Robert Clay at the Preakness

Robert Clay at the Preakness

Anne M. Eberhardt

Whirlwind for Clay Pays Off

Three Chimneys Farm owner signs deal, watches Big Brown win Preakness.

What an 18-hour stretch for Three Chimneys Farm owner Robert Clay.

Clay arrived home from vacation in Peru past midnight Saturday morning, signed a deal to stand the son of Boundary at noon, arrived in Baltimore five hours later, and less than 90 minutes later watched as the colt remained undefeated with a victory in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

"The deal came together very quickly," Clay said. "(My son) Case played a big role. I left on vacation and Case worked out the details."

Clay would not release any financial details, but said he and a group of 10-12 partners purchased a "minority interest" in Big Brown. When the colt will be retired is completely controlled by his owners, IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.

"The racing career is under Michael’s direction," Clay said, referring to Michael Iavarone of IEAH.

Clay said he had watched all of Big Brown’s races and was impressed by his racing ability, conformation, and pedigree.

"The race before the Florida Derby really caught my attention," he said before thinking for a few seconds and adding, "You know, the Florida Derby really caught my attention, too.

"The Derby was so impressive, but it was bittersweet for us," Clay said. In partnership, Clay bred Eight Belles, who was euthanized after breaking both her front ankles while galloping out after the Derby.

Clay said he spoke with Iavarone the Thursday following the Derby and then flew to New York and met with him in person.

"Michael was great to deal with," Case Clay said. "I stayed in touch with my father all week and it was an interesting week."

It was the first big deal Case Clay had worked on since becoming president of his family’s farm following the departure of longtime Three Chimneys’ head Dan Rosenberg.

"It is great to stand a horse of this caliber," the younger Clay said.

Out of the Nureyev mare Mien, Big Brown was bred in Kentucky by Gary Knapp’s Monticule.