As it shoots for the heights while building from the ground up, Don Alberto Corp. has followed its purchase of the former Vinery farm in Kentucky by making a splash with its purchase of 21 broodmares in three days this month at Kentucky auctions.
"My dream is the Kentucky Derby," said Carlos Heller, the son of the farm's driving force, Bethia Holding chairwoman Liliana Solari.
The farm is a subsidiary of Bethia Holding, which has companies involved in retail, dairy, transportation, communications, and real estate, among other ventures, and also owns a successful Club Universidad de Chile soccer team. Don Alberto Corp. recently purchased the 417-acre former Vinery property, which will be renamed. In the past few days, it purchased a total of 21 mares from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale and the first catalog of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Heller, a president at Bethia and president of Club Hipico de Santiago racetrack, is overseeing the launch of Don Alberto Kentucky. Through Indoamerica S.A.'s Fernando Diaz-Valdes, who served as interpreter, Heller noted that Don Alberto has acted quickly since Heller first saw the Vinery property in September.
"He was impressed with the Vinery property but it needed stallions and broodmares," Diaz-Valdes said.
Don Alberto Corp. has acted quickly to address that void. It finished as the leading first-book buyer by gross at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale with 16 mares purchased for $7,125,000. That followed a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale where Don Alberto purchased five mares for $2,950,000.
The highest-priced mares from that group of 21 were the Galileo mare Reach The Stars, a half sister to champion multiple grade I winner Escena who was purchased for $850,000 at Keeneland; and Malvinia, a 7-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy—Macoumba, by Mr. Prospector, purchased for $800,000 at Fasig-Tipton. Reach The Stars was sold pregnant to Tapit and Malvinia was sold in-foal to Medaglia d'Oro .
Through a translator, Heller said Don Alberto is interested in buying into North America's top bloodlines. They have not set a number on how many mares they will start with in the U.S. but said what they have so far is a good start.
"The mares they have purchased make sense for the American market," Diaz-Valdes said.
The farm also plans to bring broodmares from its farm in Chile, where they have 300 mares, to the U.S. to be bred to central Kentucky stallions. Heller noted that some of the stallions they are interested in do not shuttle to Chile.
Heller said the family will breed Thoroughbreds to race, with an eye toward winning North America's top races. He said they would love to develop a stallion by breeding a colt that wins some top races here.
"The plan is definitely to race," Diaz-Valdes said. "It's a moment (Liliana Solari) will love to see. We would love to participate in the big races here."
Veterinarian Roberto Navarrete will manage Don Alberto Kentucky, which also could add some weanlings. The farm plans to stand stallions in the future and wants to develop its own through success on the track.
Diaz-Valdes said it's been a busy 45 days for Don Alberto, with the purchase of Vinery and the addition of the mares. Heller said there is still much to be done.
"We need to do many plans," Heller said.