Classic Hopes in Calumet's Renewal

(By Avalyn Hunter)

 2012 has been a year of changes for historic Calumet Farm. Sold to the Calumet Investment Group Trust and officially leased to billionaire businessman Brad Kelley, the farm now is revamping its breeding operations. Stallions Ice Box and Cactus Ridge, who both stood at Calumet in 2012 while the farm was still owned by Kennelot Stables (part of the de Kwiatkowski Trust), have moved on, and in their place are two sons of Dynaformer--2010 Emirates Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) winner Americain and stakes winner Lentenor--and the multiple grade II winner Aikenite, by Yes It's True.

Calumet already owns a majority interest in English Channel, like Americain a staying turf runner but one who appears to be defying the American bias against such horses as sires. Currently third on the second-crop sire list behind Hard Spun and Scat Daddy, English Channel's runners include Optimizer, who represented Kelley in the 2012 Triple Crown races.

Optimizer finished up the track in the classics, but he may be a signal as to Kelley's intentions for his breeding program at Calumet. Another may be the acquisition of Americain, who will fall heir to a number of mares purchased specifically to be sent to his sire. These moves do not suggest someone who is looking either for profits in the sale ring or a quick return on investment at the track. What they do suggest is that Kelley is serious about breeding horses that can recapture Calumet's glory days in the mid-20th century. And that means horses with the stamina, soundness, and speed to capture Triple Crown races, the top weight-for-age races, and major handicaps.

Lentenor and Aikenite are also signals that Kelley is willing to think a bit outside the box and perhaps longer-term than most in pursuit of his breeding goals. Neither can be said to have a particularly fashionable pedigree, although Lentenor does have the cachet of being a full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro and Aikenite descends from the same family as 1999 dual classic winner Charismatic. But both have speed combined with pedigrees that hold some stamina elements, a good combination for use with more stamina-oriented mares than will suit Americain.

Breeding programs oriented toward the classics and other major races in the range of nine to 12 furlongs usually require serious planning and investment up front and plenty of patience before the desired results start coming in--if they ever do. Kelley appears to be making the investment; it remains to be seen if his planning is as sound as it is daring by conventional standards of wisdom. Here's hoping that his patience will be rewarded.


Leave a Comment:

Karen in Indiana

Good for Mr. Kelley and, ultimately, good for horse racing. I wish him the best of success. In the golden age of horse racing, the greats were products of people thinking back generations to see what they could make forward in generations. Maybe one of the benefits of the downturn in the economy is that those who were in it for a quick return will have less of an impact on the breed while those who are working to create a legacy can have more.

How much of a chance would Dynaformer himself have been given in this day and age based on his race record? What made him great were his offspring's accomplishments.

03 Dec 2012 1:21 PM

Anything's possible, but those two (Dynaformers) seem little more than weak pretenders to the throne. The real hope-Point Of Entry (out of, perhaps, the greatest broodmare on earth)-remains in training...I think it's fine that Mr. Kelley is breeding with non-commercial intent. I just hope that his choices and goals are truly his, and not the result of some misguided advisor's advice.

03 Dec 2012 3:18 PM

I wish Calumet the very best in order to recapture The Glory Years.  As a child, I was enthralled by Calumet and all its runners.  As a matter of fact, the first racehorse I ever saw in person was Tim Tam while he was recuperating from a fractured sesamoid at the University of Pennsylvania.  What a thrill that was for a 10-year-old!  I have loved the farm ever since.  Good luck, Calumet!

04 Dec 2012 4:03 AM
Dawn in MN

Wouldn't it be cool for the farm to feature legacy bloodlines honoring some of the great horses whose hooves pounded on those acres?  May the racing gods be with the farm.

04 Dec 2012 5:53 AM
big john t


I also hope Mr. Kelley's choices and goals are truly his and I agree that those two stallions seem pretty weak.   My guess is that Mr. Kelly didn't become a BILLIONAIRE by taking advice from misguided advisors.

04 Dec 2012 1:17 PM

i'm surprised that they didn't move english channel to the farm as well. since the owner has majority share in that stallion, standing at lane's end.

05 Dec 2012 3:50 PM

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