Over the last six months, the name of Fred W. Hertrich III has become synonymous with the Breeders' Cup. In September 2017, the Delaware-based horseman was elected to the chairmanship of the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors. On November 3, undefeated Rushing Fall, bred in Kentucky by Hertrich and John Fielding, captured the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) at Del Mar.
President of the Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships, Hertrich entered the equine industry through Standardbreds. He formed a now-defunct Thoroughbred partnership with Ben Walden Jr., as well as late horsemen Dr. Phil McCarthy and Lou Guida, then purchased Watercress Farm near Georgetown, Kentucky. Ever since, he has focused on Thoroughbreds. Alone or in partnership, Hertrich has bred grade/group 1 winners Boys at Tosconova, Street Boss, and Shamardal, among other stakes winners.
Rushing Fall, however, is one of his best. "Every report that we ever got was how special this filly really was, so it was great. It's a wonderful group of people, a wonderful team that Bob Edwards has put together," Hertrich said. He added, "So it was just kind of a crescendo coming together, including my election as the Breeders' Cup chairman, that this all occurred in Del Mar, so it was kind of a neat result to all our efforts for all these years. But it is truly not only about the animals, but about the people. There's just so many great people in the industry and in the business."
Owned by Bob and Kristine Edwards's e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, Rushing Fall entered the Breeders' Cup off a triumph in the Oct. 11 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland. "I had watched every one of her races and, of course, that culminated in her winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf," said Hertrich.
The daughter of More Than Ready is as kind as she is talented. He recalled, "Rushing Fall was just one of those babies that every mother would have been proud of her and every family would have been goo-goo over from the day she was born[...]" and added, "She's just about as laid-back and is perfect. You can't ask for anything more. She's almost like a puppy dog, coming up and just wanting to scratch her ears a little bit."
On his Watercress Farm, now spanning 600 acres, Hertrich's broodmare band numbers more than 100, none of which are boarders. He and Fielding co-own 70% of those mares together, while Hertrich owns the remaining 30% himself. This spring, he expects 70 foals. Rushing Fall's dam, the Forestry mare Autumnal, is not pregnant for 2018 - she foaled late in 2017 - but is booked to Medaglia d'Oro for 2019.
Trial and error informs Hertrich's breeding philosophy, he said: "You get some special mares that make very, very, very good babies, no matter what stallions you breed them to, and as a mare has foals, we analyze the mare's progeny and foals and keep trying or attempting to bring stallions to that mare that we have learned from the previous foals what is good and what is bad," adding that, "you keep fine-tuning your decision-making process."
Hertrich also owns the Bernardini mare Song of Bernadette, dam of 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) contender Catholic Boy. Dam of a Carpe Diem yearling and a Super Saver two-year-old, Song of Bernadette is in foal to Exaggerator and will visit War Front for 2019.
Bred in Kentucky by Hertrich and Fielding, three-year-old Catholic Boy (by More Than Ready) races for Robert LaPenta and Madaket Stables. Last August, he Boy won the With Anticipation (G3T) before finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T). Switching to the dirt, he rounded out his two-year-old season with a score in the December 2 Remsen Stakes (G2). Catholic Boy placed in the February 10 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Hertrich is thrilled at Catholic Boy's Derby prospects. "It's terrific and, because the connections are so great and it's such a great horse, you hope he gets there sound, and in a 20-horse field, you hopes he gets an opportunity to run," he said. A minority owner in past Derby prospects Exaggerator and Daredevil, Hertrich admitted, "You know the disappointment if, by chance, you know, something does occur, because of course there are one hundred people that have Derby fever on the Derby trail."
Journeys to big races are of tremendous importance. Hertrich said, "We derive as much pleasure from all the people we've met, that we've sold horses to, and participated with them when they have a successful horse or, for that matter, even a non-successful horse, because we cry as much as we laugh[...]there's disappointment and elation. There's just a great group of people that I've had the opportunity to meet..."