One day before his filly Age of Humor would contend the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), and two days before his colt Mission Impazible was slated to run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Randy Gullatt of Twin Creeks stood by trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn grinning from ear to ear. While watching his Derby hopeful being sponged down for a mid-morning bath, Gullatt reflected on the unusual and spectacular situation he was in.
“Oh man, I’m in such awe right now that it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Gullatt, who campaigns Age of Humor in partnership with Bluegrass Equine Center and Sky Chai Stable.
While Twin Creeks Farm, which co-owns Age of Humor, is a Versailles, Ky.-based operation owned by Steve Davison and managed by Gullatt, Twin Creeks Racing Stables is a group of investors that Davison and Gullat put together every year.
“There is a different group of investors in almost every horse,” Gullatt explained. “We have 10 guys in the Mission Impazible group. Age of Humor is a different group of owners entirely. The only people that are on (both) Mission Impazible and Age of Humor are myself and Steve Davidson.”
Gullatt, a native of Ruston, La., and Davidson have been partners in the Thoroughbred business for more than two decades. They initially hooked up after Gullatt finished high school and took out his trainer’s license. “(Davidson) was my main owner, and we’ve done the business together ever since,” said Gullatt, who claimed their first horse, a gray filly named La Vivat, for $5,000 in 1987.
“She won a bunch of races for us, and that kick-started the whole thing,” said Gullatt. “We started from the bottom and worked out way up.”
One of the best horses Gullatt and Davison campaigned during that era was Joey Jr., a three-time stakes winner who set a world dirt record at Hawthorne Park when he covered 7 ½ furlongs in 1:27 1/5 in 1989. Gullatt also at one time trained a multiple stakes-winning gelding named Missouri Ace, as well as Mission Impazible’s dam La Paz, a three-time stakes winner.
After retiring La Paz from racing to become a broodmare, Twin Creeks raised a few of her foals, including Spanish Empire (by Pleasant Colony), a grade III winner at Oaklawn Park in 2004. Gullatt and Davison sold La Paz for $1.6 million while in foal to Storm Cat to Summer Wind Farm at the 2000 Keeneland November mixed sale. The partners bought Mission Impazible (by Unbridled's Song) for $200,000 from Summer Wind based on his looks and their prior connection with his dam at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.
They paid even more for Age of Humor, going to $350,000 for the filly at this year’s Keeneland January mixed sale.
“We just saw a quality filly with a great pedigree and very good value,” said Gullatt of the daughter of Distorted Humor —Age of Silver, by Silver Deputy, who was bred in Kentucky by R. L. Reineman Stable.
Age of Humor will enter the Oaks with a record of 2-2-1 from five starts and earnings of $110,200. She most recently finished second in the March 27 Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) at Turfway Park, before which she was third to other Oaks contender Jody Slew in the Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds.
“(Trainer) Mike Maker came up with the idea of running her in the Oaks, and it’s ballooned amazingly in the last 30 to 60 days,” said Gullatt. “She’s grown, matured, and gotten more focused, and it’s amazing. I never dreamed she was going to get this good this fast.”
While the Oaks field has no standout horse to the caliber of last year’s powerhouse winner Rachel Alexandra, the field is still solid and figures to be Age of Humor’s toughest challenge yet. But Gullatt is convinced she’s ready for the task.
“My trainer is very confident,” he said. “She schooled in the paddock yesterday, and she was absolutely perfect, and she’s just moving terrific out here. She’s doing so well that he felt like we definitely need to take a shot.”