07/08/2013 10:53AM

Jay Bergman: For Young, quality always trumps quantity

New Image Media
Owner Richard Young (center) stands with I Luv The Nitelife, trainer Chris Ryder (left), and driver Tim Tetrick.

Almost every owner of a horse in the Standardbred industry is looking for lightning to strike twice. But for some, including Richard Young, there is no such expectation.

“Once I hit with a particular family, I move on,” Young said of his strategy for finding the best yearlings.

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Young may be considered an expert in recent times, if not all time, considering his pinpoint accuracy in selecting Put On A Show and I Luv The Nitelife, the former being one of the greatest pacing mares of all time and the latter a favorite to capture Saturday’s $184,250 Mistletoe Shalee at the Meadowlands.

Young has owned horses for the better part of 25 years and has been known to pay significant sums for what he likes. But over the last few years, he’s refined his approach to ownership.

“There’s no way to be profitable in this business unless you own less than 10 horses at one time,” Young said with some certainty.

Clearly, Young, who enjoys creating unique names for his yearlings and loves all aspects of the game, has become acutely aware of the pitfalls of falling in love with one’s own horses.

“I’m looking to find a horse that can compete at the highest level,” he said. “If my trainer doesn’t believe we have a top-10 horse, then I will look to sell.”

Fortunately for Young, his trainer, Chris Ryder, provides the expertise necessary to help him achieve his goals.

“I think the best thing about Chris is that he’s a great communicator,” Young said.

Last year, Young sold the then-3-year-old pacer I’m The Pied Piper to the Ron Burke stable for $175,000.

“He had already made $100,000 for us at the time of the sale, and Chris didn’t think he was a top-10 colt,” Young said.

At the same time, it can’t be easy for a trainer to part with a sophomore pacer who has hit six figures in June and has such high earning potential.

“An owner has to make money,” Ryder said. “If he’s losing money, he’s not going to buy more horses.”

In actuality, I’m The Pied Piper missing his 2-year-old season was one of the biggest reasons Young was able to purchase his half-sister, I Luv The Nitelife, for just $60,000 in the fall of 2011.

“We knew something about the potential of I’m The Pied Piper that no one else did,” Young said.

Back in 2001, Young was known for spending lavishly on yearlings with impeccable bloodlines. He purchased a Jate Lobell-sired filly whom he renamed Donkeys Can Talk for $162,000 that fall. She was the first foal of the $1.4 million winner Stienams Place. The filly was a success on the racetrack in that she earned $153,164, but she wasn’t a home run.

In 2004, he purchased Donkeys Can Talk’s half-sister by Camluck as a yearling for $80,000 and named her Dolphins Can Talk. She too would race and take a 1:52 1/5 record but never reached the top of her class.

In 2008, Young had not given up on the family, and this time for just $75,000 he purchased Put On A Show, an incomparable filly who went on to earn $2.4 million and set a world record of 1:47 4/5.

What’s impressive about Young in recent times is his focus and discipline when it comes to selecting and purchasing yearlings. Last year, he paid $175,000 and $107,000 for two pacing fillies. Sticking with his plan of moving on after he hits, he avoided the bidding wars that pushed the next two foals of Stienams Place to sell for a combined $470,000.

In addition to not wishing to own more than 10 racehorses at a time, Young also goes to the yearling sales with a definitive plan.

“I’m looking to buy just two yearlings each year,” he said. “I’ve got a very short list for each sale.”

Indeed, Ryder confirmed that his work is pretty cut and dry when it comes to helping Young look at yearlings.

“He generally has only five or six for me to look at,” Ryder said.

Over the last two years, Young’s focus has given him four stakes-caliber fillies. I Luv The Nitelife obviously stands above the rest, but Young has high hopes for his 2-year-olds this year as well as for the second half of his 2010 yearling collection, a horse named I Got To Boogie.

“It’s the next line in the song,” Young said, referring to his disco-era favorite.

I Got To Boogie finished third in her second start as a 3-year-old in a division of the Town Pro series last Friday at Mohawk.

“I don’t think she’s a top-10 horse,” Young said, confirming the notion that she’ll be sold in the near future.

Young is impressed with both of last year’s yearling purchases. He even went so far as to pick a name for the more expensive one that is close to that of his former champion, though Put On A Display, his 2-year-old filly, is unrelated in blood to Put On A Show.

Put On A Display is a filly by Somebeachsomewhere from the maternal family of Rocknroll Hanover. She captured both of her baby races at the Meadowlands in June, winning in 1:54 3/5 with a 56 1/5-second final half-mile June 29 and giving Young the kind of goose bumps he looks for in this business.

Ryder confirmed that Put On A Display will make her career pari-mutuel debut Friday in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes event at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

I Need Hotstuff, Young’s other juvenile filly, finished fourth in a New Jersey Sire Stakes at the Meadowlands on Saturday, an improved if not inspiring performance.

On Saturday, I Luv The Nitelife will try to continue her reign over the 3-year-old pacing fillies in the Mistletoe Shalee at the Meadowlands. It’s one of a few races that eluded Put On A Show during her brilliant 3-year-old season.

Off the strength of her victory in the Lynch at Mohegan Sun at Pocono a week ago, Ryder dubbed I Luv The Nitelife “The Iron Lady,” a fitting moniker considering the rugged nature of her victories.

The disco era may be over, but for Young, the hits just keep on coming.

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