The Gamble - by Evan Hammonds

No one can time the market with any consistency; often one finds himself at the corner of value and opportunity. That was the case just 13 months ago when the Taylor boys—Duncan, Ben, Frank, and Mark—and some of their Taylor Made Stallions clients took a shot by acquiring a 30% stake in California Chrome.

California Chrome had been valued between $20 to $30 million with the first two legs of the Triple Crown in his hip pocket in June 2014. A little more than a year later that valuation had deflated as other Kentucky stallion operators cooled to a 4-year-old Cal-bred who had run second in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-I) and was slow to rebound following a stopover in Europe before returning to the States.

History has proved the odds are stacked against horses coming back off a year’s rest to return to the same level of performance, and Kentucky breeders may not have been sold on the colt’s pedigree. However, the Taylors—all four boys in agreement—forged ahead to buy co-breeder and co-owner Steve Coburn’s share.
“People questioned Tiznow, saying ‘He’s just a Cal-bred,’ but he had a super female family,” said Frank Taylor. “People said the same thing about Chrome–he’s just a Cal-bred; actually his pedigree is outstanding. We have a partner, Mike Stinson, who is a pedigree guy, and he called us when we all had Chrome on the radar in 2014, and he loved his pedigree. He told us he wanted a piece of Chrome if we could get him. He was out of our range at the time of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).”

It was a big play last July, but it’s making hay.

More people are sold on California Chrome another 13 months later after the horse’s miraculous 5-year-old campaign continued Aug. 20 with a dominating effort over champion Beholder in Del Mar’s $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I).

“I’ve been around hundreds of thousands of horses, and I don’t think I’ve been around one that is this smart,” Taylor said. “He understands what is going on and how to be a racehorse. He’s just a different kind of horse.”

California Chrome has earned more than $6 million so far this year—more than he would have earned at stud—with two more big payday potentials. The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) awaits at Santa Anita Park Nov. 5. The Chrome team took $1 million from his victory in this year’s World Cup’s $6 million payoff to buy a slot in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (gr. I) next January at Gulfstream Park.

And his value as a stallion continues to head north.

“We’ve already sold 15 shares in the horse to some high-end guys who are committed to breed some of their best mares to him in the first four years and even some new guys who don’t have mares but have committed to buying some high-end mares this fall to breed to him,” Taylor said. “Perry Martin is going to sell the mare (Love the Chase), in foal to Tapit, in November and take that money to invest in mares to breed to California Chrome.”

As for a potential stud fee, Taylor said, “I polled 30 guys at Saratoga earlier this month and got feedback on a stud fee anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000…what I do know is we will stand him for less than what we think the market will be so we can get the best range of mares to choose from.”

Taylor was proud of the team’s horse the day after the Pacific Classic and was thankful for his good fortune.

“We took a good gamble; but it was just kind of meant to be,” he said. “I never thought I’d have this much luck.”

Or timing.

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