“Live the dream of thoroughbred ownership” is more than just an slogan to Sallusto & Albina clients. In 2017 especially, some major dreams were realized on the racetrack and in the sales ring.
Private buy Tommy Macho kicked the year off with a big win in the January 14 Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. It was the third Graded victory for the son of Macho Uno, who would go on to place in several more Graded events including the historic Metropolitan Handicap (G1) for owners Paul Pompa, Jr. and J Stables.
“It was a really good purchase,” said Pompa last spring. “He’s been hard-knocking for the last two or three years. I’ve bought a lot of nice horses from Nick, D’Funnybone, This Ones For Phil, Franny Freud. Nick has a lot of credibility with me.”
Another private purchase, Beach Patrol, embarked on what would be an Eclipse Award-worthy 2017 campaign in the February 4 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1). He used that race as a springboard to a close second in the subsequent Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby day before finding his peak form later in the summer. He conquered a strong international field in the Arlington Million (G1) on August 12 and simply dominated a similar group in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic S. (G1) in late September. Off of those efforts the Lemon Drop Kid colt was sent off as the second choice in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in which he finished a valiant second to Godolphin’s Talismatic.
James Covello, who owns Beach Patrol along with Head of Plains Partners, LLC and Sheep Pond Partners, summed up the Turf (and Beach Patrol’s 2017 season) best when he tweeted:
“So proud of Beach Patrol. One of the hardest trying horses you will ever see. Ran tremendous. Horse of a lifetime.”
While Beach Patrol fell just short of a Breeders’ Cup trophy Caledonia Road did not, using an explosive late run to capture the Juvenile Fillies (G1). In the weeks leading up to the race Nick and Hanzly brokered a deal with owners Zoom and Fish Stable and Charlie Spiring to bring longtime clients Newton Anner Stud into the partnership.
“Two years and two Grade 1 fillies, Off the Tracks and Caledonia Road. What more can I say?,” said Newton Anner’s Maurice Regan after the race. Sallusto & Albina also purchased 2016 Mother Goose S. (G1) heroine Off the Tracks for Regan.
Small Track, BIG Win
It’s hard to surpass the euphoria of the Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle but the win by Curlish Figure in the $50,000 Shirley Vargo Handicap at Northlands Park was perhaps the most emotional victory ever by a Sallusto & Albina client.
Nick and Hanzly were charged with finding a horse specifically for the July 8 race by Robert Vargo and Norm Castiglione, who race under the Riversedge Racing nom de plume. The Shirley Vargo Handicap is named for Robert’s beloved late wife, so when Curlish Figure crossed the wire in front there were no dry eyes to be found.
“It was tight with the ship (from Delaware Park after the June 10 Obeah Handicap) but we’re so happy for Robert and his family that it all worked out,” Hanzly Albina said after the race.
Riversedge Racing also had a big year with 3-year-old Trooper John who was purchased as a yearling by Nick and Hanzly. The son of Colonel John ran his stakes win streak to five with a score in the July 15 Count Latham Handicap before tough-luck seconds in both the Canadian Derby (G3) and the British Columbia Derby (G3).
Meanwhile back east, private purchase Stallwalkin’ Dude was adding to his New York legend. The 7-year-old won three more stakes on the NYRA circuit, the Diablo Stakes at Belmont Park, the Tale of the Cat Stakes at Saratoga (for a third time), and the Fall Highweight (G3) at Aqueduct. The latter was his 20th career victory and upped his bankroll to $1,688,852.
NYRA analyst Andy Serling showed his admiration for ‘The Dude” on twitter: “If there was a Hall of Fame for the hard-knockers, Stallwalkin‘ Dude is in that Hall of Fame.”
Nick and Hanzly were pleased to help welcome Michael Iavarone back into the thoroughbred business with the top-class filly Dignity and Grace. A piece of the 2-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom was purchased on behalf of Iavarone after her promising debut win on September 16. She earned a “TDN Rising Star” badge with her October 18 Allowance performance in which she dominated by 5 ¼ lengths. The filly finished a hard-luck second in the subsequent Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine.
Iavarone was a princpal partner in IEAH Stables for whom Sallusto & Albina purchased the likes of Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Big Brown, Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Kip Deville and Eclipse Champion Sprinter Benny the Bull.
It was a big year in the sales ring for Sallusto & Albina clients as well. On August 7, a filly by Curlin out of the Bluegrass Cat mare Purple Cat sold for $750,000 at the prestigious Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling sale. Her price tag was highest for a filly during the first session. Purchased by Juddmonte Farm, the filly was bred and raised for Newton Anner Stud by Sallusto & Albina. The following evening, a Newton Anner-bred daughter of City Zip sold for $325,000.
Earlier in the year at the OBS April Two-Year-Old in Training Sale, a Sallusto & Albina pinhook brought $165,000. The filly by Violence was purchased just 7 months prior for $55,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling auction.
Second Career Success
It was also a gratifying year for Nick and Hanzly as they watched their yearling buy Violence emerge as one of the most promising young stallions in North America. The Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm-based son of Medaglia d’Oro ended the year with 31 winners and 4 blackytype winners both tops among first year stallions.
“Violence looks like he’s going to be a helluva sire…” breeder Gabriel Duignan told The Blood-Horse in September.
Violence was purchased by Sallusto & Albina at the 2011 Keeneland September Sale and captured the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity less than a 18 months later.
Standing alongside Violence at Hill ‘n’ Dale is Kantharos, who was purchased by Sallusto & Albina the ‘09 Keeneland September sale. He was later resold as a two-year-old and became an unbeaten multiple Graded Stakes winner for Stonestreet Farm. He originally entered stud in Florida but earned his way to Hill ‘n’ Dale in Central Kentucky with a string of top class runners. That success continued in 2017 with the graded winners X Y Jet and Bucchero, who earned his way into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) with an impressive tally in the Woodford Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
It not just the Sallusto & Albina-purchased colts who are enjoying fantastic second careers. The filly Lilacs and Lace was purchased privately prior to her upset victory in the 2011 Ashland Stakes (G1) and is now the dam of Lucky Lilac, the leading 2-year-old filly in Japan after her triumph in the December 10 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Overall, horses purchased, and bred/raised/mated by Sallusto and Albina won 15 Stakes races and placed in 22 others, including nine total Grade 1 wins/placings.
Other 2017 highlights:
- Mating Con Te Partiro became the first horse to win a Stakes race at both Saratoga and Royal Ascot when she captured the Sandringham Stakes at the 2017 Royal Ascot meeting.
- Yearling purchase Awesome Slate won the Premiers Handicap (G3) on October 8.
- 2-year-old purchase Royal Squeeze won the Jeblar Stakes at Gulfstream Park on April 30.
- Yearling purchase Dark Templar, a $475,000 son of Tapit, won his debut at Churchill Downs carrying the colors of Newton Anner Stud on November 4.
- Moondance, an $800,000 yearling bred and raised for Newton Anner, broke her Maiden in New York on November 9.
- 2-year-old purchase Royal Inheritance reeled off 3 straight Allowance victories in New York capped off by a brave wire-to-wire win at Saratoga on August 6.
- Yearling purchase Drunk Philosophy rolled in her debut by 4 1/2 lengths on June 1.
- Private purchase Blessed Halo scored a 3 1/4 lengths Maiden Special victory at Belmont Park on May 13
- 2-year-old purchase Pleased impressed in her racing debut, drawing off by 4 1/4 lengths in a Gulfstream Park Maiden Special on May 7.
- Private purchase Jakob’s Rocket Girl came off a 8 month layoff to wire an Allowance contest for Riversedge Racing on December 23 at Tampa Bay Downs.