When Bob Hutt formed Fantasy Lane Stable in honor of his late father he never thought it would result in four stakes performers in four consecutive years.
But the fantasy that was in his mind when he created the partnership has now become a reality, as his latest stable star Uptowncharlybrown is more than just a stakes winner—he’s a viable Triple Crown contender.
Hutt explained how his father had been an avid $2 bettor and would frequent the tracks on the South Florida circuit in the mid 1980s. Also a huge fan and supporter of Hutt’s previous CalHutt Stable, he never missed a race in which one of his son’s horses was entered.
When Hutt’s father passed away in 1998, trainer Alan Seewald, who now conditions Uptowncharlybrown, suggested that Hutt form a new stable in his memory.
Undoubtedly one of the most rewarding aspects about Fantasy Lane Stable is that Hutt has many others that are invested and therefore sharing in his excitement of Uptowncharlybrown’s success.
Hutt, who described the partnership group as “a labor of love,” said FLS sends out daily emails to its investors complete with pictures and YouTube videos of their horses.
“What I never anticipated when I started this, and the biggest blessing for me, is the friendships that have developed over the years,” said Hutt. “We win as a team, and we lose as a team. But we have a lot of fun.”
In addition to Uptowncharlybrown, who decisively broke his maiden in December, won the Pasco Stakes Jan. 16 at Tampa Bay Downs, and finished third in the Feb. 13 Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. II), FLS has also had recent success with stakes-placed runners Justawalkinthepark and Cobra Strike, and 2008 Monmouth Park NATC Futurity winner R Betty Graybull.
While FLS started out claiming horses off the track, they now buy modestly priced unraced 2-year-olds. The group acquired Uptowncharlybrown, a son of Limehouse who was a $25,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, for $57,000 at the 2009 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April 2-year-old sale from Norman Casse’s Casse Sales, agent.
“When we bought Uptowncharlybrown, nobody hyped him up or said anything to us,” said Hutt. “We just liked the way he moved, with the beautiful long stride that he shows now. We look for the athlete with the least conformation flaws. Pedigree is last, because we can’t afford expensive racehorses. That’s been the secret to our success.”
Hutt explained how at the same sale, FLS also bought a filly they later named Joyce's Angel, after a little girl from Holland who succumbed to cancer last year. The girl was the daughter of a close friend of one of the FLS partners, said Hutt, who always lets his investors have input in the horses’ names.
Before Joyce’s untimely death last November, the FLS partners arranged for the girl and her family to travel to the United States, meet Joyce’s Angel, and also see superstar Rachel Alexandra defeat the boys in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
“This little girl touched all of us…we thought we were doing her the favor, but it was the other way around,” said Hutt. “The partners just fell in love with her.”
Ironically, after Joyce died, Joyce’s Angel, a now 3-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex , began to excel beyond expectations in her training, posting multiple bullet workouts. “We got reports (from her trainers) that they didn’t know what had gotten into this horse, but she’s training as good as any horse we’ve ever had,” said Hutt. “She went down to Tampa, and (trainer) Alan Seewald will tell you that he doesn’t know which one is the better horse—Uptowncharlybrown or Joyce’s Angel.”
An added coincidence is that Joyce’s Angel and Uptowncharlybrown also share the same birthday—Feb. 6. Joyce’s Angel is expected to make her career debut in the seventh race at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 27.
Hutt described “Charly” as a “big, gangly colt” when he was younger, adding that horse still ran a bit green in the Sam F. Davis. But judging how he finished the race with such fervor, Hutt thinks Charly will do nothing but improve in his next outing—the March 13 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III).
“He’s still learning, but he’s got a humongous stride that’s very fluid, long, and nice,” said Hutt. “That’s what attracted us to him. He hasn’t shown us any distance limitations. As a matter of fact, his best race might have been his last race. Although green, he showed us without a doubt that he’ll go two turns, and we think as the season goes on he’ll get better and better.”
FLS, which has a total of 59 investors in Charly, some with shares as small as $875, brings more than 150 supporters to the horse’s races, and even more are expected for the Tampa Bay Derby. Hutt said about 80% of the FLS partners are from the Northeast states of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, and the other 20% are from all over the country. Their professions range from elementary school teachers to sales managers.
“The outpouring of love for this horse…from people that we don’t even know has been so nice and so unexpected,” said Hutt. “He’s a people’s horse. We don’t know how long it’s going to last, but it’s the thrill ride of a lifetime, and my wish for everybody is that someday they get a chance to experience what we’ve gone through since the day after Christmas when we opened up (the talents) of Uptowncharlybrown.”
To read regular updates on the progress of Uptowncharlybrown, visit http://uptowncharlybrown.blogspot.com/.