Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner and Triple Crown nominee Bodemeister was foaled and raised at Audley Farm near Berryville, Va. The 2,500-acre nursery is where Sir Barton, who became the first Triple Crown winner in 1919, once stood at stud, and there is a statue of the great horse on the property.
Audley is owned by the family of the late German breeder Hubertus Liebrecht, who acquired the farm in 1978. The nursery’s previous owners and residents included members of George Washington’s family.
“We have huge pastures, wonderful water, and great grass here; it’s a wonderful place to raise a horse,” said Audley’s horse manager, Jamie McDiarmid. “We have so much space that people call us the Claiborne Farm of Virginia. Bodemeister was out in probably a 120-acre pasture with five or six other colts when he was a yearling.”
Bodemeister is by Empire Maker and out of the grade III-winning Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent. Audley bought the 3-year-old bay colt’s dam for $1.2 million from Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, at the 2007 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. At the time, she was in foal to Unbridled's Song, who is Empire Maker’s sire, Unbridled.
The mating that produced Bodemeister was chosen because “we loved the Unbridled/Storm Cat cross,” said McDiarmid, who works closely with Audley consultant Dr. Jens von Lepel. “Empire Maker is such a solid, good-looking horse that we really thought he would actually help the mare with her being a Storm Cat and a little light of bone. She foaled late that year (April 6, 2008), and we took a chance with her.”
Bodemeister turned out to be “a beauty,” according to McDiarmid. “He wasn’t the biggest foal in the world, but he was always an extremely well-balanced horse,” Audley’s horse manager continued. “He was the type of horse -- to be honest with you -- that you never really knew was here. He was very quiet, very cool, and very calm in the stall. You have some yearlings that are just a pain all summer, but he took everything in stride. He had a very good mind on him.”
In 2010, Brookdale Sales, as agent for Audley, consigned Bodemeister to the Keeneland September yearling auction. Zayat Stables purchased him for $260,000.
Because of the lingering effects of a severe American recession, “it was a terrible year to sell yearlings,” McDiarmid said. “But we had a very good crop of yearlings and had one of the best sales we had ever had. He (Bodemeister) was well-received. We had enough action on him to know we could set our reserve as we wanted and put him on the market. Based on the market and the fact that people were still a little bit ‘should we or shouldn’t we?’ about Empire Maker, we were very pleased with his price.”
Untouched Talent produced a Tiznow filly earlier this year and she is in foal to Unbridled’s Song.
“She foaled about 10 days early in the paddock in January and she gave us a hell of a fright,” McDiarmid said. “Our nightwatchman of 25 years happened to drive past her paddock and see two front legs sticking out. He said, ‘We have a foal arriving at the mare barn; you had better get there quick,’ so we did. We left her outside with three other mares and they literally almost circled around her while we got down and foaled the mare in the paddock.”
Bodemeister, who didn’t begin competing until this year, has won two of his four career races and finished second twice for Zayat Stables while earning $704,800. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, the colt was the runner-up to Creative Cause in the March 10 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II).