Oussama Aboughazale stood in the Keeneland sales pavilion Jan. 10 and began by stating the obvious.
The mare he just went to $575,000 to attain, a daughter of Mineshaft named Joyfully, was the kind that stood out for all the right reasons in the January catalog. In an auction where quality can be hard to come by, she had physical presence and pedigree in spades—as well as the added tick of being in foal to a certain Triple Crown winner.
"I just bought my farm here and we have to stock it up with nice mares," Aboughazale said. "We don't want to start half lame."
What has also been blatant during the first two days of the Keeneland January auction is how serious Aboughazale is about taking his love affair with Kentucky to another level. Under the name of his International Equities Holding, Aboughazale has been diligently shopping for mares to support his new Paris, KY-based operation, buying 11 lots for a total of $2,251,000—including Joyfully, who topped Tuesday's activity with a bid of $575,000—to lead all buyers during the opening sessions.
Aboughazale's presence in both the commercial landscape and the racing scene is nothing new. His Chilean-based Haras Sumaya bred and campaigned grade 1 winner Wild Spirit and he most recently retired his homebred multiple graded stakes winner Protonico to stand his first season at Taylor Made Farm.
A longtime client of the Seitz family's Brookdale Farm, the affable Aboughazale recently put down roots in the Bluegrass, purchasing the former Belvedere Farm near Paris with plans on refurbishing the grounds and establishing a broodmare band he hopes will maintain his longstanding hallmark of quality.
"I love horses, I love Kentucky. It's so beautiful here," Aboughazale said between purchases Tuesday. "Even now in the winter, it's beautiful. I fell in love with it 20 years ago. I fell in love with Kentucky, really that is why I'm here."
With bloodstock manager Frances Relihan and farm manager Jody Alexander lending their astute observations, Aboughazale is taking a quality over quantity approach to his bloodstock purchases. Both Joyfully and Delightful Joy, who International Equities Holding purchased for $700,000 on Monday, are slated to go to Claiborne stallion War Front —whom Aboughazale owns a share in.
Supporting Protonico is the main objective, however, as Aboughazale estimates sending between 10-15 of his mares to the son of Giant's Causeway . Whether the offspring end up going through the sale ring or carrying Aboughazale's colors is still to be determined.
"It depends on the situation," he said. "Maybe Jody will tell me 'Keep this one,' because Jody will see them since they are born until they are 2. We'll see how things shape up."
One thing Aboughazale is steadfast about is that having his own Kentucky-based operation in no way means his longstanding relationship with Brookdale Farm is about to end.
Aboughazale's mare Kakadu, a half sister to Protonico, resides at Brookdale and had the distinction of foaling the first reported foal by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah on Jan. 3. Once his new farm gets its makeover and is at capacity, Aboughazale says the Seitz crew can still expect to handle members of his equine family.
"They are fantastic, they are my friends. Fred (Seitz) and Fred Jr.," he said. "They are honest and we'll always work together."