A few minutes after King of the Roxy broke his maiden in his second start July 2 at Hollywood Park, Barry Irwin was on the phone speaking with his Team Valor partner, Jeff Siegel. Now they have a contender for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
"I loved the way he made the turn (in his maiden win)," Irwin, who with Siegel has been putting together racing partnerships for 20 years, said recently from his Kentucky office. "I called Jeff and said, "Did you see that?' "
The answer...yes he did.
"Young horses usually flail with their right leg and float out, but he cut the corner like an old pro," Irwin said. "He had good action."
Siegel placed a call to Richard Matlow, who owned and trained the son of Littleexpectations
. Matlow had purchased King of the Roxy on the last day of the 2005 Keeneland September sale for $8,000. Just days after the call from Siegel, a deal was cut transferring ownership of King of the Roxy to Team Valor.
When purchasing a horse like King of the Roxy, pedigree is unimportant, the emphasis being on racetrack ability. "Our whole deal is we are looking for racehorses," Irwin said. "We want the athlete."
And, Team Valor has been very successful, racing such top horses as Irridescence, Star of Cozzene, The Deputy, Captain Bodgit, Prized, Political Ambition, Golden Ballet, and Cashier's Dream.
King of the Roxy, bred in Ohio by Deborah Koptatz, was shipped to trainer Todd Pletcher in New York, one of 20 different trainers currently used by Team Valor. It has 52 horses in training, including just turned 2-year-olds in South Africa. Team Valor partnerships race horses in Germany, France, England, Dubai, and the United States.
King of the Roxy was sent from California to New York, Irwin said, because "we thought he was for sure effective around one turn, and New York has the best races for that."
Not that Irwin doesn't think he can handle two turns. "Well, I would be an idiot if I wasn't concerned about him not having had a two-turn race yet, but he is extremely mature, not mentally, but the way he runs and looks. He's a powerhouse, not a sprinter type. He may not be a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) horse, but I think he can handle two turns."
In his first start for Team Valor and Pletcher, King of the Roxy finished second, beaten less than a length, in the Aug. 17 Saratoga Special Breeders' Cup (gr. II) going 6 1/2 furlongs. He then ran in the seven-furlong Futurity (gr. II) at Belmont Sept. 23 and won by three-quarters of a length.
Now, the horse purchased just four months prior to the Breeders' Cup has his sights set on the big stage.