06/26/2008 11:00PM

Perseverance with Not Impossible pays off


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Queen's Plate winner Not Bourbon and Wood Memorial winner Tale of Ekati are the current headliners for the breeding operation of diamond king Charles Fipke.

But significant as Fipke's success has been with Tale of Ekati, the California-based breeding guru Jack Werk said that Fipke "literally created the Queen's Plate winner with his program."

Werk has been a consultant with Fipke since 1994 and said "you can't get him to do anything he doesn't believe in, but he's never wavered when he believes in something."

Fipke, a self-made billionaire in diamonds and precious metals, bred both the sire of Not Bourbon, the Sadler's Wells horse Not Impossible, and his full brother, Canadian champion Perfect Soul.

And Fipke believed so strongly in the mating that produced Not Impossible that he defied veterinary advice to give the horse a chance to race and then to stand at stud.

Fipke said that the story began with his purchase of the Secretariat mare Ball Chairman, whom he bought in foal to Dixieland Band.

"I liked her best and was lucky enough to get her," Fipke said. "She had the best conformation and the third-best pedigree of the 25 mares I inspected by Secretariat. She cost me $180,000."

The foal the mare was carrying turned out to be stakes-placed Dimontina, and after foaling, Ball Chairman shipped to Ireland, where she was bred to leading international sire Sadler's Wells.

Foaled in 1997, the first result of that mating was Not Impossible.

Fipke was elated with the budding star of his new stable, especially since Fipke said the foal was described "as one of the best that year by the sire" by horsemen from Ireland and Canada.

But Fipke recalled that "as a yearling, Not Impossible became a wobbler," an extremely serious condition usually caused by compression of the spinal cord that results in loss of coordination and movement.

The heartsick owner was "encouraged to euthanize him by two vets, and my Canadian adviser Russ Bennett suggested I phone the insurance company and work out a plan with them."

After making arrangements with the insurance, Fipke discovered that a "vet, Dr. Barry Grant, in a town nearby had developed an operation for wobbler's syndrome and sent him to Ireland to operate on the colt."

The colt survived the operation, and after lengthy stall rest, he began walking therapy, but one day fell over in the barn at Coolmore.

Fipke was told to put the colt down.

Instead, the owner-breeder said that he "sent the colt to a horse physiotherapist where he began to improve. We eventually were able to put him into training with Roger Attfield, for whom Not Impossible became studdish. I found some herbal remedies from Belgium, which reduced that problem, but the wobbler problem began to come on again."

The vets recommended euthanasia again.

Instead, Fipke said, "I sent him to Barry Grant again. During Not Impossible's training he developed a problem with his hind sesamoids, had two operations, then began swimming therapy. He would swim around the pool 10 times and eventually went back into training. Then, just before Not Impossible went to Bob Baffert for training, the colt started acting up on the track, lying down and being very difficult. So I sent him to the McKathans, who got him into training again. Then something went wrong, and he started rearing up, and none of the jockeys would ride him."

When tried, even Monty Roberts couldn't wean the horse from his ways, and Not Impossible was a fully grown animal by this time. So, Fipke said, "I decided to make the horse a stallion, but none of the farms in Ontario would take an unraced horse. During his three seasons, he averaged 15 to 20 mares, mostly my own."

Despite his owner's faith in Not Impossible, ill luck was not done with the horse. Fipke said that "at the farm where Not Impossible was standing, he colicked, was operated on, but had a rupture, and he had to be euthanized."

During the years that Fipke had been trying valiantly to get Not Impossible to show his ability at the racetrack, the second Sadler's Wells foal out of Ball Chairman had moved to the head of the class.

Perfect Soul won a Grade 1 stakes at Keeneland, became a champion in Canada, and was retired to stud in Kentucky at Darby Dan.

When it had became obvious that Perfect Soul would have a place at stud, Fipke began acquiring mares for the horse.

Werk said that Fipke "wanted to get a head start and began buying mares before Perfect Soul went to stud. I really liked Bourbon Belle," a multiple graded stakes winner by the Storm Cat stallion Storm Boot who earned more than $1.1 million during her career.

Having acquired Bourbon Belle for $600,000 as a mate for Perfect Soul prior to sending that horse to stud, Fipke liked the mating so much that he sent the mare to Not Impossible, and the result was the handsome chestnut colt Not Bourbon.

Werk said that "Not Bourbon was not part of the master plan" in Fipke's breeding operation, but "I've learned not to question his game plan, and his goal for Not Bourbon is the Breeders' Cup Classic following the Canadian Triple Crown."

Bourbon Belle has a yearling and a foal of 2008 by Perfect Soul.