01/18/2017 1:40PM

Miller to stand stakes winners in Pennsylvania, Maryland

Barbara D. Livingston
Red Vine will stand for an advertised fee of $2,500 at Xanthus Farm in Gettysburg, Pa.

Olympic gold-medal-winning skier Bode Miller’s interest in horse racing has been well documented, so it was no surprise to see his name among the buyers at the Keeneland January sale of horses of all ages.

What did surprise was seeing Miller’s name on the $25,000 ticket for Grade 1-placed stakes winner Red Vine – a stallion prospect.

It was the next logical progression in Miller’s involvement in the Thoroughbred industry, from racehorse owner, to aspiring trainer, to standing stallions, with the ultimate goal of running the horses he breeds himself. In Red Vine and the multiple stakes winner Unfettered, Miller finally has the stallions to advance those goals in 2017.

Red Vine, a son of Candy Ride, will stand at Xanthus Farm in Gettysburg, Pa., and Unfettered, by Rockport Harbor, will enter stud at November Hill Farm in Chestertown, Md., both for an advertised fee of $2,500.

Much of Miller’s philosophy toward the stallion business is based on patience, identifying opportunities, and seizing them. Securing Red Vine at auction for the right price was one of those opportunities. Had the bidding risen another $5,000 or $10,000, the skier said he would have passed instead of getting locked into a bidding war.

Another was choosing to stand stallions in regional markets with lucrative breeding programs where he can build his interests his own way, instead of staring down the juggernauts in Kentucky or quietly buying into shares of stallions.

Miller owns a barn at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland and said the proximity to that base also helped place the new additions.

“I think the incentive programs are great in both states, and it gives a stallion a fair chance,” he said. “If you’re thoughtful and careful about the selection process of who you breed them to and support them the right way, you can give them a chance to show if they are viable in the breeding shed.”

Miller’s director of operations for his stallion interests is Maria Vorhauer of November Hill Farm, formerly the manager of Dana Point Farm in Lenhartsville, Pa. The two first met in 2015 when Miller was inspecting Dana Point for a potential purchase. He passed on the farm but found a potential business partner who joined Miller’s team when her time at Dana Point was through.

“I think Bode’s a very smart man, and he’s sat back and watched a lot of things for a long time,” Vorhauer said. “He’s not starting big, he’s starting the way you’re supposed to – just taking a little bite and learning as we go.”

Red Vine retired to Pennsylvania with five wins in 23 starts for $775,915 in earnings. He had a career season in 2015, winning the Majestic Light Stakes and placing in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Pacific Classic, and Cigar Mile.

“I watched him race the whole end of his career,” Miller said. “I loved the running style. It reminded me very much of Candy Ride when I watched him run, that kind of miler style. He could run on any surface and have that same kind of ability to come off the turn and just dig in.”

Unfettered was more of a passion project for Miller. The horse spent the bulk of his career racing in New Mexico, with the occasional sojourn to Southern California. He won his first four starts by margins of 3 1/4 to 10 1/2 lengths and notched four stakes wins in New Mexico but abruptly fell down the class ladder.

Miller, who had watched the horse since his early wins, tried repeatedly to claim Unfettered, who changed hands in each of his final three starts, and finally acquired him privately.

Unfettered’s pedigree page and physical characteristics made him more than just a charity case for Miller. The horse is a half-brother to two stakes-placed runners and hails from the family of Grade 1 winner Unbridled Belle and Grade 3 winner Classic Endeavor.

“I’ve seen in my sport that opportunity is what dictates your perception of success at some point, and he was mismanaged and didn’t get the opportunity to run in the races that probably would have set him in the class that he was in,” Miller said. “I bought him more or less to save him and to see how he was doing. Once I dug into it more and went way back and did a bunch of different crosses, looked into his pedigree, and did a workup on his conformation – I like the biometrics stuff – just to fill in my picture, and he really is a pretty spectacular horse.”

Though Red Vine enters the stallion market just weeks before the start of the breeding season, Vorhauer said she heard almost immediately from interested breeders from as far as New York and Florida and expects to get about 100 mares in his first book. She expected Unfettered to get 40 to 50 mares.

Miller owns about 15 mares, and Vorhauer said they will be split between the two stallions.

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