OTTB Spotlight: Prime Cut

I apologize for another long hiatus! I have been focusing on more on stallion news for the magazine and website, and with that plus sale coverage, I've been extremely busy since I returned from maternity leave. But I'm determined to still update my blog whenever possible!

Following is a story about Prime Cut, whose prominent half siblings are graded stakes winners Vyjack and Tepin. Prime Cut was bought by Carrie Brogden of Machmer Hall for a mere $1,000 at last year's Keeneland November mixed sale, and is now being re-trained as a hunter/jumper show horse in Virginia. I hope you enjoy his story!


Prime Cut, a half brother to eventual graded stakes winners Vyjack and Tepin, had all the promise in the world when Carrie Brogden of Machmer Hall first caught glimpse of him as a weanling at the 2008 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

"We bought (his dam) Life Happened for $45,000 not in foal because Prime Cut was right behind her (in the sale) and was so unbelievably gorgeous," said Brogden, who was also the underbidder on the son of Bernstein.

Prime Cut was pinhooked for $55,000 at that sale by F.J.M. Stables, after which he fetched $475,000 from Mike Ryan the following year at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

Brogden never guessed that after Prime Cut had earned two graded stakes placings and banked more than $165,000 she would have another opportunity to purchase the colt--this time for just $1,000.

After a career-ending injury, Prime Cut was offered at the 2013 Keeneland November sale as a stallion prospect, but with the absence of graded stakes victories on his resume, nobody was interested.

"He's 16'3, drop dead gorgeous, and here he would have been a no-bid at the sale unless I bid $1,000 on him," said Brogden. "Tom Thornbury (of Keeneland) came (to let me sign the ticket) and I just started crying...because it's such a sad statement for our industry. Here's a horse that sold as a weanling for $55,000, sold for $475,000 as a yearling, then went on the (Kentucky) Derby trail and competed in high-level graded stakes, giving people lots of thrills and earning more than $100,000, and then he was just dumped like he was worthless."

Today, Prime Cut is being trained for a new career, thanks to the actions of Brogden and her sister, Kristy Willwerth, who is working with him at her Picturesque Farm near Warrenton, Va.

Brogden hopes the fact she purchased Prime Cut--a horse with whom she had been formerly connected--in order to ensure his safety and welfare will inspire other breeders to do the same.

"I'm trying to have some responsibility and track down horses I bred to make sure they get good homes," she said. "I want to inspire others by what I do; I'm not trying to lecture people. When people tell me they love Prime Cut's story, I tell them, 'You do it. You track down your horses; you buy them; you put them on your farm; you find someone to retrain them. If all the owners of all these farms did it, it would make a huge difference."

Prime Cut is actually the fifth horse Brogden has re-homed in the last year.

Among the others are a graded stakes-placed Mineshaft horse named Philippe who Brogden acquired from Prime Cut's owner, Don Adam of Courtlandt Farms, and sent to a longtime friend in Virginia to become a riding horse. Another horse she formerly owned and then bought back is the Strong Hope gelding named History Starts Now, who is being re-trained to become a barrel racer.

Brogden hopes Willwerth will be able to turn Prime Cut into a nice hunter/jumper horse and eventually re-sell him as a show prospect. Fortunately, Adam retired the horse before he sustained any serious injuries, which greatly boosts his chances at having a successful second career.

Prime Cut at Picturesque Farm

"You have to find the right niche for the right personality of each horse," she explained. "Barrel racing suits (History Starts Now) a lot better; he was too hot to be a show hunter. Prime Cut, on the other hand, is very laid back and sweet and I think will make a good show hunter."

After purchasing Prime Cut at the Keeneland November sale, Brogden had him gelded and turned out for a month at her Machmer Hall near Paris, Ky. before sending him to Virginia.

"They really need that 'let-down' time to lose the mental craziness of being a racehorse," she explained. "Retraining is so much easier if they're let down's amazing how much their personalities change and how much that mental break helps."

Prime Cut has adjusted well to life at Picturesque, according to Willwerth. His pasture mates are two of Willwerth's ponies, and the trio has become good friends, thanks in part to Prime Cut's calm disposition.

Prime Cut (right) and his new pony friend

Best buds (Prime Cut on right)

"We rode him in the indoor arena the day after Carrie sent him here and he walked and trotted around; nothing fazed him," said Willwerth. "With cantering, he's what we call a typical 'trackie.' He's got a great natural canter, but he doesn't know how to balance around like a show horse yet."

Willwerth is confident that in time, however, he will learn and improve.

"I think he's going to come around well," she said. "We haven't put him over jumps yet; our weather here has been so inconsistent. But we get on him twice or three times a week...and I think he's going to love the show hunter world.

"His neck comes out of his shoulders just like we like them for the show horse; he naturally wants to go long and low," Willwerth continued. "Even if he panics, he doesn't do anything about it...whoever took the time with him, they didn't allow him to go chomping on the bit. He's very calm and just stands and watches everything.

"The ultimate goal is a re-sale project. Hopefully he can be a nice hunter for a child or an adult. He's beautiful...he's got that big, wide forehead and the best eye ever. I'm glad Carrie got him and he's going to have a chance. You couldn't ask for a better brain and a better personality. Everyone really likes him; he's a character. It's neat to have such a quality horse here."


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