A pair of Victorian breeders tasted city racetrack success with two highly promising two-year-old colts over the weekend.
Tony Santic’s famed Makybe operation along with Todd and Sue Lichti both enjoyed a win as owners of Morphettville winner Unfair Dismissal and Flemington winner Visao respectively.
And it is not surprising considering breeders estimated fully or partly own more than 60 per cent of all racehorses in Australia.
With the famous silks of Makybe Diva’s red, white and blue on full display at Morphettville on Saturday, the highly promising Unfair Dismissal (All Too Hard), zoomed away with the Listed Oaklands Plate over 1400 metres.
With three wins and two placings from seven outings, Unfair Dismissal gained black type and trainer Tony McEvoy predicts a promising future for the promising two-year-old.
“He was a dominant winner…he’s got a terrific action…big, strong fellow. His pedigree suggests the further we get him out, the better he should be.”
Unfair Dismissal was bought by Santic at the 2017 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale for $120,000. He is from Exceed And Excel mare Up And Up, a daughter of Queensland stakes winner Altrista and a granddaughter of Group 1 winner Alynda,
“It was great to see those colours salute again on Saturday,” Makybe farm manager, Joe Murray pointed out.
“Since the ‘big girl’, Makybe has also raced Group 1 winning sprinter Headway and, in more recent times, the stakes horse Il Cavallo. The farm has also bred stakes winners, (Group 1 winning Hong Kong sprinter) Mr Stunning, (Group 1 Thousand Guineas winner) Amicus and (stakes winner) Debonairly.
Tony Santic’s Makybe operation currently has 14 horses in work (along with full or part-ownership in 10 yearlings), while a further 35 to 40 mares reside at his 500-acre property near Geelong in Victoria. Among those mares is, of course, Makybe Diva.
“She (Makybe Diva) has a rising 2YO filly by Brazen Beau that has been retained by Makybe and is just about due to enter a leading stable, while Makybe Diva is currently in foal to Written Tycoon,” Murray said.
On quite a different 2YO path is Visao, a horse Todd and Sue Lichti bought into following trainer Maher buying him for a mere $50,000 at last year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
On Saturday, Visao won the 1800 metre Byerley Handicap, a race designed to foster the staying-bred juvenile and providing the winner ballot free exemption into the Victoria Derby.
The Lichtis, who run a wine distribution business in Melbourne, “breed a few and race a few” but have enjoyed quite a deal of success in recent years despite the relatively small numbers.
They have bred Group 2 Challenge Stakes winner, Villa Verde (subsequently purchased for $1.1 million as a broodmare), this season’s Group 2 winner Pure Elation (in conjunction with Swettenham Stud) multiple city winner Wise Hero and last month’s 6-length Moonee Valley winner Miss Leonidas.
A former professional basketballer in both the NBA (North America) and NBL (Australia), Todd Lichti grew up in California and was enticed to come to Australia by good mate, school friend and Australian representative Andrew Vlahov.
It was during his time with the Perth Wildcats that Lichti met his future wife, Sue, and after a relatively brief stint back in America, the pair decided they wanted to raise their children in Australia and shifted down under in the early 2000s.
“I had no real interest in horses before moving to Australia, but it’s hard to avoid it here … especially in Melbourne,” Lichti says with a laugh.
“You go out for a coffee and either someone you’ve met or a friend of a friend has a racehorse and after a while you begin to wonder what you’re missing out on!”
Ciaron Maher’s Racing Manager, David Eustace, revealed that Visao would now be tipped out for a short break before being set on his Derby path.
“We can dare to dream,” Eustace points out.
That’s a dream that will certainly give the Lichtis plenty to talk about over coffee over coming months!