01/04/2013 1:59PM

Keeneland January: Curlin bloodlines big part of Fares's dispersal


An added measure of interest was injected into the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale when Issam Fares, best known as the breeder of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, announced plans to disperse his Thoroughbred breeding and racing stock. His dispersal will comprise 80 horses, with Lane’s End acting as agent.

Fares, a Lebanese politician and businessman, has been involved in the sport for more than 25 years. Included in his dispersal are several members from the family of Curlin, who was foaled at 760-acre Fares Farm in Lexington, Ky. Fares’s son Nijad, who manages his father’s racing business, indicated that Fares plans to retain the farm.

“While my father is exiting the Thoroughbred breeding and racing business to pursue other interests, Fares Farm and Lexington will always be his second home,” Nijad Fares said. “We look forward to continuing to be a part of this wonderful community.”

Born in Lebanon in 1937, Fares launched his own company in 1975 and became owner of Netherlands-based civil engineering and construction firm Ballast-Nedam, which played a key role in infrastructure building in Saudi Arabia. Eventually, he sold the business to British Aerospace, using the proceeds to invest in a variety of businesses in the U.S. and Europe. He now operates the Houston-based WEDGE Group.

Fares’s breeding program is headlined by 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin. The son of Smart Strike won eight Grade or Group 1 events, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup, Preakness, and two editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He retired with earnings of $10,501,800, making him the leading money-winner in North American history. Curlin stands at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky.

Fares also bred two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Da Hoss. Among the stakes winners he purchased and raced in his own silks was Miss Alleged, who earned the Eclipse Award as champion turf female in 1991 after defeating males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes.

After Lebanon was devastated by a 15-year civil war that ended in 1990, Fares returned to his home country and began a career in politics, with the goal of helping to rebuild. He joined parliament in 1996, and served as deputy prime minister from 2000 to 2005. Time commitments led Fares to disperse most of his stock in 1998 to focus on his political career. Included in that dispersal were Miss Alleged and 1986 Horse of the Year Lady’s Secret, whom Fares had purchased for $3.8 million at the 1989 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. However, Fares did retain his Kentucky farm and a small broodmare band, including, fortuitously, Sherriff’s Deputy, dam of Curlin. Fares also owns Haras de Manneville in France.

Included in the Keeneland dispersal is Canadian champion Embur’s Song, a recent standout on the track for Fares. The Unbridled’s Song mare won three Grade 3 races in 2011 and claimed the Sovereign Award as champion older female in Canada. She will be offered carrying her first foal, by Giant’s Causeway.

Three horses from the immediate family of Curlin, including two half-sisters to the champion, will be sold in the dispersal. Among them is a yearling Distorted Humor filly who is the final foal of the Deputy Minister mare Sherriff’s Deputy, who died last year at age 18 after a battle with laminitis.

Another of Sherriff’s Deputy’s daughters, Deputy Saint, will be offered in foal to Lemon Drop Kid. The unraced 6-year-old is from the only crop of 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. Deputy Saint’s first foal, a yearling Speightstown filly, follows her in the sale ring.