Calumet Farm, so much a part of the top-tiered landscape of Kentucky breeding and racing for decades, returned to the spotlight in a big way when 3-year-old Switch won the $150,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) opening day Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. The victory was the biggest win for a Calumet-bred since 2008, when Ariege won the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) and the $250,000 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II).
Calumet, owned by members of the Wright family for several decades, was operated by Henryk de Kwiatkowski from 1992 up to the time of his death in the spring of 2003. The Lexington farm now is owned by a trust, and de Kwiatkowski’s family is the beneficiary. De Kwiatkowski left four daughters and two sons.
Calumet is home to about 60 broodmares, half of which are owned by outside clients. “There was a time when we had 100 mares--half ours and half for clients--but that was before the economic downturn,” said Calumet manager Bill Witman. “Because we’re a trust, every yearling of ours goes to public auction. If they don’t meet the reserve price, they come home and we break and train them. We then try to sell them, and if they don’t sell, we try to race them. We’re very much a commercial breeding operation, but that might change in two or three years.”
Switch, who was bought from Calumet for $150,000 by Third Street Stable at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale, has earned $632,600 for Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable. The daughter of Quiet American has won two other stakes in 2010, including the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) over leading 3-year-old filly Blind Luck. Switch has placed in five 2010 stakes, all graded, including the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I).
Switch and Ariege aren’t the only major winners representing Calumet the last several years. Librettist, bred by the historic nursery, was France’s champion older male miler in 2006. By unbeaten Danzig, who raced for de Kwiatkowski before the latter bought Calumet, Librettist won three group stakes his championship season, including the Prix du Haras de Fresnay le Buffard-Jacques le Marois (Fr-I) and the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Fr-I).
Calumet has consigned Switch’s dam, Antoniette (by Nicholas), to the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. Antoniette is scheduled to sell in foal to Roman Ruler the first day of the sale. Calumet plans to sell Switch’s half sister by Pleasantly Perfect at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale.