2016 has been an award-worthy year for owner-breeder Jerome “Jerry” Amerman and her husband, John. This year, they bred two full siblings, Oscar Nominated and Oscar Performance (Kitten's Joy – Devine Actress, by Theatrical), both of whom have captured graded stakes. “It’s wonderful to have two good ones,” Jerry said.
Three-year-old Oscar Nominated burst onto the Derby trail for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey by winning the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park in early April. Despite an off-the-board finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Oscar Nominated eventually rebounded, with a 6 ¼-length romp in the Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs on September 11.
Racing in Jerry’s name, homebred Oscar Performance won a thrilling renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita, after earlier annexing the Pilgrim Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park in October. “I obviously am very pleased, but we have to give credit where credit is due—his mama and his daddy and his trainer,” Jerry commented. She enlists the help of bloodstock agent Headley Bell to recommend sires for her broodmares. “But Headley looks at it from a pedigree perspective and I look at what the stallion did as a racehorse, what he’s throwing,” she said.
The Amermans own about 11 mares, boarded at Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, Ky., owned by Bell’s mother, Alice Chandler, and her husband, Dr. John Chandler. Currently, Devine Actress is not in foal, but will probably visit Claiborne Farm’s Flatter in 2017. But you probably won’t see her foals in a sale anytime soon. “If I keep my ‘children,’ so to speak,” Jerry said, “I can be sure of what’s going to happen to them. And that’s the most important thing to me.” She added, “I like to be sure that, if they can’t race, they’re going somewhere where they’ll be cared for.”
The Amermans still own multiple grade I winner Balance, a half-sister to Zenyatta. Jerry recalled, “We looked at Zenyatta as a yearling too and we had no problem, but at that point we had no idea Balance was going to be as good as she was because she hadn’t run [yet].” The Amermans purchased Balance at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2004 for $260,000. Six years later, the Amermans sold her colt by A.P. Indy (later named Mr. Besilu) at Keeneland September for $4.2 million.
Another Amerman-owned stunner was Adoration, who won the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) as a 40-1 shot. According to Jerry, “In fact, I think we’ve watched the replay of that race so many times that we can almost repeat verbatim the call of the race. It was because we really went into it just hoping to get a piece of it, and then when she [won], I couldn’t believe it. I think I was beating on John and screaming. But to have her win and the way she did, oh my gosh.” The Amermans sold Adoration, in foal to Smart Strike, for $3.1 million to Coolmore at Keeneland November in 2007.
Since Jerry and John, a former executive at Mattel, founded their stable in 1995, they’ve owned standout grade I winners LidoPalace, Spoken Fur, Coffee Clique, and Siphonic. This year, their Tapit colt A Lot set a course record in the Elusive Quality Stakes and later ran second in the Fourstardave (gr. IT) at Saratoga. He’s scheduled to run next in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) on November 5 at Santa Anita. And their three-year-old filly Baciami Piccola, bred in Great Britain, annexed the Florida Oaks (gr. IIIT) in March.
But the welfare of her horses is most important to Jerry, who boards some rehabbing and retired horses at her Peacefield Farm in Temecula, California. Jerry has served on the board for the Center for Equine Health at the University of California, Davis, and John has been worked with multiple equine organizations, including TOBA, where he served on the American Graded Stakes Committee for seven years. Last year, John and Jerry joined WHOA (the Water Hay Oats Alliance) to support federal regulation of medication in horse racing.
Jerry noted, “I just kind of feel like, if you’ve got a horse that you brought into the world because you planned it [the mating], you’ve got an obligation to take care of it, no matter what happens to it. You try to find a good home, and that’s why I think that Thoroughbred aftercare is important for me.” In particular, the tragic passing of Amerman-owned grade I winner Siphonic in 2002 “changed my whole outlook on racing,” she said. “Get them back safe, that’s all I worry about. Winning is nice; being safe is better.”