Havre de Grace is on the market, according to her owner.
Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms said in a telephone interview the afternoon of April 23 he would entertain private offers for his 2011 Horse of the Year. If a deal can’t be struck to sell Havre de Grace privately, he plans to send her to either this year’s Keeneland November breeding stock sale or the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November select auction.
"I've had a couple people call me already," Porter revealed.
Earlier in the day Porter announced that Havre de Grace had been retired from racing after being examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington. She has an injured ligament in her right front ankle.
The 5-year-old bay daughter of Saint Liam had worked five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 at Churchill Downs April 22.
"I have a good ballpark figure (in mind) of what she's worth," Porter said. "We'll have to see if someone wants to buy her before she goes through a sale so that they don't have to go through a bidding war. If two of us can get together, we will; if we don't, she’ll go through a sale."
Porter declined to reveal the price he would accept for the bay mare privately.
Selling Havre de Grace, according to Porter, is part of a long-range, established Fox Hill business plan.
"There are three or four parts to my plan," Porter said. "One is that I spend about the same amount of money every year on yearlings and 2-year-olds in training. Then I split them among a few trainers. At the end of their careers, if I'm fortunate enough to get one that has significant residual value as a stallion or a broodmare, I sell it as a way of recovering the capital I spend every year at the sales.
"I'm not really in the breeding business. I have a couple of broodmares that happened to be special to me so I kept them. One was (grade II winner) Rockport Harbor's full sister Song of Solomon, and the other was an Unbridled filly out of Chimichurri (Christina's World)."
Letting go of Havre de Grace "will be hard, but it's something that I have to do," Porter said. "I've got to stick to my plan because I'm trying to stay in the black in this business, which is very difficult to do. If you don't get the money back that you write the checks for every year to Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton, and maybe (the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.), you can't win.
"I am not willing to invest a lot of money in racehorses every year and have a big investment in a quality broodmare band. It's tough to do both; it's too tough for me. Some people can do it, but I just don't have enough money to make that type of investment."
Tom McGreevy purchased Havre de Grace for Porter for $380,000 from Mill Ridge Sales, agent, at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling auction. She won nine of her 16 career races and earned $2,586,175 while being trained by Larry Jones. In addition to being recognized as Horse of the Year, she was honored as 2011's champion older female.
"It was something special to be fortunate enough to have a horse like Havre de Grace," Porter said. "She gave me an awful lot of thrills and I was looking forward to more this year. But it's a tough game and a tough sport. Every time I feel down in the dumps today I just make myself think about how there are a lot of people with a lot bigger problems than retiring a great horse. That's how I get my head back on straight."
Porter described Havre de Grace's injury as "terribly unexpected. We worked her (April 22) and Larry (Jones) said she worked great. She had a little bit of swelling and some heat. I thought the worst had happened when Larry told me this morning (prior to her examination at Rood & Riddle) that maybe we would have to give her a few months off.
"I haven’t spoken with Dr. Bramlage yet. He was nice enough to fit her in between surgeries (April 23). He's going to call me after his last surgery, and I'll get a chance to talk to him then."
Nancy Dillman bred Havre de Grace in Kentucky. The mare is out of Easter Bunnette (by Carson City).