Grand ambitions for Bob Lothenbach as he digs deep for yearlings
Owner getting deeper into racing since selling his printing business in 2016
As the numbers attest, Bob Lothenbach is a man on an upwardly-oriented mission to race at the highest levels, and his vision may take him beyond the borders of North America.
Including the four colts and two fillies just purchased at last week's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearling Sale for a total of $2.32 million to rank him among the leading buyers, Lothenbach has spent over $13.2m on yearlings at three major American auctions over the last several years.
“He’s upped his game,” said Lothenbach’s adviser Drew Nardiello. “He wants big-time horses.”
After selling his printing business in 2016, Lothenbach now “has the wherewithal to play at a higher level,” Nardiello explained, although the Minnesota native has been involved in racing ever since 1985, when he joined three friends in contributing $1,000 each to claim a racehorse for $4,000.
Lothenbach has come a long way since that first horse. In addition to increasing the quality of his purchases, he has amassed quantity, with his stable numbering more than 100 runners in recent seasons.
His goals are as streamlined as Nardiello stated, with his focus on elite runners that can take him to racing’s pinnacles. While Lothenbach has experimented with pinhooking and also breeds horses, his focus is on racing.
“If there is any chance that one of them is good enough to go to [Royal] Ascot, I think he would be game,” Nardiello said, adding that Lothenbach contemplated a Melbourne Cup raid about seven years ago with his Grade 2 winner Bearpath before the Dynaformer gelding suffered what proved to be a fatal injury.
“This man is very game to take on any challenges, if it makes sense,” added Nardiello, who was joined by one of Lothenbach’s trainers, Ian Wilkes, in making the Saratoga selections while working within budgets set for each horse.
Lothenbach has said he does not like to attend sales.
The Saratoga purchases were topped by a $635,000 colt by Medaglia D’Oro out of the Arch mare Androeah, a sister to Grade 1 winner and sire Archarcharch.
Bred by Anderson Farms and Peter A Berglar Racing Interests in Ontario, the colt was acquired as a weanling for $350,000 by the Blue Sky Stables pinhooking entity affiliated with Gainesway, which then consigned him to the Saratoga sale.
Lothenbach also acquired a colt from the first crop of yearlings by Empire Maker since the sire returned to America from Japan, paying $550,000 for a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Term Of Art from the family of Horse of the Year and sire Mineshaft and Grade 1 winner and sire Mr Sidney. The colt was bred by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, which had also bred Bearpath.
Among the other Saratoga yearlings purchased by Lothenbach were a $425,000 Quality Road colt; a $325,000 filly from the first crop of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and a $255,000 colt from the initial crop of Breeders’ Cup winner Liam’s Map.
The recent Lothenbach purchases follow his acquisition of 30 yearlings from the past three Keeneland September auctions for a total of $7.225m and 11 yearlings total from the 2016 and 2017 Saratoga sales for $2.615m. He has also bought seven yearlings at the last three Fasig-Tipton July sales for a combined $1.055m, and those horses join youngsters from his own select breeding programme.
“He loves the game, he likes the action,” Nardiello said of Lothenbach, who over time has campaigned high-achieving horses including homebred Grade 1 winners Mayo On The Side and Vacare and whose homebred multiple Graded stakes-placed Captivating Moon was an honourable fifth in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington on Saturday.
“We’re just trying to find him a good horse,” Nardiello said, adding that the Lothenbach team that also includes trainers Chris Block and Neil Pessin will be back in buying action again at Keeneland in September.
“Hopefully, we’re buying good horses from good breeders.”
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