03/09/2016 11:10AM

Donworth gives Reddam a presence beyond 3-year-old division

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Owner Paul Reddam bought Donworth for $550,000. He could recoup his investment in Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Donworth caught bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill’s attention at last November’s Keeneland breeding stock sale at about the same time that O’Neill was ready to leave for his California home.

O’Neill, the brother of trainer Doug O’Neill, took one look at the then-3-year-old Donworth and changed his schedule. He called his principal client, Paul Reddam, in Southern California and discussed buying the horse.

“I was buying yearlings and just screwing around,” Dennis O’Neill said. “I saw this horse, and I called Paul. I told him, ‘There’s a Tiznow in here that is unbelievable.’ ”

After a successful bid of $550,000, Reddam had a 4-year-old prospect for 2016. On Saturday, Donworth makes his Grade 1 debut in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.

“I don’t want to talk and watch him run seventh, but I’m looking forward to the Big Cap,” Reddam said last weekend.

Reddam’s hopes stem from Donworth’s California debut, a third-place finish in the $500,690 San Antonio Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 6. Donworth, trained by Doug O’Neill, led with a furlong remaining and grudgingly gave way to Hoppertunity and Imperative, losing by a half-length.

“You’d think to run a mile and an eighth off the layoff would be tiring, but he bounced right back out of it,” said Dennis O’Neill, 52.

Reddam considered sending Donworth to the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates on March 26 before deciding on the Big Cap.

The Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes was Donworth’s first start since an 11-length win in the Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park last June. At the time, Donworth was trained by Graham Motion for Regis Farms, which sold him through a dispersal at Keeneland. The colt did not start in the second half of the year while recovering from a knee injury, Reddam said.

Reddam, 60, is the owner of the loan company CashCall. In racing, Reddam and his wife, Zillah, are best known for owning I’ll Have Another, who won the 2012 Kentucky and Preakness Stakes. Reddam owns Nyquist, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and champion 2-year-old male of 2015 and a leading prospect for this year’s Triple Crown.

Reddam typically builds his stable with homebreds and yearling and 2-year-old purchases. He buys 3-year-olds and older horses less frequently.

Last year, Reddam had an outstanding year, with 54 wins and stable earnings of $4,702,077, just shy of the $4,710,382 earned in 2012.

Last year, his homebred Ralis won the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga and was 14th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Gomo, bought for $75,000 at a 2-year-old sale, won the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland last October and is in training for her first start of the year.

Frank Conversation, the winner of the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields this year, was bought for $120,000 at a 2-year-old sale. Nyquist, who has earned $1,733,600 and is unbeaten in six starts, was purchased for $400,000 as a 2-year-old.

The filly Land Over Sea was bought for $130,000 at 2 and has finished second to the champion Songbird in three stakes, including the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes last Saturday.

Dennis O’Neill bought those runners but is quick to acknowledge that it does not always work out. There were high hopes for Albeit, purchased for $240,000 as a 2-year-old. Albeit is winless in eight starts and has been second once.

“Albeit was the next coming,” Reddam said with a laugh. “She was going to win the [Kentucky] Oaks, and Gomo was an average filly.”

On March 2, O’Neill bought a Tapizar filly for $800,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of 2-year-olds at Gulfstream Park. The filly will be owned by the Reddams and Erik Johnson of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

Reddam sells prospects, too. Under the name Red Wings Enterprises, honoring his favorite hockey team, Reddam bought Mor Spirit for $85,000 at a yearling sale in 2014 and sold the colt for $650,000 at a 2-year-old sale last year. Trained by Bob Baffert, Mor Spirit will start as the favorite in Saturday’s $400,000 San Felipe Stakes.

“I thought I’d stay in for $500,000, and he went to $650,000,” Reddam said. “That was a business decision. It’s pretty exciting that he’s one of the top 3-year-olds. I don’t want him to beat us, but I’m rooting for him.”

The stable’s 3-year-olds and Donworth give the Reddams plenty of action for upcoming major stakes.

“We’ll be excited about whoever the du-jour horse is,” Reddam said. “We have an older horse that can compete at the top.”