03/27/2015 2:20PM

Valor Farm continues Scharbauer’s legacy

Coady Photography
Promise Me Silver, by farm stallion Silver City, is among the runners continuing the late Clarence Scharbauer Jr.'s legacy.

In the year since the passing of Clarence Scharbauer Jr., the Valor Farm operation he founded in Pilot Point, Texas, has continued his legacy of producing quality horses. My Golden Song ranks third on the state’s general sire list on the strength of his recent Grade 2 winner Thegirlinthatsong. Silver City has emerged as the hottest young stallion in Texas, and Scharbauer’s final stakes winner, Fiftyshadesofgold, has been bred to leading stallion Tapit. 

Meanwhile, the 393-acre Valor Farm continues to maintain all of the Kentucky elegance Scharbauer equipped it with when he and his late wife, Dorothy, built the facilities in 1991. The rolling pastures are dotted with robust broodmares, the fence lines are manicured, and the offices are decorated with memorabilia that walks one through the campaigns of such horses as Alysheba, the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner and 1988 Horse of the Year.   

It is an operation that continues to embrace the standards set by its founder because of the passion of Scharbauer’s sons – Clarence III, Doug, and Chris – who now own the facility, as well as Ken Carson, the farm’s longtime general manager who has taken great care to preserve the legacy of Scharbauer, who died in February 2014.

“We miss him,” Carson said. “He was a great storyteller, and it was fun to get his take on things. He was just kind of like a dad to all of us. And he loved horses of any kind, particularly racehorses. He loved a good horse more than anything. He was always talking up Texas horse racing. He loved running horses, and bringing in nice stallions.”

Beyond the main offices, the breeding season is in full swing with Valor Farm’s five stallions – My Golden Song, Early Flyer, Silver City, Crossbow, and Jet Phone – a destination for mares from around the Southwest.

“We’re actually ahead of last year, and hope to breed somewhere between 170 and 180 mares,” said Carson.

So it is business as usual this time of year, with one exception. Valor Farm was recently put up for sale. 

“It’s on the market,” Carson said. “Mainly, it’s kind of estate business. I think places like this take a while [to sell].”

Carson’s focus has been on developing stallions like the 9-year-old Unbridled’s Song son Silver City, who ranked 19th among all first-crop stallions in North America in 2014 with eight winners from 14 runners for progeny earnings of $324,134. He was also the leading freshman sire in Texas, with double the amount of winners of his closest rival and more than three times the progeny earnings. Silver City’s quick rise to prominence and his national ranking have delighted Carson.

“I tell you what’s absolutely remarkable is the fact that he’s on a list where most of the horses would be in Kentucky and have 80, 90 foals,” he said. “He had 21 foals his first crop.”

Carson said when Silver City entered stud, the industry climate in the state was at the lowest point he has seen and fewer people were breeding mares. Things have improved, and Carson said Silver City will end up covering somewhere around 40 mares this season.

Silver City’s leading earner is the undefeated Promise Me Silver, who has gone 6 for 6 while winning five stakes and earning $259,355. She races for her breeders, Myrna and Robert Luttrell, and is trained by Bret Calhoun, who also trained Silver City for Scharbauer.

Silver City won 4 of 8 starts, including the $50,000 Dixieland at Oaklawn. He also ran second in the track’s Grade 3 Southwest to early Kentucky Derby favorite Old Fashioned back in 2009. Calhoun has had a number of his offspring, including Silverhill, who ran second in last year’s Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs.

“They’ve been a very precocious group,” Calhoun said. “He was a fast horse, and a lot of his foals are fast, and I think the thing I’ve seen from some of the foals that I couldn’t get him to do was rate a little bit. Promise Me Silver is so versatile. She can do whatever you need her to do, be on the front end or be off of it, which makes me think she will stretch out and go longer distances.”

Calhoun had intended to race Promise Me Silver around two turns earlier this year, but winter weather hampered plans, and he said she instead will go six furlongs next in the $100,000 Instant Racing at Oaklawn on April 11. Calhoun said Promise Me Silver will then move to seven furlongs for the Grade 3, $200,000 Eight Belles at Churchill on May 1. The trainer won that race last year with Fiftyshadesofgold, who captured a division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Sam Houston just days before Scharbauer died. She is now retired and owned by Scharbauer’s son Doug.

“Doug’s very similar to his father,” Calhoun said. “He has a lot of interest in the business. He wants to run it like Clarence did. They like good horses.”

As for the success of Silver City, Calhoun said he is impressed with what the stallion has done with such a small crop. He also said he can see in the offspring the influence of the strong sire line of Silver City.  

“A lot of them have the Unbridled’s Song look to them,” he said. “They’ve got some leg and some length to them.”

Silver City is not the only Valor Farm stallion making a splash. My Golden Song, another son of Unbridled’s Song, started 2015 with a bang when Thegirlinthatsong won the Grade 2 La Canada on Jan. 17 at Santa Anita. In her most recent start, she was third in the track’s Grade 1 Santa Margarita. (My Golden Song is also the sire of the Fiftyshadesofgold.)

Carson said he recently had a call from a bloodstock agent representing an Australian interest, inquiring about either purchasing or shuttling My Golden Song. Carson said the agent mentioned the appeal of stallions who improve their mares. It’s too early to tell what might develop from the inquiry, said Carson. 

For now, the general manager of Valor Farm is focusing on the new cycle of life, overseeing about the same number of mares, foals, yearlings, and racehorses as in times past with Scharbauer.

“I’ve known his kids for 30 years so there wasn’t a huge change,” Carson said of operations. “They’re like family. They’re just a good bunch of people, and I’ve always been proud to be associated with them.”