Above: Authentic winning the Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is arguably the biggest and best known race in the world and this year’s running has a special association with Australia.
The race was won by Authentic and ended an estimated 50-year pursuit by American billionaire B. Wayne Hughes who established Spendthrift Australia in Victoria five and a half years ago.
The 86 year-old Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, is one of America’s best known breeding and racing organisations.
Authentic’s upset victory gave Spendthrift’s Australian operation great delight, according to its general manager Garry Cuddy.
“It’s been a pretty good few days, that’s for sure,” Cuddy said.
“We are very, very happy for the result to go our way and for the boss to fulfil his dream, it’s a big thrill to win.”
“It has been said that he has been trying to win the race for 50 years, and he’s had many good chances in the race over that time but never got the win.
“To have our other horse, Thousand Words, scratched in the paddock before they went out onto the track, you could be forgiven for thinking the Kentucky Derby curse had come again.”
“It proved we only needed one runner and it was great.”
Sired by Spendthrift’s American stallion Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday/Leslie’s Lady), Cuddy said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bob Baffert-trained Authentic join Spendthrift’s Australian roster.
“I would love to see Authentic here but we’d have to wait to let the dust settle and for everything to go to plan, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a press release in April or May next year to say he is on our roster, that’s for sure.
“He actually ran the sixth fastest Derby in the history of the race and two horses above him are Secretariat and Northern Dancer, so he is in pretty good company.”
And Cuddy is among about 4500 people who paid $USD206 for a micro-share in Authentic through MyRaceHorse.com, he says probably equates to him owning a single hair on the horse’s back.
“I am a shareholder in it along with my mum and some mates, so it has made the win all the sweeter,” he said.
“MyRacehorse is a fantastic concept and it has worked really well in the US. I believe there are about 4500 owners in Authentic, and if you think what that does for racing with an ownership group of that size winning the Derby.”
Cuddy said they had started the breeding season well at Spendthrift and had increased the quality of its stallion roster this year by introducing Spendthrift America shuttle stallions Omaha Beach and Vino Rosso. The pair will stand alongside Gold Standard, Overshare and Swear.
“Both horses have been met with great response so far and we’re limiting each of the horses to 100 mares because they are coming off a very busy northern hemisphere season, but we are confident we will go close to that cap with both of them,” Cuddy said.
“It’s obviously a very good achievement for the farm in uncertain times.”
Cuddy said Vino Rosso served 240 mares in the northern hemisphere season, while Omaha Beach had 220 mares.
“They had good fertility which is obviously crucial,” he said.
Cuddy said the point of difference with Spendthrift, along with Darley, are that they are probably the only two Victorian farms that have other international bases.
He said to be able to bring in horses of the quality of Omaha Beach (War Front/Charming) and Vino Rosso (Curlin/Mythical Bride) was fantastic for Victoria.
“At the end of the day we are bringing in horses that would be competitive in the Hunter Valley,” Cuddy said.
“They are standing here in our backyard which is fantastic for our local industry.
“You can tell by the response we have had to both of these horses that there are mares coming to our farm this year that in previous years would have been going to the Hunter Valley.
“To do that and be able to claw a few mares back, we take that as a win and hopefully we’ll continue to build on that in the years to come.”
Although in its infancy in Australia, Cuddy said Spendthrift had gone from starting with 10 broodmares to 70 last season.
He said the quality of the broodmare band had improved year-to-year.
“I think it’s crucial to build a solid broodmare band. We only support our stallions with our own mares, we don’t send our mares elsewhere and I think that is a key element for people to know that we are supporting our stallions with quality stock.”
Cuddy said Spendthrift had about 20 of their own horses in work with various trainers throughout the eastern states. Spendthrift’s Dirty Work (Written Tycoon/Maidel) ran third to Gytrash and Nature Strip in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
He said Spendthrift had rebuilt its stallion barn which was ready for the start of the 2019 breeding season.
There are 14 boxes and with five stallions currently on the roster, and Cuddy said there is plenty of room to accommodate potential stallions like Dirty Work and Authentic who is sired by Spendthrift stallion, Into Mischief.
“I think these are two horses that are potentially on the roster for next year and who knows what else is to come because we have a few other nice colts in work here in Australia and in America,” Cuddy said.