sunday when Manitoulin makes his career debut for Darby Dan Farm LLC and trainer Jimmy Toner.

Darby Dan was founded by John Galbreath in 1949. When he died in 1988, his son Daniel took over the 618-acre farm. When Daniel Galbreath died at age 67 in 1995, Phillips, the son of Daniel Galbreath’s sister, Joan Phillips, continued the family legacy.

“The silks descend through the male line of the family, so when Daniel died, they went to his son, Squire Galbreath,” John Phillips said.

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Squire raced a few horses after his father died, but according to Phillips, “he is not into farms, horses, or animals,” and the silks have lay dormant. Meanwhile, the farm’s horses have run in the white and green colors of Phillips Racing.

“A number of friends who have attended the races with us have said if there is ever a way we could own a horse with you without making a big investment, we’d like to do it,” Phillips said. “So, we formed Darby Dan Farm LLC. I sent a letter to 16 friends, many of whom threw in a little money. We’re doing this for fun, not as a business. It’s a friends kind of thing.”

Phillips’s sister Debbie Richards manages the partnership, and Squire Galbreath has “relinquished the silks and assigned them to Darby Dan Farm LLC,” Phillips said.

Toner has trained for Darby Dan since 1993 and has sent out a number of outstanding runners, including Winter Memories, Soaring Softly, Memories of Silver, and Wonder Again.

“It’s pretty exciting to have a Darby Dan horse again,” Toner said. “It’s the beginning of another generation.”

Manitoulin is by Awesome Again and out of Soaring Softly, the 1999 Eclipse Award-winning turf female who died this year. Manitoulin was delivered by cesarean section and from the start “has been a pistol,” according to Phillips.

“We wanted to do this with a special colt, and he means a lot to us,” Phillips said.

Toner said Manitoulin reminds him of Soaring Softly in some ways.

“He’s like his mother in that she was big and tough, and so is he,” Toner said. “He’s quite the handful. He does colt stuff – stupid stuff, not mean stuff.”

Toner is pleased with the way Manitoulin is training.

“He’s coming along nicely, and he’s done everything I’ve asked him to,” he said. “It’s too early to think about turf. I’ve been trying to develop him.”

Phillips said that although he won’t be able to attend Sunday’s races at Aqueduct, a number of Darby Dan Farm LLC partners and their families will be on hand for the race.