06/02/2011 2:24PM

McNairs get back into racing

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Janice and Robert McNair, who sold their successful Stonerside Stable breeding and racing operation to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum three years ago, are back in the racing game. The Houston, Texas-based couple have not campaigned a horse since 2009, when their homebred millionaire Cowboy Cal retired to stud.

But they recently paid $160,000 for an unnamed 2-year-old Smart Strike-Charge d’Affaires colt now in training with Bob Baffert, and they also own a pair of juveniles in England in partnership with trainer John Gosden and his wife, according to bloodstock advisor John Adger. The 2-year-olds in England are an Elusive Quality-Gout de Terroir filly named Elusive Kate who is expected to debut soon, and an Exchange Rate-Cut Short colt named Fluctuate.

The unnamed Smart Strike colt in Baffert’s barn who appears unlikely to start in the early summer and could wait until fall, said Adger. The colt is a half-brother to two-time Grade 3 winner Hostess and to Grade 2-placed Pretty ’n Smart, now a graded stakes producer.

“They’ve been in the business with their stallions and stallion shares,” Adger said of the McNairs, “and they always said they might buy another horse or two. It’s really just to have some fun. Janice loves the game and so does Bob, and it’s fun for them to have something racing. They loved Stonerside and the business, but it just got to be where Bob had to focus more on his main business, which is the Houston Texans [National Football League team].

“There are no plans to buy a farm and go back into it,” Adger said of any larger-scale involvement.

The McNairs stand Congaree and Stonesider at Highcliff Farm in New York and also stand Cowboy Cal and Bob and John in partnership with kentucky’s Pin Oak Stud.