Despite being in Baltimore, the man who recommended selling I'll Have Another won’t be at Pimlico Race Course to watch the colt try to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Bloodstock agent and adviser Steve Shahinian will instead watch the May 19 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) from either the pavilion at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale grounds or a nearby sports bar. The self-professed “hermit” is too busy anyway, shopping for racehorses at the upcoming sale of 2-year-olds in training May 21-22.
I’ll Have Another won the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) for Paul Reddam. Bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill bought the son of Flower Alley for $35,000 out of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April sale after Victor Davila bought I’ll Have Another for $11,000 during the waning days of the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale.
I’ll Have Another, bred by New Jersey resident Harvey Clarke, was “weak behind” and didn’t figure to become the kind of horse they needed him to be so Shahinian recommended Clarke sell the colt.
“I’m still getting some ribbing from my friends and other agents for my recommendation to sell,” Shahinian said from the sale grounds. “But I’ve gone back through it in my mind and I think I would have come up with the same decision to sell him as a yearling.”
Clarke and Shahinian have known each other for 30 years. They met when Clarke’s daughter was taking riding lessons at a stable managed by Shahinian in New Jersey in the mid-1970s.
Shahinian was in the show-horse game in New Jersey. When the Meadowlands track was built, Shahinian “got teased into the racehorse game. I thought, ‘How hard could it be?’”
He found out it was plenty hard. After training horses for several years that were “typical mediocre,” he left to practice law for seven years. He later returned to show horses, helping develop El Campeon Farms for Lou Gonda in Hidden Valley, Calif.
Wanting to return to the Thoroughbred game, he worked for Dr. David Lambert.
“I had the opportunity to go to every major sale and see a lot of horses and learn what a good horse looks like,” he said.
After seven years he struck out on his own as a bloodstock agent and reached out to Clarke. They bought three horses in 2009, one of them being 2011 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) winner and Kentucky Derby runner Soldat. Clarke owns Soldat with partners Craig Robertson and Namcook Stables.
“Steve picks out the horses for me,” Clarke said. “I get down to the sales in September and he works like a dog. He looks at a million horses and I like wander around with him. He’s got a much better eye than I do.”
Shahinian's eye gets a workout, especially during this year’s Midlantic sale. With 500-some horses in the breeze shows, Shahinian said he’ll look at about 100.
“I’ll watch video of 60 of them a day and then look at 20 each back at the barn,” he said. “I’ll look at them a few times and then go back and study their stride lengths and do heart scans. If I find one good two-turn colt, I’ll be happy.”
One happy purchase for Shahinian has been Jane of All Trades, a half sister to Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) morning line favorite Mamma Kimbo by Rock Hard Ten he picked up for Namcook Stables for $160,000 out of last year’s September sale.
“The filly is doing great; everyone around the barn likes her,” he said. “I was proud of her the day I bought her. She’s big, good-looking, fast, and has a good brain.”
Shahinian also selected Arch’s Gal Edith, the dam of I’ll Have Another, for Clarke in 2004. The daughter of Arch fractured a hock when she was in training at 2 and didn’t make the races until late in her 3-year-old year. After an impressive wire-to-wire win, she got an ankle chip. The surgery didn’t go well and she was retired.
Arch’s Gal Edith, who resides at the Seitz family’s Brookdale Farm near Versailles, Ky., has just been pronounced in foal to Gio Ponti for 2013.
Will Clarke have “Another” top colt? He and Shahinian certainly hope so.
As for I’ll Have Another’s Derby win and run-up to the Preakness, Shahinian said: “It was a great Derby. I’m not buying into the pundits that say Bodemeister was the best horse or not. We’ll find out tomorrow.”