In the past decade, Jay Em Ess Stable has flaunted many a feather in its cap. But its latest star might boast the brightest plumage of all. On October 4, Jay Em Ess, spearheaded by Samantha Siegel, produced its first homebred grade I winner when two-year-old filly By the Moon captured the Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park.
Of By the Moon’s 2 ¼-length victory under Jose Ortiz, Siegel enthused, “It’s a big, big thrill. Winning the races is fun, but the bigger the race, the bigger the thrill.” She added, “To have raised a grade I winner is extra special.” The Frizette has “Win and You’re In” status, meaning By the Moon has an automatic spot in the starting gate for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). Second in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, By the Moon will ship cross-country for trainer Michelle Nevin for the Juvenile Fillies, which will take place at Santa Anita Park on November 1.
Though Siegel resides in Beverly Hills, Calif., By the Moon is Bluegrass royalty. Siegel purchased the filly’s dam, By the Light, as a yearling, in part because she liked her bloodlines. By the Light is by Malibu Moon , who sired 2004 champion juvenile male Declan's Moon for Jay Em Ess. Once By the Light entered her stable, “because she was a New York-bred, I sent her to New York to run,” Siegel noted. There, By the Light became a state-bred champion and placed in the Prioress Stakes (gr. I).
When bred to the late Indian Charlie, By the Light produced By the Moon in 2012. Mother and daughter resemble one another, Siegel observed. “Her mother is a lot like her…” she said, describing them as “both kind of plain bay and not kind of big.” By the Moon hasn’t been a complicated runner. “She’s just been a straightforward filly, never had an issue,” Siegel said. This kind of success is hard to come by, however. “You never know that you have a grade I winner, but it’s a lovely surprise.”
By the Light is a member of Jay Em Ess’ broodmare band. Siegel boards most of her mares at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Kentucky, though a few older ones reside at Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington. She aims to keep her operation viable, first and foremost. She said, “You know, you have to make it look like a business to the IRS and you can’t keep them all. They multiply like rabbits…But you never know where a good one will come from.” Currently, she has about 40 runners in training, noting that her stable is “not as big as [it] used to be.” After all, “the slow ones cost as much to keep as the fast ones.”
Siegel strives to keep the good ones in her broodmare band. She said, “We try to retire our special fillies who have done well on the racetrack and breed them to not the highest end of the market, but try to get ourselves graded stakes horses that would be very expensive in the auction ring.” Besides By the Light, other Jay Em Ess broodmares include multiple grade I winner Include Me Out, currently in foal to Malibu Moon.
Some of Jay Em Ess’s most distinguished retirees aren’t members of the breeding population. Instead, they are geldings who have found their second winds. Two former stable stars—multiple grade II winner Arson Squad and Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Rail Trip—reside at Old Friends retirement facility in Georgetown, Kentucky.
The aforementioned Declan’s Moon is also kicking up his hooves in his old age. Although he had taken steps to becoming a dressage mount, the grade I winner “decided he didn’t want to go back to work full time,” Siegel said. “He lives a wonderful life in retirement at Country Life [Farm], Maryland.” At that facility, which is also where Malibu Moon began his stud career before moving to Kentucky, Declan’s Moon gets trotted out for special occasions. He also shares a paddock with Perfect Moon, another multiple graded stakes winner by Malibu Moon. “They don’t come around like him every day,” Siegel enthused.
Undoubtedly for Siegel, remembering Declan’s Moon’s electrifying juvenile campaign 10 years ago brings up great hopes for By the Moon. “It was an incredible ride to be on, to have him be a champion,” she said. And who knows? Perhaps By the Moon will follow in his lofty hoof prints. “I’m just excited to have something run in the Breeders’ Cup. It’s been a very slow year for us…we needed it.”
Congratulations to Samantha, TOBA's October member of the month!