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Monday, 10 December, 2018

How Trump's publicity shy friend Brant has spent big but said little

Michele MacDonald charts the sales ring activity of the tight-lipped owner

Peter Brant after purchasing Enchanted Rock for $2 million
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Standing near the back walking ring at Keeneland on Wednesday, Peter Brant watched intently as bidding climbed steadily upward on Enchanted Rock, the big and beautiful chestnut mare who has already produced Grade 1 winner Verrazano and Grade 2 winner El Padrino.

This was a mare he wanted and, as has been the case with many others over the past year, Brant would not be denied. The businessman, who is a noted polo player, art collector and lifelong friend of US president Donald Trump, prevailed with a bid of $2 million.

By the end of the afternoon, he had added two more acquisitions to his equine portfolio, increasing his spending spree to more than $25m since actively re-entering the racing world last autumn.

Ironically, considering he has published magazines and operates a newsprint company, Brant has continued a ritualistic dance with reporters covering bloodstock sales, shaking his head and stepping away when asked about his plans for the horses.

"I'm not interested, thanks," he said at Fasig-Tipton on Monday after purchasing Gestut Fahrhof's Grade 1-placed Dubawi filly Quidura, sold as a racing or broodmare prospect, for $3.6m.

US trainer Chad Brown has often stood close by Brant's side and he, too, has dismissed questions about the owner's aspirations.

"I just sign the tickets for Mr Brant," Brown said after Enchanted Rock, in foal to More Than Ready, was sold by owner Emory Hamilton from the Gainesway consignment.

Enchanted Rock is led to the Keeneland sales ring
Brant raced US champion Gulch and bred that horse's 1995 Kentucky Derby-winning son Thunder Gulch. He was also involved in the racing career of Claiborne Farm's Kentucky Derby winner Swale after suggesting to then farm president Seth Hancock that he move Mr Prospector to Kentucky from Florida in 1980, a strategy that changed breeding history. 

But Brant had been out of racing for about two decades prior to jumping back in with a vengeance last year. He bought at least 19 horses from the Wildenstein dispersal at Goffs for €7.5m, picking up bloodlines just as he had zealously acquired paintings by his late friend Andy Warhol.

Since adding the likes of unique gem Beauty Parlour – the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches winner by Japan's Deep Impact – from the Wildenstein jewels, Brant has bought across the spectrum of bloodlines in Europe and the US, adding weanlings, yearlings and mares to his herd.

He has also raced horses on both sides of the Atlantic, with runners including Paid Up Subscriber, a $1.1m acquisition at Fasig-Tipton in 2016 who won the Grade 3 Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga in July. That daughter of Candy Ride competed in the names of Brant and his cousin Joseph Allen, the breeder of Dynaformer and War Front.

Almost instantly, considering the span of time it typically takes to build up an elite stable, Brant has amassed holdings that would be envied worldwide. The six yearlings he and Brown acquired at this year’s Tattersalls October sale included a Dubawi colt out of Loveisallyouneed, a sister to champion Quarter Moon and to her fellow Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Yesterday, for which they paid 425,000gns.

In September, Brant and Brown bought 13 yearlings at Keeneland, including offspring of War Front, Medaglia D’Oro, Curlin, Pioneerof The Nile and Candy Ride, for a combined $6.46m. That group includes two yearlings in partnership with Coolmore, a $1m Quality Road colt who is a brother to Grade 2 winner Blofeld and a $675,000 Uncle Mo colt from the family of Grade 1 winner A.P. Indian.

In watching Enchanted Rock sell to Brant, Hamilton said she became emotional, mentioning how good the mare had been to her. But she said she was glad that Brant had been the buyer.

"We're old friends. We go way back," Hamilton said. "He'll take her over to Claiborne – they're old friends, too. It's a good situation."

While Brant might not be talking about his plans for racing and breeding, his spending and his history make it clear that his ambitions are all about winning.

"My whole life I've hated to lose, no doubt about it," Brant told The New York Times in a 2010 interview. "I've been guilty of that since I was six years old, at camp. I have always played to win. That's who I am."


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Ironically, considering he has published magazines and operates a newsprint company, Brant has continued a ritualistic dance with reporters

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