11/20/2013 4:09PM

Delta Downs: Partners Sanders and Hirsch eye two Jackpot Day stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Owned by Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, Bahnah will be one of the favorites in the $500,000 Delta Downs Princess on Saturday.

Wayne Sanders jokes that he tried to discourage Larry Hirsch from getting into the roller-coaster ride that can be racehorse ownership. But Hirsch decided to invest anyway, and over the past 14 years the men have formed one of the most successful ownership partnerships based in the Southwest.

Bahnah, their dead-heat winner of the Grade 3 Schuylerville this past summer at Saratoga, and Donoharm, a two-time stakes winner this year at Oaklawn, will both be in action Saturday at Delta Downs. Bahnah will start as one of the top choices in the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess, while Donoharm makes his first start since the spring in the $150,000 Delta Mile. The races are two of eight stakes on a card led by the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot.

Sanders, 66, met Hirsch, 67, when he was CEO of Kimberly-Clark and Hirsch was CEO of Centex Homes. The men’s paths crossed at civic and charity functions in their hometown of Dallas.

“We were on a board together,” Sanders said. “I had started with one horse at Lone Star back in 1999, and I got up to five or six and Larry said he wanted to join in. I said, ‘No, you don’t!’ It’s grown from that.”

Sanders and Hirsch now have about 45 horses, with 20 of them at the track, between trainers Bret Calhoun, who has Bahnah and Donoharm, and Donnie Von Hemel. Sanders said he and Hirsch have another 19 yearlings that will receive their early training from the Diamond D operation founded by Ed and Caroline Dodwell.

[DELTA JACKPOT: Get PPs, watch Saturday's full card live]

Bahnah was a $62,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland September in 2012.

“She was very racy, well-conformed, but small,” said Sanders, who liked that her Glitterman dam, Flying Glitter, was a multiple Grade 3 winner of more than $500,000.

Bahnah debuted at Churchill Downs, and promptly earned one of the year’s fastest Beyer Speed Figures for a 2-year-old filly, a 91, for a romping win in a maiden special weight. She then won the Schuylerville before finishing sixth in the slop in the Grade 1 Spinaway, also at Saratoga.

“She’s been a pleasant surprise,” Sanders said. “She’s very small, but very fast. She’s had some tough luck lately, getting caught underwater at Saratoga. She came back and won the My Trusty Cat, the prep for this race, then got taken down. But we know she likes the track, and while there’s a tougher bunch coming in than we expected, we think she’ll be competitive.”

Bahnah will start as one of the top choices in a Princess field that also includes Grade 2 winners Miss Behaviour and Concave. Bahnah cruised by four lengths in the My Trusty Cat on Oct. 25, but was disqualified and placed fifth for a tussle on the final turn. Bahnah has since been working at Fair Grounds and will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik.

For Sanders, a former Chicago resident who often went to Arlington Park, and Hirsch, who grew up going to tracks in New York, Bahnah is one of the best horses they have owned. Others include Taptam, a six-time stakes winner; Chief of Affairs, a three-time stakes winner; Gran Lioness, winner of the My Trusty Cat in 2011; and Grant Jack, winner of the $250,000 Springboard Mile at Remington in 2010.