The frantic preparations for the dispersal of more than 120 horses, including broodmares, weanlings, stallion prospects, and racehorses in the Keeneland November sale has given me a reason to look back at the many photos and articles that have been collected since Overbrook Farm was founded in the late 1970s. My childhood summers were spent working in Barn 1 with the mares and foals, and in digging through the archives I found a photo of me with a colt from the last crop of Northern Dancer out of a French Oaks (Fr-I)-winning mare, Mrs. Penny. I remember his sale preparation and watching him top the Keeneland July sale in 1989 for $2.8 million.
As I got older, some of the most treasured memories involve going to the races with my family and especially with my grandfather, W.T. Young. His enthusiasm was contagious as we traveled to watch various Overbrook horses compete. Of course, I’ll always remember Grindstone winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and the agonizing delay as the stewards reviewed the photo to determine that he indeed had won. Paying $41 to win, Cat Thief’s victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Gulfstream was as exhilarating as it was profitable.
I remember the fun my grandfather had with his great friend David Reynolds when Tabasco Cat won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (both gr. I). We were all there to cheer him on to victory in those races. As a family, we were also fortunate to experience the campaigns of graded stakes-winning homebreds such as Mountain Cat, Cape Town, Cape Canaveral, Boston Harbor, Jump Start, Tactical Cat, Carson City, and Storm Cat. These were all special horses to us at Overbrook.
As much as I enjoyed watching our homebred colts race, I particularly enjoyed the Overbrook fillies. From the racetrack to the farm, they have become like an extended family to us at Overbrook as their offspring continue to perform well at the track and in the sale ring. For me, it started with Seaside Attraction winning the 1990 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Purchased as a weanling out of the Warner L. Jones dispersal, she went on to produce four graded stakes winners, including 2-year-old champion Golden Attraction.
Perhaps my favorite memory is of Flanders drawing off to win the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) by 21 lengths on the same fall afternoon as Timber Country won the Champagne Stakes (gr. I). My sister led Timber Country into the winner’s circle, while I led Flanders, and my whole family was there to celebrate their victories.
Flanders would produce another family favorite, Surfside. I was lucky to be there with my grandfather and enjoy her multiple grade Is in California, with victories in the Hollywood Starlet, Santa Anita Oaks, and the Las Virgenes Stakes. Other graded stakes-winning fillies that we cheered to victory include Cuddles, Fiery Pursuit, Katz Me If You Can, Magic Storm, Patches, Pearl City, Penny’s Gold, and Storm Star.
These shared experiences with family, both human and equine, are part of what makes the sport of Thoroughbred racing and breeding so special. As we extended their families, these horses became a part of our extended family. Each new addition was eagerly anticipated and each generation added to our bond. My grandfather and our advisers at Overbrook took great care in the selection of new breeding stock, and we’ve been diligent over the years in deciding which of the race fillies to add to our broodmare band.
Personally, I’m only going to keep three 2-year-old fillies from the racing stable: A Storm Cat filly from the nice Juddmonte family of grade I winners Distant Music, Temperence Hill, and Vanlandingham; a Dynaformer filly from the fantastic family of Chris Evert through her daughter Nijinsky Star; and the A.P. Indy daughter of Flanders. Hopefully, these three will perform well on the track and will become the nucleus of the next generation of Overbrook stars. When my grandfather started acquiring his foundation stock, he started with three young racemares from nice families who had proven themselves stellar athletes on the racetrack. I can only hope this sweet symmetry will be recognized.
Every other broodmare, weanling, and racehorse will be sold without reserve and, with a little patience and luck, perhaps they too can become foundation stock for their new owners. These families have been good to us, and I trust they will reward their new families with continued good memories. I know that I’ll continue to cheer them and their offspring to victories in the future.
Chris Young is the grandson of Overbrook Farm founder W.T. Young Jr.