07/08/2004 11:00PM

Pohave's win may elevate interest in Holy Bull

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Pohave accomplished quite a lot in the 1:21 that it took him to win the seven-furlong Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park last Saturday. He became the third stakes winner at the highest level for his sire, 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull. Pohave also became the first Grade 1 winner bred by Henry and Tim Pabst, and the gray gelding has come two-thirds of the way to matching his $750,000 cost as a yearling.

He did not, however, win the lion's share of that money for the couple that first bought him. Aaron and Marie Jones purchased Pohave at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 1998.

His current trainer, Doug O'Neill, said, "We bought him privately off Mr. Jones, who had him with [trainer] Larry Barrera."

The new owners - Tom and Jerry Kagele, Ty Leatherman, and Mark Leib - did not imagine that they had struck gold. The new acquisition made his first start in a $50,000 claiming race. Pohave won.

"That helped to build his confidence," O'Neill said. "He's continued to do really well since. Larry had done a great job with him, and Pohave is a beautifully put together horse: good-bodied, well balanced, very strong."

"Pohave was always a very nice colt," said Tim Pabst, who bred Pohave along with his father, Henry Pabst, "and he brought the highest price that year for any yearling by Holy Bull. In addition to being a good-looking colt, he also had the added advantage of Cat Thief's success."

Cat Thief's significance to Pohave is that their dams are full sisters, by Alydar out of Grade 1 winner Track Robbery. Storm Cat's son Cat Thief was a 3-year-old at the time of Pohave's sale in 1999, and Cat Thief, already a Grade 1 winner, also had run third in the Kentucky Derby, and second in the Haskell, Blue Grass, and Fountain of Youth. A few weeks after the September sale, Cat Thief won the Breeders' Cup Classic

Racing performance at that level provides a type of currency that nothing else rivals, creating high demand for relatives of top horses. The Pabsts were aware of this.

"He was consigned by Mill Ridge, where we kept the mare," Tim Pabst said. "We knew he was going to bring a pretty nice price because all the right people were looking at him. Bob Baffert bought him for Aaron Jones, and Wayne Lukas was the underbidder. I remember it like it was yesterday. And we followed him because he was the highest-priced yearling we had sold."

Pohave is the best racer from the Pabsts joint venture in breeding.

"My dad and I years ago had a partnership, but I quickly realized that he was much more risk-tolerant than I was," Tim Pabst said. "As a result, he took the racing stock; I took the breeding stock. He will turn 83 next month, and he still likes to race but doesn't have much interest in breeding. Says he doesn't even buy green bananas."

The mares that the elder Pabst has retained for breeding earned a place in his regard with their efforts on the track. "His five broodmares are all horses he raced, including a Grade 1 winner and a couple of Grade 2 fillies, all boarded at Mill Ridge," Tim Pabst said. "He generally sells everything else."

Henry Pabst has raced graded stakes winners Keats and Nite Dreamer, now both at stud, as well as Grade 1 winner Laramie Moon, who won the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap and is now a broodmare.

In 1998, the Pabsts sent Pohave's dam, Trail Robbery, to Holy Bull, who stands across the road from Mill Ridge at Darley at Jonabell. The result was Pohave.

"When standing stallions, you're always looking for a horse of Pohave's quality to come forward," said Jimmy Bell, director for Darley at Jonabell. "Holy Bull has been getting solid racehorses right along. His overall progeny earnings are good, but that is not coming at the hands of a few horses doing great things. Sometimes that's the cycle, with lots of good winners, then a top horse shows up."

Although the sales market recently has slowed for Holy Bull's offspring, the gray stallion has earned an honest niche at stud with nearly two dozen stakes winners. His stock tend to be good-sized, generally correct, with good bone and substance. Furthermore, Holy Bull is an outcross, which allows him to be mated with many of the Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector lines that don't need further inbreeding.

"For the stud fee," - $15,000- "he is solid and very popular," Bell said. "He covered 112 mares this year, and there is certainly a group of breeders willing to support him at that level."

With the stallion's ability to get quality horses such as champion Macho Uno and Frizette winner Confessional, perhaps Pohave signals the beginning of a resurrection for Holy Bull.