Dream first Grade 1 win for rising Phoenix Thoroughbreds
Significant breakthrough for major new spending force at sales
Phoenix Thoroughbreds, the investment vehicle that has risen to become a major spending force at auctions in Europe and North America in the past year, celebrated a first winner at the highest level as two-year-old filly Dream Tree landed the Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos in California on Saturday.
The Bob Baffert-trained Dream Tree was sent off long odds-on for the Grade 1 contest over 1m½f on dirt and she eased to a three-and-a-quarter length victory over Yesterday's News, a first-crop daughter of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner New Year's Day saddled by Simon Callaghan.
Dream Tree had broken her maiden by a nose on debut at Santa Anita in October and was a narrow winner of the Listed Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar over 7f last time out. The extended trip of the Starlet Stakes appeared to bring out further improvement in the filly.
Dream Tree formed part of a worldwide spending spree on elite offerings at sales this year by Phoenix Thoroughbreds, as she was bought for $750,000 by the organisation's talent scout Kerri Radcliffe at the Fasig-Tipton two-year-olds in training sale in Florida in March.
Among Radcliffe's other big-money purchases this year were the Congrats two-year-old filly Diamondsandpearls, bought for $1.7 million at Ocala in March and an impressive debut winner for Baffert at Santa Anita in July, as well as the top lots at Arqana's breeze-up sale – the Street Sense colt Walk In The Sun at €1.4m – and yearling sale – a Dubawi colt out of Giofra at €1.55m.
Phoenix Thoroughbreds have also been stocking up on broodmare prospects, with $3m paid at Fasig-Tipton in November for Frizette Stakes winner Nickname and 925,000gns spent on the classy Sir Percy mare Oakley Girl at Tattersalls last week.
They have also bought a half-share in Aclaim, the Prix de la Foret winner by Acclamation who starts his stallion career at the National Stud in Newmarket next year.
Phoenix Thoroughbreds have notched five winners from six runners in Britain, all trained by Radcliffe's husband Jeremy Noseda, including Acomb Stakes third Lansky and Albany Stakes third Take Me With You.
Radcliffe announced on Twitter that “a huge percentage” of the prize-money earned by Dream Tree in her Grade 1 triumph would be donated to charities related to the San Luis Rey Downs wildfire.
Dream Tree becomes the fifth individual Grade 1 winner by Coolmore's outstanding young sire Uncle Mo, alongside Gomo, Mo Town, Outwork and, most notably, Nyquist, the Eclipse champion two-year-old and Kentucky Derby hero.
The son of Indian Charlie will stand at Ashford Stud in Kentucky at a fee of $125,000 in 2018.
Mike Freeny and Pat Freeny bred Dream Tree out of the winning Afleet Alex mare Afleet Maggi and the filly hails from the family of Travers Stakes scorer Golden Ticket.
Dream Tree has proved good business many times over: having been bred when Uncle Mo stood at just $27,500, she was sold by the Freenys to Michelle Redding for $80,000 as a foal at Keeneland; she was then sold to JSM Equine for $225,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July Yearling Sale before eventually joining Phoenix Thoroughbreds at a cost of $750,000.