Is breeding a Breeders' Cup horse as easy as throwing a dart at a dartboard? It is if you're breeders Bob Austin and John Witte.
It was one of the angles he came up with in the mating process of Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) contender Cocked and Loaded.
Richard Ravin and Patricia's Hope's Cocked and Loaded comes to Keeneland for the $2 million Juvenile off a strong win Sept. 12 in Churchill Downs' Iroquois Stakes (gr. II). The son of Colonel John—Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon , also won the 5 1/2-furlong Tremont Stakes earlier this summer at Belmont Park.
Austin, who along with his wife, Alice, have since sold their farm in Woodford County and moved to Florida, went to a party at Darby Dan Farm in the fall of 2012. The invitation was in the form of box that contained a dart. Once at the party, he threw the dart at a board that contained the names of the Darby Dan stallion, and hit Tale of Ekati .
There was just one problem. He didn't have a mare to breed.
The Austins shopped the 2013 Keeneland January sale and purchased Catch the Moon, in foal to Colonel John, for $30,000 from Paramount Sales. The resulting foal? Cocked and Loaded.
"He's a nice colt, but he wasn't a great big, strapping colt," Austin said of Cocked and Loaded as a youngster. "He was a little off in the front. We took him to the sale. I wasn't expecting a lot of money and Colonel John had cooled a by then. We got $16,000 for him."
Sold by Legacy Bloodstock, agent, Blue Checker Thoroughbreds and David Purcell bought the colt on day nine of last year's 13-day Keeneland September yearling sale.
Cocked and Loaded made his first start for Blue Checker and trainer John Hancock, winning a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race at Keeneland and setting a track record over the new dirt surface in :51.64. He changed hands to trainer Larry Rivelli after that effort.
The Austins have moved to The Villages, Fla., and love it. They sold the farm to Dan Davidson, who moved to Kentucky from North Carolina and now boards Catch the Moon. Davidson, building a broodmare boarding business, owns two mares and has a Temple City weanling in the Book 2 of Keeneland's November sale.
Catch the Moon's family has gotten a little warmer. The Tale of Ekati foal—a colt—sold for $130,000 last week at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale and she's in foal to Shanghai Bobby .
And retirement certainly suits the Austins. They also bred Zayat Stables' King Kranz, runner-up in Belmont Futurity Stakes (gr. II) Oct. 17.