02/24/2014 4:57PM

Mepache, dam of Valid Expectations, dies at age 33


Mepache, the dam of multiple Grade 3 winner and leading Texas sire Valid Expectations, died Feb. 21 from the infirmities of old age. She was 33.

The Iron Constitution mare had been living as a pensioner on the farm of Royce Clay in Edmond, Okla., where she had resided since 2007.

“I was lucky enough and blessed enough to have her for seven years,” Clay said. “She was a grand old lady.”

Mepache won five of 26 starts during her racing career for earnings of $173,470, running as a homebred for Harry Mangurian Jr. Her on-track résumé was highlighted by a victory in the 1984 Schenectady Handicap at Aqueduct.

The mare was retired to Mangurian’s Mockingbird Farm in Ocala, Fla., now known as Winding Oaks Farm, where she produced 12 of her 17 foals. The most recognizable among them was Valid Expectations, who won Grade 3 races at Churchill Downs and Aqueduct, earned over $596,000, and became the all-time leading sire in Texas by progeny earnings.

During her time at Mockingbird Farm, Mepache also produced Grade 3 winner and $700,000 earner Little Sister, Grade 3-placed stakes winner and Texas stallion Littleexpectations, stakes winner Miss Valid Pache, stakes-placed New Mexico sire Copelan’s Pache, and stakes placed Babyexpectations.

Mockingbird Farm sold Mepache to John R. Gaines at the 1999 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. fall mixed sale for $200,000. She went through the ring carrying eventual Grade 3-placed Red Apache and had four more foals for her new owner.

Mepache was later cataloged at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale at age 26, following breeding seasons without a foal, but she was withdrawn before the sale and given to Clay, a co-founder of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program.

“I saw that she was in the Fasig-Tipton winter mixed sale, and she was 26 and hadn’t had a baby in a couple years and I said, ‘What’s going to happen to her?’” Clay said. “So, I just dialed up Olin Gentry [of Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds] and gave him my name and references and said I was willing to give Mepache a sanctuary for the rest of her life…That was at eight o’clock on a Monday morning, and at noon he called me back and said, ‘You can have that mare, but you’ve got to pay to get her out of Kentucky.’ I said ‘No problem.’”

Clay retired Mepache from breeding after the mare had produced 14 winners from 15 foals to race, including two graded stakes winners, two stakes winners, a graded stakes-placed runner, and two stakes-placed foals.

Even in the mare’s final years, Clay found that Mepache still had her share of devoted supporters.

“After I got her, people that I didn’t even know me sent me money saying, ‘Please take care of Mepache,’” Clay said. “She helped me as much as I helped her, because she let me know how many good people there still are in this world.”