05/05/2005 11:00PM

Hughes aims to breed as well as buy


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The victory of Don't Get Mad in the Derby Trial put a second colt into the Kentucky Derby for owner B. Wayne Hughes, along with Illinois Derby winner Greeley's Galaxy. The accomplishment of making the Derby, especially with a pair of colts, is not lost on Hughes.

"The challenge of getting to the Derby is almost as great as the enormous thrill of winning . . . I think," Hughes said. "Buying horses, we've gone to the Derby three years in a row, and a lot of the credit there goes to Ron Ellis."

A significant buyer and owner of racehorses, Hughes bought both of his Derby colts at the 2-year-old sales last year. Don't Get Mad (by Stephen Got Even) sold in the Ocala Breeders' Sales March auction, after the colt breezed a quarter in 22 seconds. With a 25.5-foot stride length, Don't Get Mad recorded the sale's fourth-highest BreezeFig of 67, with a par of 61 for colts at a quarter-mile.

The following month at the Keeneland April sale, Greeley's Galaxy (Mr. Greeley) breezed a furlong in 10.40 and had a stride length of 24.75 feet, with a BreezeFig of 63 on a par of 59.

Both of the quick, long-striding colts have come to their best form this year, and their owner's success with his racing stock encouraged him to acquire an important stake in farmland and bloodstock in an effort to breed good horses as well as buy them.

In early summer of 2004, not long after purchasing Don't Get Mad and Greeley's Galaxy, Hughes closed on the acquisition of the historic Spendthrift Farm property north of Lexington.

Hughes said his decision to purchase the historic breeding farm was based "mostly on emotion."

"I went there, it was in bad repair, and it was for me a big piece of Kentucky and of the history of the Thoroughbred racehorse," Hughes said. "I bought it mostly for my grandkids to come here and be able to participate in the business in a little different way.

"Now, I'm ripping down the old barns and rebuilding. I want to reduce the mare population and make the accommodations better and healthier. We're getting it up to the point that it's a good place for broodmares, just raising the standard as to the physical capability of the farm."

As part of his renovation of the farm and plan for the future, Hughes hired Ned Toffey as farm manager. Toffey said Hughes "has about 60 broodmares, most of them on Spendthrift, but a few around the country in support of stallions in Maryland and California."

The majority of those mares based in Kentucky are bred to the Hughes stallions: Malabar Gold at Highclere, Malibu Moon and Action This Day at Castleton-Lyons, plus Teton Forest at Spendthrift. Seth Simkin, Hughes's racing manager, said Hughes owns two-thirds of Action This Day and half of Malibu Moon, with Castleton-Lyons owning a quarter and Country Life Farm in Maryland, Malibu Moon's former home, owning the last quarter.

"We sent 13 mares to Malibu Moon and about 10 to Action This Day, in addition to support for Malabar Gold and Teton Forest," Simkin said.

The focus of the breeding program at Spendthrift is Malibu Moon, whom Hughes described as the "the pride of my breeding operation in Kentucky."

A son of A.P. Indy and the Mr. Prospector mare Macoumba, Malibu Moon is the sire of last season's champion 2-year-old, Declan's Moon, who was a leading early spring contender for the Kentucky Derby before an injury sidelined him.

Bred and raced by Hughes, Malibu Moon won his maiden from two starts and has proven himself as a stallion after entering stud at Country Life for a fee of $3,000 live foal.

As a result of his initial successes, the bay son of A.P. Indy moved to Kentucky and is the kind of horse his breeder wants to produce.

"We're breeding to produce stallions," Hughes said, "and we will continue to add mares, buying quality and taking a long-term view. Last November, we bought Words of War, who foaled a Storm Cat filly [on May 1]."

Simkin noted that Hughes "contributes a lot to the breeding and mating ideas, along with Ron Ellis, Ned Toffey, and myself. Overall, we breed for the classics. We avoid sires that are exclusively sprinters, although we breed to fast horses like Grand Slam and Forestry that we feel have a good chance to get classic horses."