Updated: Jan 1
The progeny of the thoroughbred mare, CAT BY THE TALE (USA) have amassed over 2 million Australian Dollars in the sales ring. Reading a recent press release by the famed Arrowfield Stud in Australia & her current owners, I thought I would elaborate on my part in the celebrated thoroughbreds career that facilitated her arrival in Australia.
For me, the ‘tale’ goes back to 2008. I was attending the Keeneland January sale on behalf of the late and very much missed former Master of the Ward Union Hunt, Raymond Keogh. Our preferred option, a three year old gelding from the Phipps Stable exceeded our budget. But U.S based Skibbereen native, the astute Mike Leahy guided me in the direction of a three year old filly called CAT BY THE TALE (USA). Mike had been an Irish National Stud graduate and a James Bond Belmont Park assistant during the heady days of Payson patronage. He knew the filly’s breeding well. Her grandam, owned by Lord Vestey, had been boarded at the Irish National Stud during Mike’s days there while being bred to INDIAN RIDGE (IRE). On closer inspection, CAT BY THE TALE (USA) was indeed a very athletic model and reviewing the pedigree, I noticed her grandam was a filly called YOUNG ST CLAIR (IRE) who had been the best sprinting filly in the North of England in 1974. During my 12 year training career, I had beaten her in the Doncaster Stakes, run on Observer Gold Cup day with my first UK runner called WILLY WILLY (IRE) ridden by Lester Piggott. Second that day was a horse called NEVERMORE (USA), trained by John Dunlop, who had won the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. All connections were pointing to rock solid form and pedigree.
CAT BY THE TALE (USA) had two starts as a two year old, finishing third on her debut and fifth on her second start at Arlington Park. A combination of an alleged slipped saddle and a carpal chip fracture (later removed) were suggested as an explanation for her diminished performance .With my US Veterinary license successfully completed in 2000, I was able to conduct laryngoscopy and review repository radiographs. All were satisfactory but equally important, Mike Leahy knew her exercise rider. No issues there.
At Keenland that year, bidding was brisk as is usual in US sales rings. Consigned as a ‘Racing Prospect’ by Warrendale Sales Agents on behalf of a partnership between her trainer David Hanley and Ben Walden Jr, it was possible that I could be bidding against one of them. My bid of $48Kwas topped by one of $50K …..’Don’t stop now’ uttered Leahy and my bid of $52K secured the sale and she made the journey across the Atlantic to Ireland.
Back in Ireland, CAT BY THE TALE (USA) was put into training with David Wachman. She won her maiden over 7 furlongs at Tipperary beating a Bolger HOTPOT colt. CAT BY THE TALE (USA) next won the Keeneland sponsored handicap on Irish Oaks Day in a thrilling photo finish. However when she finished third in a Gowran Park handicap, giving 27 pounds to two five year old geldings, I suggested to her owner, Raymond Keogh that in view of the excess of handicaps in the Irish Racing programme as against the wonderful conditions in the US racing programme, it was time to return her to the land of her birth. He agreed. For the clearly talented mare, I suggested Hall of Fame trainer, Neil Drysdale based at Santa Anita. I had known Drysdale since 1969 during our Tartan Farm days in Ocala. I was an Intern veterinarian and he an emerging trainer.
On speaking with Neil, I made it clear that conditional upon CAT BY THE TALE (USA) arriving at his barn was that she was fed daily my patented Champion Oat Balancer™ (Available from www.belmontequineproducts.com). Drysdale agreed and under his care, CAT BY THE TALE (USA) ran 8 times at Santa Anita and earned 8 cheques. She won on her first start down the famed six furlong grass Santa Anita course. The talented mare also won the San Gorgonia Gr. 2 and became Gr.1 placed. In a short space of time, CAT BY THE TALE (USA) amassed $350K in prize money resulting in her sale to Australia for several times her original Keeneland January sales price. CAT BY THE TALE (USA) made a lot of folks happy along the way, including me!.