Published in the May 12 issue of The Blood-Horse
No one likes to use the word "cull" when talking about broodmares. But everyone does it. In fact, if you don't, you never improve your stock.
When he "retired" to Kentucky and decided to become a horse breeder 10 years ago, Jim Squires went out looking for "culled mares." They weren't hard to find. But who would have thought they included the dam of a future Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner?
"At that time, many big outfits were culling some mares," Squires said, citing Monarchos' dam, Regal Band (by Dixieland Band), as a good example. "She was a very sound mare. She has the bloodlines I couldn't afford."
Squires was referring to the fact Regal Band is from a Darby Dan Farm family. Her dam is by Roberto and her second dam is a daughter of Graustark.
Consigned by Darby Dan to the 1995 Keeneland January sale, Squires bid $14,000 for Regal Band, who was not in foal. She was listed as an RNA because the reserve was $15,000. Squires followed the mare back to the barn and purchased her privately for $13,000.
After breeding Regal Band to Secret Hello and Black Tie Affair, he selected Maria's Mon for the 1997 breeding season. How did he decide on that mating?
At the 1994 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, Squires saw what he thought was the grandest-looking yearling he had ever seen. Purchased for $200,000 (and kicked back after selling for $1.4 million as a 2-year-old), the colt was named Unbridled's Song and won the following year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He was beaten in the Champagne (gr. I) by Maria's Mon.
"That was a great class," Squires said of the colts foaled in 1993. "Unbridled's Song, Hennessy, Honour and Glory... Maria's Mon was a very fast 2-year-old. He was the champion. He beat all those horses."
Priced at $7,500 at Josephine Abercrombie's Pin Oak Stud near Versailles, Ky. -- just a short van ride from Jim and Mary Anne Squires' Two Bucks Farm -- Maria's Mon, Squires said, "looked like a real athlete."
Monarchos looks a lot like his sire, which is why Squires tried to sell the colt privately to Abercrombie. She, however, preferred to have him offered at the Saratoga yearling sale as previously planned, figuring the auction ring would help establish a good market value for a sire's first crop.
Pinhooker Murray Smith, in town for Keeneland's April juvenile sale, saw Monarchos at Two Bucks and purchased him for $100,000. She agreed to Squires' suggestion that the colt sell at Saratoga with Fred Seitz' consignment. At Saratoga, Monarchos never got a live bid, according to Smith.
Smith consigned Monarchos to the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Calder sale of 2-year-olds in training and John Oxley purchased him for $170,000.
The day after Monarchos won the Florida Derby (gr. I), Regal Band foaled a filly by Siphon. She was bred back to Maria's Mon in mid-April and did not get in foal. She was covered by him again just six hours before Monarchos won the Derby.
Because he said "my end of the market has gone to hell," Squires recently sold four of his mares. He and his wife currently own 10 mares and one other in partnership.
Squires is a former editor of the Chicago Tribune and has also authored three books. He covered one of the greatest stories of our time -- Watergate. Squires also served as the press spokesperson for Ross Perot's 1992 presidential campaign.
"The newspaper business was my life," Squires said. "I'm a news addict. It's such an exciting business.
"The Thoroughbred business is very exciting, too."
Especially when you buy a $13,000 mare, pay a $7,500 stud fee, and breed a Kentucky Derby winner.