07/28/2017 2:40PM

McCormacks hit jackpot at 2011 Keeneland sale

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Michael Burns
Cool Catomine wins the Prince of Wales Stakes last Tuesday.

The Keeneland November breeding stock sale is often where the dominos are set for racing trends in the coming years, but rarely does it have the kind impact that Bernard and Karen McCormack of Mapleshade Farm created with their purchases during the 2011 renewal, especially at their price point.

The McCormacks bought the dams of two eventual Canadian classic winners – 2016 Queen’s Plate winner Sir Dudley Digges and this year’s Prince of Wales Stakes winner, Cool Catomine – at the same November sale for a combined $70,000.

Breeding two Canadian classic winners in as many years is even more impressive considering that those mares made up a quarter of Mapleshade’s broodmare band.

“After the Plate last year, that was a breakthrough for us, and for us to win the next leg the following year just gives me goose bumps,” Bernard McCormack said. “Obviously, when you breed these horses, it’s so personal – a small, little farm like ours, to get two classic winners out of a broodmare band of eight, I don’t know what the odds are, but it’s a longshot, and [Cool Catomine] was a longshot horse, and he got it done.”

The past year-plus of racing has been a highlight for the Janetville, Ontario, operation, which was developed in 2004. The McCormacks also consigned both classic winners at auction under their Cara Bloodstock banner, which is in its 20th year in operation.

Sir Dudley Digges, a Gio Ponti colt, was sold as a weanling for $72,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale. He later ended up with Ken and Sarah Ramsey and added a runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Stakes to his classic win. The colt has returned at age 4 to become a solid U.S. turf runner for the Ramseys.

McCormack bought his dam, the stakes-winning Kris S. mare My Pal Lana, for $45,000 at the Keeneland November sale. The mare died of foaling complications in 2014, the year after producing Sir Dudley Digges.

Cool Catomine, a son of Spring At Last, went to trainer John Ross as agent for $29,305 at the Ontario Division of the 2015 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society premier yearling sale. He races for Jack of Hearts Racing and J.R. Racing Stable.

McCormack is plenty familiar with Cool Catomine’s sire line. As general manager at E.P. Taylor’s Windfields Farm in Ontario, he managed paternal grandsire Silver Deputy.

The dam, the unplaced Smart Strike mare Smart Catomine, was a $25,000 buy at Keeneland following the death of her previous owner, Canadian Hall of Fame horseman Robert Anderson. Cara Bloodstock consigns her Flashback filly at this year’s CTHS Ontario yearling sale.

“I was actually there to buy the foal and switched to buying the factory,” McCormack said about buying Smart Catomine. “The foal turned out being Wild Catomine, who was second in the Woodbine Oaks. Any time you have a mare with two classic horses under her, it’s nice to have her in the paddock.”