James Weigel feels blessed that a horse he bred, Creative Cause , is scheduled to run in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I). The grade I-winning 3-year-old son of Giant's Causeway is 12-1 on the morning line for the Triple Crown’s first leg.
“For a little breeder like me, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Weigel, who plans to be in the crowd at Churchill Downs when Creative Cause breaks from the starting gate.
Weigel, who lives in Southern California, owns only three broodmares. He boards Dream of Summer, the dam of Creative Cause, at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky. His other two mares, Marry by Summer (a full sister to Dream of Summer) and Wingless Flight, are at Marianne Millard’s Here Tis Ranch in the Golden State.
Weigel’s goal for all the offspring produced by those mares is to sell them at public auction.
“They go to the sales unless they are injured or are not conformed well enough and would bring peanuts,” he said. “Then we sell them privately for as much as we can get out of them. Sometimes we have to give them away.”
Weigel purchased Mary’s Dream (by Skywalker), the unraced second dam of Creative Cause, for $7,000 at the 1996 Barretts January mixed sale from National Bloodstock, agent for Old English Rancho and Steve Sahadi. Weigel bred her to Siberian Summer in 1998 and got Dream of Summer the following year.
Weigel wanted to sell Dream of Summer. But he ended up buying her back from Mary Knight’s consignment at the 2000 Barretts October yearling auction.
“Marianne kept telling me what a good-looking horse Dream of Summer was and that I shouldn’t let her go cheap,” Weigel said. “I didn’t put in a written reserve, but I had it fixed in my own mind that I wanted $10,000 for her. When the bidding stopped at $7,000, I grabbed her back at $8,000.”
For a long time it didn’t seem like Weigel had made the right decision.
“It took quite a while to get Dream of Summer to the races because she had a series of little niggling problems,” he said. “We would just about get her up to her first race and then she would buck a shin, so off to the ranch she would go. Then we would get her about ready for another race and then she would buck another shin. The third time we got her almost ready for the races, she had a hairline fracture.”
Dream of Summer didn’t make her first start until she was a 4-year-old, but the wait turned out to be worth it. During that season, she earned $1,191,150 and won four added-money events, including the 2004 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I).
“She had been a handful when she was in her early days of training, but once she got to the races, she was a sweetheart,” Weigel said. “I had no trouble standing next to her even when she got spooked because she wouldn’t hurt me. She was so lovable I used to kiss her on the nose.”
Creative Cause is Dream of Summer’s third foal. Weigel describes the breeding that produced the colt as a “consolation prize” because he originally had another mate in mind for the mare.
“I had a contract with Ashford Stud to breed her to Storm Cat (using a breeding right),” Weigel said. “But when she was ready, I heard that Storm Cat had only gotten two mares pregnant out of something like 23. I figured a Storm Cat offspring would be a real prize, so we tried to breed her to Storm Cat anyway, but we only did it one time and she didn’t get in foal. Then Steve Castignola, my account manager at Taylor Made at the time, arranged for the next best thing, which was to breed her to one of Storm Cat’s best sons, Giant’s Causeway, and she caught the first time.”
When growing up at Taylor Made, Creative Cause was “well-mannered but sort of nondescript and he was a little bit undersized,” Weigel said.
In 2010 Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned the colt for Weigel to the Keeneland September yearling auction. Florida horsewoman Becky Thomas purchased Creative Cause for $135,000.
“It (the price) was only about two-thirds of what I was expecting,” Weigel said. “But I had to let him go because that money was going to foot the bills for my California breeding operation.”
Thomas later sold Creative Cause privately to trainer Mike Harrington. He was acting on behalf of Heinz Steinmann, whose colors the colt will carry in the Derby.
“From what Taylor Made has told me, I’ll be at Churchill Downs in a luxury box,” said Weigel, a retired field test engineer who was involved in developing sonar equipment used in anti-submarine warfare. “It’s going to be a pretty big deal for me.”