Published in the Nov. 2 issue of The Blood-Horse
The Niarchos family and its Flaxman Holdings operation have enjoyed uncanny success in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). Of the 22 starts made under the blue-on-blue Flaxman silks in Breeders' Cup races, 11 have been in the Mile. Four have resulted in victory and three other horses have finished in the top three in the race. This year the operation added a victory and a placing with Domedriver and Good Journey. "The Mile seems to be a race we are fortunate in," said Tim Richardson, who manages the operation's base in France at Haras de Fresney-le-Buffard in Normandy, near Caen. "The most important fact is we have tried to concentrate on top quality pedigreed mares." Those mares number about 40 in France and 40 in the United States at William S. Farish's Lane's End Farm's Oak Tree division. Their pedigree pages are full of black type and their most successful progeny have scored their victories under the same blue silks. The Niarchos family uses its name for most of its horses in Europe, while the Flaxman Holdings name is employed for the North American-based stock, but they are the same entity. Maria Niarchos-Gouaze has taken on the role of principal for the family's bloodstock interests, after the death of her father, Stavros, in 1996. Richardson said Domedriver had been considered for the Mile since his second-place finish to Banks Hill in the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois (Fr-I) in August. But two other Flaxman runners were also eyeing the race--Aldebaran and Good Journey. All three made their way to the post as the largest Flaxman contingent in the Mile at one time. Though the mile comes to mind, Richardson said "all the top races, the classics, the Breeders' Cup races, are high priority, if our horses are good enough. The Mile has been fantastically lucky for us." Flaxman has eight starts in the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT)--they just haven't won yet. Denon finished fifth in this year's running. Beyond Domedriver, Richardson proudly pointed out Sulamani's success this year in the Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby, Fr-I), which is nearly 12 furlongs, and past successes in that race with Dream Well and Hernando, both homebreds. The cross that produced Domedriver brings the speed of his sire, Indian Ridge, and the stamina of his dam, Napoli. It also utilizes the success of the Blushing Groom line, through Napoli, crossed with the Northern Dancer line. "It's an ideal mating," said Richardson. Richardson said breeding decisions for Flaxman are a team effort. He and racing manager Alan Cooper are involved, along with staff at Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard and Oak Tree. Then Niarchos-Gouaze makes the final call. Indian Ridge won at distances between five and seven furlongs, but his progeny have succeeded going a route--he is also the sire of Breeders' Cup Turf winner Ridgewood Pearl. Indian Ridge now stands at the Irish National Stud in County Kildare, Ireland, for 60,000 euros. "He was a tough individual himself and his runners are all very tough," said Sean Coughlan, who raced Indian Ridge. "The older they get the better they get." Napoli is a daughter of Bella Senora. That mare is a full sister to champions El Gran Senor and Try My Best (by Northern Dancer--Sex Appeal, by Buckpasser). Robert Sangster bred Bella Senora, a foal of 1984, in the name of his Swettenham Stud and partners. Around that time Sangster and Stavros Niarchos bred and/or owned a number of horses together. It is through that partnership, or perhaps its dissolution, that Napoli came to Flaxman. Her sire, Baillamont, raced for the partners. Romanaoks Farm bred Baillamont in Kentucky. Lee Eaton consigned him to the 1983 Keeneland July select sale on behalf of Romanoaks where BBA England signed the $725,000 ticket. Baillamont went to France as a yearling and at three and four won three group I races in that country--the Prix Jean Prat Ecurie Fustok, the Prix d'Ispahan, and the Prix Ganay. The last mentioned was run at 10 1/2 furlongs. Baillamont competed in the 1985 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont and finished third, before running unplaced in the 1985 Breeders' Cup Turf. Baillamont entered stud in France, but was later sold to Japan. His daughter, Napoli, might be the only daughter of Baillamont owned by the Flaxman group. Napoli made 12 starts and won four of them for Stavros Niarchos. Her best distances were just over nine furlongs--she won the nine-furlong Prix Casimir Delamarre, the 9 1/2-furlong Grand Prix de la Teste, and the 10-furlong Prix de la Pepiniere. Her first foal, Forest Rain, only raced five times, but she, too, won running beyond a mile. Napoli and Forest Rain are at Haras de Fresney-le-Buffard. Napoli produced a Machiavellian colt this year and is being rested. Forest Rain produced her first foal, a filly by Selkirk. Napoli's 2000 Hector Protector filly, Nutrina, is in training with Dominque Sepulchre. Her 3-year-old colt Tau Ceti, by Flaxman homebred Hernando, won the Prix du Prince d'Orange (Fr-III) for trainer John Hammond, who also conditioned Napoli.