Updated on 09/17/2011 5:54PM

Murphys bring touch of Africa to Ocala farm


Despite the surname, Bill and Annabel Murphy did not come to America from Dublin, Ireland. Their roots, instead, are in Durham, South Africa.

"Don't get me wrong," said Bill Murphy, "I still have a connection to the auld sod a couple of generations back."

These days, the husband and wife team reside in Ocala, Fla., where they operate a bloodstock agency and breed for both the market and the racetrack. They named their enterprise Elangeni Farm.

"Elangeni is Zulu language for 'place in the sun,' " explained Murphy. "It absolutely fits Ocala, don't you think?"

Murphy's first exposure to Ocala came in 1984 when he attended the Ocala Breeders' Sales for the express purpose of buying the Blushing Groom stallion prospect Our Casey's Boy for South African clients.

"We loved the place," recalled Annabel Murphy, "and I think we knew that we were going to relocate here."

The gregarious Bill Murphy lost little time in establishing Florida connections.

Murphy deals mostly in stallion prospects and relocating stallions that he feels are not in an optimum venue. One such horse was Sword Dance.

"I like stallion prospects that have strong families. By strong families, I mean families with solid stallions in the pedigree," Murphy said. "That's why I thought Sword Dance would do well, even though he was by Nijinsky II, who, at that time, was not considered a sire of sires."

Sword Dance spent most of his breeding years at Gilbert G. Campbell's Stonehedge Farm, where he sired the multi-millionaire Marlin among his 20 stakes winners.

Murphy's stallion trail does not end at Sword Dance. He was the agent behind the Canadian champion With Approval going to Live Oak Stud as well as Imperial Dilemma, now in South Africa, and Outflanker, who now stands in Maryland.

Murphy is responsible for two new Florida stallions for the 2005 breeding season - Great Pyramid and Black Mambo - and knows from experience that most newcomers with overseas connections are not an easy sell.

"Look," he said, "we all know that if a horse has great conformation, impeccable bloodlines, and a quality racing record, he's an upscale-caliber stallion and very, very expensive. I try to bring in one that has most of these qualities. I bought Great Pyramid from the Coolmore people. He is a gorgeous full brother, mind you, to classic winner and champion Rock of Gibraltar."

Murphy, as yet, has not found the right spot to locate Great Pyramid but is in the talking stage with a number of farms. Murphy thinks Great Pyramid's sire, Danehill, while deservedly known as one of the world's premier sires, has no relevance in Florida, where none of his blood exists.

"I am certainly not going to second-guess the Coolmore program," said Murphy, "but this horse ran five times in six weeks in Ireland and most were stakes, including the Irish 2000 Guineas. He was close up in all of them, but five times in six weeks for a horse with classic ambitions just doesn't ring right. But, if he had won a classic race, he would not be in Florida."

Murphy's other entry in the 2005 Ocala stallion market is Black Mambo, a stakes-placed winning son of leading sire Kingmambo and a half-brother to the stakes winners and successful sires Bite the Bullet (by Spectacular Bid) and Shuailaan (Roberto).

Murphy thinks that because Black Mambo is a son of the well-known Kingmambo, things moved faster for him. Black Mambo is now on the Bridlewood Farm roster at $5,000 live foal and a few syndicate shares remain at $15,000.