06/27/2016 12:46PM

Frommer hit pinhook bonanza

Fasig-Tipton Photo
Cary Frommer pinhooked two seven-figure 2-year-olds at this year's sales.

The end of the 2-year-old sales season in North America provides a chance for Cary Frommer to take a well-earned deep breath before she begins looking for her next prospects at the yearling sales.

Frommer, a veteran pinhooker based out of Aiken, S.C., is coming off her most high-profile auction season ever – and that’s saying something for the woman who has handled Grade 1-winning millionaires Joyful Victory and Bradester. Frommer was represented by two seven-figure pinhooks by Uncle Mo at two different sales this season. Their new connections will now be hoping that Frommer’s lifetime of evaluating top talent pays off.

“All the best horses I’ve been around lately have been very kind horses,” Frommer said. “I’m not saying they don’t nip or play or something, but they’re smart, intelligent horses, and I think that’s a real important trait with racehorses.”

Frommer came up on the racetrack exercise riding and working for several different trainers, including Hall of Famer Mack Miller. Eventually, her family decided it was time to settle in one place, to give her son Evan consistency. They selected Aiken, and Frommer turned her attention to pinhooking in 1999.

“I had worked on the racetrack for years,” Frommer said. “I’d kind of done my time with a lot of yearlings and kind of got an idea of what a yearling grows into by being around so many. . . . I had been pinhooking in my mind for years, looking at horses for years and saying, ‘Okay, I would have bought that one,’ and then following to see what they did.”

Frommer made her first big splash about a decade into the business, when she sold a colt from the second crop of Tapit for $850,000 at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training, making him the highest-priced horse ever sold at that sale at the time. Trappe Shot went on to become a multiple Grade 2 winner.

Just a year later, Frommer took a Tapit filly, who had been a $60,000 short yearling, and sold her for $400,000 to Fox Hill Farm at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of selected 2-year-olds in training. The latter operation successfully campaigned millionaire Joyful Victory to six stakes wins – including the Grade 1 Santa Margarita – and sold her for $2 million to Aaron and Marie Jones at the conclusion of her racing career.

Bradester, one of racing’s newest Grade 1 winners, was a true pinhook success story. Frommer purchased him as a young horse for $20,000 at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale from Marshall W. Silverman, who had landed him as a weanling for $13,000. Frommer then made back nearly 10 times her investment, selling him for $195,000 to agent Barry Berkelhammer at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale. Racing for owner Joseph Sutton, Bradester has won five graded stakes to date. He scored his first Grade 1 and became a millionaire by taking the Stephen Foster Handicap earlier this month.

During last year’s yearling sales, Frommer was among the savvy pinhookers to get in on Uncle Mo as his first crop was in the nascent stages of what would be a record-setting freshman season. The exploits of champion Nyquist, along with runners such as Gomo, Outwork, and Mo Tom, have caused the young sire’s value to skyrocket. Frommer purchased a second-crop colt out of the Sky Classic mare Setareh for $150,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale; shortly after, a colt out of the Two Punch mare Five Star Dream went for $90,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling sale.

Five Star Dream’s colt became the first million-dollar juvenile for Uncle Mo when he sold for $1 million to Stonestreet Farm and the Coolmore operation at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale. Coolmore stands Uncle Mo at its Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.

“I knew we were in good shape,” Frommer said. “I thought [$500,000], I’ve been there before. I’ve been to $800,000 before. But when the zeros popped up there, I just started crying. It was so funny. I had no control. I didn’t see that. I really didn’t.”

Setareh’s colt raised the bar, selling for $1.3 million to partners Mike Repole, who had campaigned his sire, and Coolmore at the OBS March sale.

Frommer got a third success story on the season as she sold a Medaglia d’Oro colt for $600,000 to Ruis Racing at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale. The May foal had been a $190,000 buyback at Keeneland September, underlying the importance of patience in pinhooking.

“He was immature as a yearling, and that’s why he didn’t get sold,” Frommer said. “He had a lot of immaturity. He just looked like two horses glued together. . . . He’s a May foal, he hasn’t been pressed at all. The owner was nice enough to let me wait until May to sell him instead of trying to push to get a faster return.”

Patience and integrity are the cornerstones to Frommer’s operation.

“I’ve always tried to keep my integrity intact, hoping that at some point, that’s what would sell the horses,” she said. “People trusting in me.”