Stone Farm: For half of a century.
If you take care of the land,
the land will take care of you.
We’re trying to raise you a good horse.
We sell only what we raise.
Anne M. Eberhard
Yearling was nicknamed “Curlin Jr.” by consignor Arthur Hancock.
COURTESY OF THE BLOODHORSE
By Claire Crosby and Meredith Daugherty
Only minutes before Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds struck the winning bid on a Curlin colt at the Aug. 6 session of The Saratoga Sale, the Thoroughbred racing veteran was glued to his phone, messaging potential partners, hoping to draw in enough players to make his money stretch just a little further.
“I can show you the texts (of how it came together),” said Finley, pulling out his phone to scroll through his messages.
FTSAUG, Hip 174: yearling, c, 2018, Curlin – America, by A.P. Indy; Breeder: B. Flay Thoroughbreds (KY)
Sale Price: $1,500,000
Buyer: West Point Thoroughbreds, Woodford, Siena, Valdes, Singleton, Sandbrook, Freeman
Consignor: Stone Farm, agent
In the end, the beautiful colt nicknamed “Curlin Jr.” due to the close resemblance he bears to his champion sire went the way of Finley and his partners on a final bid of $1.5 million. The list of partners on the winning ticket—West Point Thoroughbreds, Woodford, Siena, Valdes, Singleton, Sandbrook, and Freeman—was as long as Finley’s text chain.
“These are the kind of horses that when you see them, you have to stretch for,” Finley said. “I thought he’d bring between a million and two. I’m not good enough to figure out at what point they are going to drop the hammer, but I really like it when they start to slow down at $1.2 million and $1.3 million. Siena Farm jumped in, and I put all the owners on the signature line, but everything came together. That’s what you have to do with these horses. You have to put everything together, and then two or three minutes before the sale, everything really comes together, and that’s what happened with this colt.
“It’s so exciting to get your hands on these kind of horses. It’s all good. I’ve been in the business for like 40 years and I’ve been buying horses for 29 years, so up until two years ago, I would stand here and say, ‘Damn, I hope I can get to a point where someday I’ll be able to be in play with these kind of horses.’ I thank God. We’re very blessed to have the partners we have, and I love the power of the partnership. I’ll end it with that.”
Cataloged as Hip 174 by Arthur Hancock’s Stone Farm, the colt was joined by a Curlin colt sold earlier for $1.5 million to be the co-sale toppers of the Fasig-Tipton select yearling sale.
“Arthur Hancock is somebody that, as you grow up in the business, you come to appreciate the wisdom that he offers,” Finley said. “I know he really liked this colt, and that really sold me.”
“I was thrilled. I’m 76 and I’ve been doing it a long time, but I’m nervous as hell,” Hancock said. “You just never know. You get in there and some other Curlins bring in a lot of money, you say, ‘Gosh, there goes our Curlin money.’ It’s already been spent. But that’s the business. Sometimes it’s chicken. Sometimes it’s feathers. Tonight we got a nice, big roasted chicken, with potatoes and carrots and everything.
“(Curlin) is a great stallion, but I worried. But when you do what I do, you find anything to get nervous over. That’s what keeps us on our toes and keeps us working hard. It’s 24/7 hard work, but we love it. It’s what we do.”
Bred in Kentucky by celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s B. Flay Thoroughbreds, Hip 174 is the first foal out of the A.P. Indy mare America, who earned $580,532, won a grade 3 race, and finished third in four graded stakes, including two grade 1 events. The extended female family includes Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour, champions Rags to Riches and Peeping Fawn, and grade 1 winners Blush With Pride and Jazil, among other top-class runners.
“Every once in a while, when you try to put the right sire with the right family, it all sort of lines up,” said Flay, who was on hand to witness the seven-figure sale during Tuesday’s session. “Obviously tonight, the people who were in the buying pit agreed.”
Hancock, who raised the filly at his farm in Paris, Ky., said the colt was a standout individual from the start.
“He was a good-looking foal. He was the boss out in his field,” Hancock said. “We raised him in 80-90 acre fields. Some people say he’s a graduate of the Arthur Hancock School of Unarmed Combat. We raise them tough. Not to brag, but we raised three Kentucky Derby winners—a lot of good horses—and I hope he’s going to add to the roster.
“It’s a very big thrill to sell one up here like that for Bobby Flay. It’s a wonderful feeling, and he’s a wonderful horse. As I say, when you got one like that, and you got the opportunity to sell one like that, our job is getting him here in one piece and showing him the best we can, and he did the rest. Bobby bred a good horse. I told people Bobby breeds horses as damn near good as he cooks.
“I believe this can be a good horse. He has a lovely disposition. He’s a beautiful colt. The first foal. He’s courageous. I think he has every chance to make a good horse. That’s what we hope for now, that he’ll go on and do well.”
The colt represented a particular kind of thrill for Flay, who bred and campaigned America with Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott before finally retiring her to his broodmare band at the end of 2016. America has a Curlin filly “that looks just like Curlin again,” according to Flay, and is in foal to Uncle Mo .
“These are the kind of nights that you dream about when you’re trying to put a program together that is at the top of the best families in the stud book,” Flay said. “I bought the second dam, Lacadena, who is really the most valuable horse that I bought early on, and then she produced America. America had a really nice racing career, and to see her first foal by Curlin sell so well and be so well-liked in the sale, especially in a place where the best judges in the world show up, is very meaningful.
“And also to have him raised on Stone Farm, which I find it to be magic land, means a lot. That’s why I’m there. I love the family there, I think the Hancocks are amazing, and they have such fantastic land.”
Flay said he hopes the future success of his racing and breeding operation will inspire the next generation of his own family to want to continue on in the business and help build a new legacy.
“I have a daughter who is 23 who is now really interested in what’s going on,” he said. “So to watch her get older with the rest of the horse families maturing as well, it’s nice to watch Sophie experience it all. It’s all going to be hers at some point.”