Clarence Scharbauer Jr. is back at Keeneland and ready to buy. After an 11-year absence from the September yearling sale, the 82-year-old Texan, who owned 1988 Horse of the Year Alysheba, returned Monday, accompanied his Valor Farm's general manager Ken Carson, trainer Bret Calhoun, and the two pilots for his private plane. Early in the afternoon, Scharbauer purchased a $1.4-million Awesome Again filly that is a half-sister to champion Afleet Alex, who scored in the Belmont (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) Stakes.
"I think she's a racehorse; she's outstanding," Scharbauer said. "She was my pick of all the fillies here at the sale. I like the bottom side (of her pedigree) real well. I came here looking for a stud colt, but I wanted a filly, too. That's the most I've ever given for a filly. That's what a stud colt should have brought."
Prior to the start of the auction, Scharbauer said: "I've got two Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trophies in my house, and I'd like to get a third one before I die. I'm looking for the best yearlings here and so far I've seen 10 or 15 that I really like. I plan to stay until Friday, but I think I'm going to get through today or tomorrow, and if I do, I'm going to go home.
Alysheba, who raced in the names of Scharbauer's late wife, Dorothy, and the Scharbauers' daughter, Pam, captured the 1987 Kentucky Derby. Dorothy Scharbauer's father, Fred Turner, raced 1959 Kentucky Derby winner Tomy Lee.
Scharbauer has seven 2-year-olds with Calhoun and six yearlings that are being broken with Texas horseman Ed Dodwell. He also owns Quarter Horses.
"I'll buy two, three, or four yearlings here, however many Ken (Carson) recommends," Scharbauer said.
Scharbauer is experiencing a renewed interest in racing. His enthusiasm for the sport waned following the death of his wife in February of 2005.
"I've always been interested in racing, but when I lost Dorothy, I kind of lost interest in everything," said Scharbauer, who has four grown children and 10 grandchildren. "I've had depression real bad a couple of years, and I'm just getting back on my feet.