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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Medaglia D'Oro colt brings a touch of Trinidad to Deauville

Ecurie des Monceaux offers a son of the in-demand sire for the Meahjohn family

The Medaglia D'Oro colt out of Rusty Slipper selling at Arqana this weekend
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If there was one thing the recent Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale in New York taught us, it was that buyers have an insatiable appetite for Medaglia D'Oro at present. Seven youngsters by the Kentucky-based stallion sold for an average of $787,500 and they included the two most expensive lots of the auction, a colt and filly sold for $1.35 million and $1.3m, as well as another daughter who sold for a round $1m.

The sire is one of those rare and consequently priceless commodities, whose progeny are effective on both sides of the Atlantic and, indeed, all around the world. In the US his runners are headed by the exceptional racing matriarchs Rachel Alexandra and Songbird, while in Europe he has been represented by the likes of Passion For Gold and Talismanic and from his shuttle trips to Australia he left the Group 1 winners Astern and Vancouver.

The grandson of Sadler's Wells via El Prado has a fine flagbearer at the moment in the Canadian filly Wonder Gadot, runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks before defeating colts to take the first two legs of her native country's Triple Crown, the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes. She has been impressing clock-watchers while working ahead of her next slated start against the cream of the US colts in the Travers Stakes this month.

There is a single chance to purchase a yearling by Medaglia D'Oro at the Arqana August Sale in Deauville this weekend and the colt in question should be in strong demand as a one-off by such a prestigious sire, with a high-achieving dam to boot.

He is being offered by leading French nursery Ecurie des Monceaux, who raised him on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago businessman Zanim Meahjohn and his family. He is the first foal out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Rusty Slipper, who was sent out by Graham Motion in the US to carry Meahjohn's silks to score twice at Grade 3 level, in the Violet Stakes at Monmouth and the Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar, and was only around two lengths behind Emollient when third in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes.

Zanim (left) and Gregory Meahjohn flank their homebred Grade 2 winner Fortune Pearl

Zanim's son Gregory takes up the story of his father's path to racing at the top table and breeding one of the best-bred lots at Deauville.

“My family’s core business has been construction, but my dad used to attend the races as a kid,” he says. “He’d sneak off to the racetrack, which at the time was at the Queen’s Park Savannah. It was a stone’s throw from where he lived.

“Eventually, as he became successful in his own right within the construction industry, he bought his first horse who competed at the lower levels.

“From the late 1980s onwards, his stable grew over time and he began purchasing mares and two-year-olds at the breeze-up sales from the States and exporting them to Trinidad.

“In 1996 he bought a son of Bet Twice from the Ocala June two-year-olds in training sale who went on to be Trinidad's 1997 champion imported sprinter, champion imported stayer and horse of the year as a three-year-old, after winning the country’s two most prestigious races, the Stewards Cup [over 6f] andGold Cup [over 1m2f] two weeks later, among others. In 1999 we won the Gold Cup again with a three-year-old maiden, also purchased at Ocala.

“Our venture to uncharted waters began in 2002, when we bought a filly at the Ocala April breeze-up sale, Chelsea’s Pearl. She was a minor stakes-placed filly but went on to produce a Grade 2 winner in Fortune Pearl. Trained by Graham Motion, she was third in the Black Eyed Susan and then won the Delaware Oaks, and went on to finish fourth to Stopchargingmaria in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.”

Rusty Slipper, dam of the Deauville-bound Medaglia D'Oro colt, in her racing pomp

But the first US stakes success for the Meahjohns was provided by Rusty Slipper, who was already a sibling to stakes winners Approval Rating and Gulch Approval when she was sourced as a yearling but whose page has been enhanced not only by her own exploits but also by those of her half-sister Moyne Abbey's son, Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong.

“Rusty Slipper was picked out by our adviser Marc McLean from Crestwood Farm in Kentucky,” says Gregory. “We board our breeding stock at their farm and he has been very influential in the management of our breeding and racing stock within in the US. We didn't attend the sale that year, but her pedigree was hard to bypass.”

A mating with Medaglia D'Oro at the end of her racing career was always in the back of the family's minds since her third in the Rodeo Drive, as was a future for the mare in Europe, he adds.

“Medaglia D'Oro appealed to us because he kept getting all those good runners on both surfaces and so he just kept getting hotter and hotter.

“Rusty’s got the pedigree appeal for turf stallions and at the time we thought the European stallion contingent will be a good fit for her, so the plan was always to have her bred to Medaglia D’Oro and then sent across the pond once in foal.”

Rusty Slipper has a filly foal by Sea The Stars who will be retained, as the Meahjohns plan to sell the colts and keep the females. The mare is back in foal to Invincible Spirit.

The French connection comes from the Meahjohn family's longstanding association with Ghislain Bozo of Meridian International. His brother Henri is the manager of Monceaux, custodian of Rusty Slipper and her Medaglia D'Oro colt.

“It's a funny story as Ghislain approached my dad at the Keeneland November sale in 2002, enquiring which country he was from as he thought he was from India,” Gregory says. “Later that year, my dad was at the Arqana December sale where he saw Ghislain and they began talking, and it turned out that they had a mutual friend from Martinique.

“My dad eventually bought three mares with Ghislain acting as his agent. They have been close friends since then, and it's through Ghislain that we met Henri, so it was inevitable that our mares would go to Monceaux.”

One of the Meahjohns' earlier European purchases achieved a degree of success, when the Kahyasi mare Kansas produced the Group 3 winners Autor and Without Fear.

“The racing and breeding industry in Trinidad isn’t very lucrative, so a decision was made to invest into quality fillies who can become successful producers when they’ve retired from racing,” Gregory adds. “Our initial contacts were in France, through Ghislain. Eventually we met with the guys from Crestwood Farm in Kentucky via Ghislain and the rest is history.”

The Meahjohns will be in Deauville to see how their bold transatlantic trade fares, but Gregory is keeping his feet on the ground despite the current mania for the colt's sire Medaglia D'Oro.

“The sire has been on fire for the past few years, and it's satisfying to see the results from Saratoga, but as with everything in this industry anything can happen,” he says.

“We can only hope for the best and that everything goes well with the colt in the final few days leading up to the sale.” 


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Medaglia D'Oro appealed to us because he kept getting all those good runners on both surfaces and so he just kept getting hotter and hotter

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