Belmont Stakes Winner's Breeder: Taking the Cake

Belmont Stakes Winner's Breeder: Taking the Cake
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
William Entenmann, left, bred Belmont Stakes winner Sarava. In this 1997 photo, he is pictured with steeplechase rider Arch Kingsley, center, and trainer Jonathan Sheppard.
Published in the June 15 issue of The Blood-Horse
In 1898, when the Belmont Stakes was already more than 30 years old, William Entenmann began a small bakery business in Flatbush, N.Y. The German immigrant had something in common with racetracks--horses. He used a horse-drawn buggy to deliver his freshly baked buns, cakes, and breads.

A few years later, Entenmann moved the business to Bay Shore on Long Island. Today, the family still has something in common with racetracks, in particular with Belmont Park. Make that two things. They both are still on the Island, and they both are still involved with horses.

William Entenmann, grandson of the bakery founder, bred this year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, Sarava, in the name of his Timber Bay Farm.

"We live about 20 minutes from Belmont Park, but we didn't go to the Belmont," Entenmann said the day after becoming the breeder of racing's latest classic winner. "I only go to the track when I have a horse running, so we watched it at home with our family. We went absolutely bananas," the 70-year-old breeder said. "He ran a hell of a race. Who would have thought it? We are so thrilled."

Entenmann began breeding horses 20 years ago after he and his brother sold their company. "I made up my mind I was going to breed horses because we were selling the bakery," he said. "I read stories about people leaving business and not having anything to do. I was preparing myself for retirement. I don't golf and my family always loved horses."

What Entenmann called "a bakery" was actually a bit more than that. He and his older brothers, Robert and Charles, found themselves in charge of the family business when their father died of a heart attack in 1951. The three boys returned from the Korean War "and decided we were going to make a go of it," Entenmann said. "We had to expand to support three growing guys," he joked, then added, "with the supermarket explosion, we had to grow with it."

Moving to wholesale delivery, Entenmann's grew rapidly. In 1961, a new modern factory was built. That main plant, which has remained on Long Island, is now 750,000 square feet.

"We went from what was called a Main Street bakery to one of the largest cake bakeries in the world." Entenmann said. Other plants now exist in such places as Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Dallas, as well as in England.

The company sponsors the annual Irish One Thousand (Ire-I) and Two Thousand (Ire-I) Guineas.

The Entenmann brothers took the company public, then in 1978 sold it to Warner-Lambert Co. Four years later, Entenmann's was purchased by General Foods, which subsequently became part of the giant Phillip Morris operation. In 1995, Bestfoods acquired Entenmann's. Bestfoods later merged with Unilever and last July, the Bestfoods baking division was sold to George Weston Ltd., a Canadian-based company specializing in food processing and distribution. The purchase price for the baking unit, which besides Entenmanns owned such well-known brands as Thomas' English Muffins, bagels and waffles and Oroweat, Brownberry, and Arnold breads, was $1.765 billion.

Through all the changes, William Entenmann remained with the company until his retirement four years ago. He and his wife, Christine, owned 110-acre Timber Bay Farm in Westbury on Long Island until 10 years ago. They have two daughters and a son, Billy, who has been training for eight years and has a barn at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland where he has 10 horses owned by his parents. Billy Entenmann is a former steeplechase jockey.

The Entenmanns have raced several top steeplechase horses, among them New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap winners Yaw (1992) and Bisbalense (1997), and Colonial Cup Hurdle Stakes winner Romantic. On the flat, they raced Carpenter's Halo, who won the Riggs Handicap at Pimlico in 2000.

A few years ago, William Entenmann was introduced to Jeffry Morris, who owns Highclere Farm outside Paris, Ky. It was an association that immediately clicked. "We've been very happy with Jeff," he said. "I pick out the mares and he buys them. We plan the matings together."

The Entenmanns have six mares at Highclere and another four at the Pons family's Country Life Farm in Maryland. One other mare, Araadh (by Blushing Groom), was recently sent from Highclere to Dr. Phil McCarthy's Watercress Farm near Paris. McCarthy is a reproductive specialist working with A P Valentine. Araadh, who produced a Diesis filly this year, is being bred to A P Valentine.

The dam of Sarava, the 8-year-old Deputy Minister mare Rhythm of Life, was acquired by Morris for the Entenmanns for $180,000 at the 1998 Keeneland November sale. Consigned by Fred Seitz, agent, she was carrying the Belmont winner.

"I was the underbidder on her first foal, a full brother that sold immediately before her," Morris said. "When she came through, I recommended to Mr. Entenmann that he buy her because her first foal was a quality foal."

It didn't take much arm-twisting to get Entenmann to bid. He has always liked Wild Again. "I've always liked him as a sire," he said. "I bred another mare to him and have since bought another mare that was in foal to him."

Rhythm of Life is a half-sister to Canadian champion and U.S. grade I winner Wilderness Song, who just happens to also be by Wild Again.

The couple primarily race, but "we pick one or two occasionally to sell," Entenmann said. Sarava was consigned by Morris to the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale where he was purchased by Buzz Chace for $190,000. He was one of 19 yearlings at the three-day auction to bring six figures.

Chace bought Sarava for Ernie Paragallo, who pinhooked the colt to the 2001 Fasig-Tipton February juvenile auction. Consigned by Bobby Scanlon, agent, he was purchased for Paul and Susan Roy by Richard Galpin's Newmarket International and trainer Brian Meehan for $250,000.

Rhythm of Life has a 2-year-old Saint Ballado colt named Bahama John in training with Billy Entenmann, who also will receive her yearling filly by Dynaformer. She was barren for this year but is in foal for 2003 to Tactical Cat.

The Entenmanns' other Kentucky-based mares are in foal to or have been bred to Forest Wildcat, Victory Gallop, Belong to Me, and Dynaformer. The Maryland-based mares are bred to Country Life stallions.

The Entenmanns own a share in Belong to Me and Victory Gallop and with Morris, own a breeding right in Dynaformer.

"After the race, someone said we sold the best one we ever bred," Entenmann said. "Well, I'm glad for the horse and glad for the owners. And, I'm glad for ourselves.

"I got out the pedigree last night and looked at it. It's a hell of a pedigree."

Yeah, and it just got a bit better.

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