12/20/2012 6:00PM

Havre de Grace settles in to farm life, mate to be decided [Poll]

Fasig-Tipton Photo
Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, who sold to Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm for $10 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale, will be bred for the first time in 2013.

In November, Havre de Grace grabbed one more headline before heading off to her breeding career when she became the highest-priced broodmare prospect ever sold at public auction, going to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $10 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale.

A month later, the 2011 Horse of the Year has settled into the next stage of her life, as a coming broodmare, at Wayne and Cathy Sweezey’s Timber Town Stable in Lexington, Ky.

The 5-year-old Saint Liam mare resides in a five-acre paddock at Timber Town with 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, who Pope purchased the day after signing the ticket for Havre de Grace, buying her for $4.2 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

“She and Plum Pretty are paddock-mates, so there’s $14.2 million in one paddock, which is kind of unnerving at times, but they haven’t caused a minute of problem,” Wayne Sweezey said. “They came in and settled in like pros.”

Havre de Grace will stay with her high-priced pasture-mate through the breeding season, then once bred, will be put in with the rest of the farm’s mare population.

Sweezey described Havre de Grace as a strong, opinionated mare who always wants her way. However, he said her daily routine is the same as any other mare on the farm.

“She probably gets more carrots than anybody else,” Sweezey said. “Beyond that, it’s just the normal turnout and prepping for breeding season. Both of them have been checked, both of them have active ovaries, so we’re anticipating both mares getting in foal early.”

While having a record-priced mare on the property has raised the visibility of Timber Town, Sweezey said that little has changed around the farm, aside from a few extra calls and visitors and a new electric gate. One thing that hasn’t changed is the Sweezeys’ friendship and working relationship with Pope, who has been a client for 15 years and a friend for longer.

“I talk to Mandy four to five times a week probably,” Sweezey said. “She’ll come up and spend some time with the mares. She’s got 20 mares with me, so she spends time with all the mares, and she loves her foals.

“They foal out in Kentucky, then they ship down to Mandy’s farm,” he continued. “Mandy’s got a beautiful farm in Ocala [Florida], and she likes to raise her babies down there. She’s got a great farm, a great staff, and they always come back to me in great condition when they get ready to sell them.”

Big decision

Havre de Grace produces a unique breeding opportunity for her new owner for several reasons. Aside from the uncertainty that comes with a mare’s first mating, she is from the only crop of her sire, 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, who died in a paddock accident after his first season at stud.

On top of that, her eight-figure price tag means her foals will have to be extraordinarily appealing in the commercial marketplace in order to help recoup her purchase price. Pope has said that she plans on selling the mare’s first few foals.

While the stallion mating has not yet been announced publicly, there is no shortage of intriguing options.

Freelance pedigree consultant Anne Peters recommends Malibu Moon for Havre de Grace. The 15-year-old A.P. Indy horse stands at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington for an advertised fee of $70,000.

“I like her with any A.P. Indy horse because she goes back to the same Missy Baba family as A.P. Indy, and Malibu Moon is a direct son of A.P. Indy, getting that Missy Baba linebreeding as close as possible [6x5],” Peters said. “She's sired by Saint Liam, whose dam was by Quiet American, so the cross is similar to the A.P. Indy/Quiet American cross found in Bernardini. Her sire, Saint Liam, is a Halo grandson, and Malibu Moon is one of the few sires in the elite price range that has shown a strong affinity with mares from the male line of Halo, Hail to Reason and Turn-to.  Devil May Care and Kauai Katie are examples of that. 

“Malibu Moon also sired Life At Ten out of a mare by Rahy, and Rahy's dam, Glorious Song, was a full sister to Saint Liam's sire Saint Ballado,” Peters continued. “I think the mating is a nice blending of favorable crosses and linebreeding that could produce a classic-level colt or filly.”

Chad Schumer of Schumer Bloodstock Agency suggests that Havre de Grace should travel across the Atlantic for a date with global powerhouse Galileo. A 14-year-old son of Sadler’s Wells, Galileo stands at Coolmore Stud in Ireland for a private fee.

“He’s the best stallion in the world; she’s the best racehorse in America. I think the cross works perfectly,” Schumer said. “Northern Dancer on Turn-to has always been very successful, and that’s essentially what you’re looking at here, going back a bit. I think you have to go back to the old theory of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best.

“My only hesitation is that she is out of a Carson City mare, which is Mr. Prospector, and he is out of a Miswaki mare, which is Mr. Prospector,” he continued. “But, perhaps that reinforcement of the classic American stallion would make Galileo more adaptive to our conditions [in North American racing].”

If Havre de Grace were to stay in the U.S., Schumer said his choice would be Tapit or Bernardini.