Paul Saylor said "I nearly fell out of my chair” while watching the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) on television. Like a lot of people, he was surprised by Mine That Bird’s huge upset. But what really knocked Saylor for a loop was the realization that a juvenile Yonaguska colt he owned suddenly had become a half-brother to a classic winner.
Believing “if you have an opportunity to take money off the table, it’s probably something you should consider doing in this business,” Saylor decided to make Mine That Bird’s sibling a late entry to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training in Timonium, Md. The Yonaguska colt will be offered during the auction’s opening session May 18, which is two days after Mine That Bird is scheduled to run in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at nearby Pimlico. Cary Frommer, as agent, will consign the dark bay or brown juvenile, which will be Hip No. 107 in the sale catalog.
“That’s what makes this game great; you never know what’s going to happen,” Saylor said in a May 7 phone interview. “You can’t predict the bad circumstances, and you sure can’t predict the good ones. I guess we all hang in there because something can jump up and run big and you get an opportunity like this.”
Saylor, through Craig Wheeler, purchased the Yonaguska colt for $100,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales Co. March sale of 2-year-olds in training from Frommer’s consignment.
“I’ve done business with Cary Frommer for a long time, and I’ve also done business with Barry Berkelhammer for a long time,” Saylor said. “Barry had this horse at his AbraCadabra Farms, and I’ve always told Barry that if you find something you like or something you think might turn into a nice racehorse, keep me informed. As it got nearer to the OBS sale, I guess there was some action, but not a whole lot of action, on this colt. Barry said, ‘He’s a really nice horse, and he’s never done anything wrong. I’ve watched him go. Cary is selling him; we don’t know what he’s going to bring. I think this is something you should look at.’ I said, ‘Look Cary and Barry, I’ll be fine on him up to a certain price,’ and I ended up buying him with Craig Wheeler signing the ticket.”
Saylor sent the Yonguska colt back to Berkehammer’s farm for some time off following the OBS auction. The 2-year-old eventually started training again, and as of early May, Saylor was considering choosing a trainer for the colt and sending him to the racetrack within 30 days. Then Mine That Bird won the Derby, and the Yonaguska juvenile turned into a hot commodity.
Frommer phoned Saylor following the Derby and suggested the possibility of selling Mine That Bird’s half-brother in the Midlantic auction. She, Saylor, and Fasig-Tipton worked out the details quickly, and the sale company issued a press release about the addition of the colt to the catalog May 5.
“I don’t want to stress the horse; he’s already been through one 2-year-old sale and that’s enough for most of them, so I doubt seriously he’s going to breeze (at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale,)” Saylor said. “He might ‘two minute lick’ during the under tack show, but we’re not going to push him to do anything he doesn’t want to do or anything that would be harmful. He’s in great shape, and his mind is right. People can look at him and watch him move around a little bit, and if somebody wants to make a deal, I will.”
According to Saylor, “There are three possibilities for what will happen while the horse is at Timonium. He will sell because it’s a price I can’t refuse, or I will be more than willing to stay in him for half or more. There are people who have called me who maybe would rather own a couple of legs than all four. If he doesn’t bring what I think I need for him, then I’ll still own the horse and he’ll be shipped to a trainer.”
Produced from the Smart Strike mare Mining My Own and bred in Kentucky by Peter Lamantia, James Blackburn, and Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds, the Yonaguska colt was sold by Needham-Betz, agent, at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale for $72,000 to Frommer.
“He’s medium-sized and well put together; he has good conformation,” said Saylor of Mine That Bird’s half-brother. “He’s almost black, and he looks better moving than he does standing still, which is a good thing. I think one of the things people were considering at the OBS sale was how hot is Yonaguska? Now that Yonaguska has had a horse (Musket Man) run third in the Derby, I think there might be some more interest in a horse sired by Yonaguska.”
Saylor raced Fleet Indian, the champion older female of 2006, and he was a member of the partnership that campaigned Ashado, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2004 and the champion older female of 2005.