Undefeated Juvenile Rickey B Makes it Four

San Miguel, CA (November 30, 2018)-Juvenile colt Rickey B, a son of Richard’s Kid, kept his perfect record going by taking an allowance optional claiming event at Del Mar.

Rickey B, a winner of four straight, is out of Madoffwiththemoney (by Tribal Rule) and he was bred by Frank Aldrich & Marysue Aldrich and has earned $80,940.

Richard’s Kid also has two maiden special winners recently including: Coco Bee won a Golden Gate Fields maiden special by four and Sedamar a Del Mar maiden special winner.

Richard’s Kid is a multiple Grade One winner of nearly $2.5 million and the winner of back to back Pacific Classics; he is a son of Lemon Drop Kid and Tough Broad, by Broad Brush. He is standing for $3,000 as the property of a partnership.

Big Ceas Becomes First Winner For Northern Causeway

By Jeremy Balan
Albany, CA (November 11, 2018)-With a stalk-and-pounce, half-length victory in the nightcap at Golden Gate Fields November 11, Stewball Stable, Gary Oetman, and Scott Silvestri’s Big Ceas became the first winner for his sire, Northern Causeway.

Jockey Juan Hernandez guided the 9-1 Big Ceas to the win in the six-furlong maiden special weight for California-bred or -sired 2-year-olds, the gelding’s eight start for trainer Michael Lenzini. The final time was 1:10.48.

Trained by Keith Nations early on at Golden Gate, Northern Causeway moved to trainer Len Kasmerski after his third start and won the British Columbia Derby (G3) at Hastings Racecourse for the conditioner in 2011. He also won the Richmond Derby Trial Handicap at Hastings ahead of his British Columbia Derby win, and placed in the 2012 BC Premier’s Handicap (G3). A five-time winner from 30 starts, the Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway , out of the Silver Deputy mare Getaway Girl, brought in $265,367 in purse earnings during his racing career.

Northern Causeway stands at Rancho San Miguel in San Miguel, Calif. and for a 2019 fee of $2,500.

Bred in California by Rozamund Barclay, out of the Indian Charlie mare Ann’s Intuition, Big Ceas now has a 1-5-0 record and $55,941 in earnings. He was a $11,000 purchase by Oetman at the Barretts Fall Yearling and All Ages Sale in 2017.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE AT RANCHO SAN MIGUEL

BY TRACY GANTZ | PHOTOS BY RON MESAROS

reprinted from the California Thoroughbred November 2018
Breeding winners is a goal each mare owner can approach differently. No matter what path a breeder prefers to take, Tom Clark and Clay Murdock want to provide the answer at Rancho San Miguel.

“We’ve got a number of dedicated clients who leave their horses at the farm year-round,” said Clark. “They’re constantly looking for new stallions to breed to, and they’re looking for different types of stallions. We need to meet the demands of our client base.”

Clark and his wife, Nancy, own Rancho San Miguel, having bought it in 2000. Murdock has managed the property for more than 30 years, first for Dr. William Marano and then for the Clarks. Murdock, a team of dedicated employees, and the Clarks have worked hard to position Rancho San Miguel as a top California farm, and their efforts have paid of.

“Last year we bred more mares than we ever have before, right around 400,” said Murdock.

The farm’s location, a plethora of large, grassy pastures, and a wide variety of stallions play key roles in the farm’s success. Murdock’s longtime association with Rancho San Miguel and the efforts of the employees, many of whom have been there for years, are more reasons many California breeders patronize the farm and its diverse stallion roster.

Clark thinks so highly of Murdock that last year he nominated the manager for the prestigious Godolphin Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards. Tough the awards come out of Kentucky, Murdock was one of three finalists in the Leadership Award—Farm category.

“We have great employees and great leadership from Clay,” said Clark. “We also make sure that we have a resident veterinarian on staff so that we have good care close to the horses and can respond very quickly.”

Dr. Jim Meyers has taken over the resident veterinarian position relatively recently. He grew up in the area and did his undergraduate work at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He obtained his veterinary degree from the University of California at Davis.

Rancho San Miguel consists of 250 acres in San Miguel, just north of Paso Robles.

“We’re equidistant between the northern market and the southern market in California,” said Clark. “We’re about four hours from San Francisco and L.A., and we’re only about 20 miles from the ocean. So every evening we get a breeze that comes in and cools it of, which we think is very healthy for the horses.”

The Clarks and Murdock are in the middle of a renovation project that includes upgrading the employee housing, adding pens, upgrading existing barns, and the construction of a new 16-stall barn, with plans on the drawing board for still another barn. When that work is completed, Murdock estimates that Rancho San Miguel will have about 85 stalls spread among nine barns.

While Rancho San Miguel has a dedicated stallion barn, most of the other barns are multi-use to give the farm flexibility. When Marano owned Rancho San Miguel, it was primarily a training facility, but the Clarks and Murdock have now positioned it as a breeding facility. Services include all facets of breeding, foaling, and broodmare management, as well as sales preparation and the care of young horses until they are ready to go into serious training.

Rancho San Miguel sits on a good aquifer, and the farm has five wells and an extensive irrigation system that allows for good grass pastures. Mares and young horses have plenty of room, while each stallion has not only a spacious stall but an individual area so that he gets the exercise he needs as well.

Sydnee Brown aids Murdock as his assistant manager and broodmare manager, and she has become an invaluable member of the Rancho San Miguel team.

“She puts in a lot of hours,” said Murdock. “She helps with all of the foaling, and she watches the mares. She keeps up on all the medication. I kind of look at her like a mother hen. She has been a big asset.”

Gerardo Guerra is the yearling manager and does much of the sale prep work as well.

“He’s a very good hand— one of the best I’ve ever had— with a young horse,” said Murdock. “He helps keep the place going, and he handles the stallions during the breeding season.”

Johanna Young is the assistant breeding manager, and Lindsay Boutwell is the office manager. Both play important roles in keeping Rancho San Miguel running smoothly.

With nine stallions and the number of mares bred at record highs, the employees are especially busy during the breeding season. This past year Rancho San Miguel added an exciting prospect in Danzing Candy, a son of Twirling Candy and a grandson of Candy Ride.

That entire sire line made its reputation in California. Candy Ride, after a championship run in his native Argentina, won the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar. Twirling Candy scored in such races as the Malibu Stakes (G1), Del Mar Derby (G2T), and Californian Stakes (G2). Then along came Danzing Candy to win the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and San Carlos Stakes (G2) as well as the Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) in Texas.

“We had a great response to Danzing Candy—we got a full book to him,” said Murdock. “He seems to be a stallion who could carry speed around two turns on dirt. We think his kind of race record should ft California very well.”

Danzing Candy has plenty of black type in his female family as well. He is out of the Songandaprayer mare Talkin and Singing whose half brother Better Talk Now won the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T) in 2004 and finished second in the race two years later.

Clark and Murdock are proud of the fact that the Rancho San Miguel stallion roster offers something for everyone. Pedigrees come from a variety of sire lines. Whether breeders are looking for a sprinter or a router, a dirt horse or turf specialist, they can find it in one of the Rancho San Miguel stallions. Te stallion roster has new prospects whose foals haven’t reached the races yet and proven commodities with several crops to race.

Curlin to Mischief is one whose first foals will race next year.

“His pedigree really says it all,” said Murdock. “We’ve had good reception, and he’s got some nice-looking babies.”

Unraced, Curlin to Mischief is by two time Horse of the Year Curlin, who has proved an excellent sire with the likes of champion Stellar Wind. Curlin to Mischief is out of the Tricky Creek mare Leslie’s Lady, making him a half brother to multiple champion Beholder, current top sire Into Mischief, and Mendelssohn, winner of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T), a graded winner in Dubai, and most recently third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).

Northern Causeway’s first foals are 2-year-olds of 2018, and he comes from sire power both top and bottom.

“He’s a son of Giant’s Causeway, and his dam is a half sister to City Zip and Ghostzapper,” said Murdock. “We’re just getting his babies rolling, and he even has a stronger second crop.”

Northern Causeway is out of the winning Silver Deputy mare Getaway Girl. The second dam, stakes winner Baby Zip, was named Kentucky Broodmare of the Year in 2005.

Richard’s Kid earned $2,482,259 and won back-to-back Pacific Classics in 2009-10 and six other stakes. He is a son of Lemon Drop Kid—Tough Broad, by Broad Brush.

“His babies are second crop,” said Murdock.

“He’s got one now, Rickey B, who is three for three. I think Richard’s Kid’s babies are going to get better with distance and age and time. He started 47 times and retired sound.”

Rickey B is just a 2-year-old, and he has already won at Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields, and Fresno.

Rousing Sermon’s first crop of foals are yearlings.

“They are very nice looking,” said Murdock. “Rousing Sermon made a little over $800,000, and he’s a very good-looking horse. I think people tend to forget how good a 2-year-old and 3-year-old he was.”

A California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit—Rousing Again, by Awesome Again, multiple stakes winner Rousing Sermon was voted champion Cal-bred 2-year-old male of 2011. He is Lucky Pulpit’s second- leading earner, behind only Cal-bred superstar California Chrome.

By Horse of the Year Tiznow, Slew’s Tiznow is out of the Slewpy mare Hepatica, a cross that also produced graded winner Slew’s Tizzy. Slew’s Tiznow won two stakes at 3, and he was California’s leading freshman sire of 2015.

“Slew’s Tiznow has really come on lately in the summer and fall,” said Murdock. “He’s had six or seven maiden special weight and allowance winners. They seem to be very versatile, able to run on different surfaces and can sprint and go two turns.”

Four-time stakes winner Tom’s Tribute captured the 2014 Eddie Read Stakes (G1T). Te son of Lion Heart—Halloween Fun, by El Prado, earned $634,880.

“Tom’s Tribute is a stallion we added last year,” said Murdock. “He’s a very good-looking son of Lion Heart. He’s got yearlings now, and they are very impressive. We got quite a few mares to him. He did all his running on the grass, but with Lion Heart there’s no reason they shouldn’t run on the dirt also.”

Typhoon Slew is a graded stakes-placed half brother to Slew’s Tiznow and Slew’s Tizzy by Stormy Atlantic. Injury hampered his racing career, and he’s only been bred to a limited number of mares. His first foals are 2-year-olds.

“He was very precocious and broke his maiden by 10-3⁄4 lengths when he was a 2-year-old,” said Murdock. “What babies we’ve had have been very good-looking. He’s a very good-looking, big, strong horse.”

The pedigree goes back to an outstanding California-bred family that includes world-record setter Double Discount and California Broodmare of the Year General Store.

U S Ranger sires many winners and often ranks high on the list of leading California sires by winners, both general and 2-year-olds. He is by Danzig—My Annette, by Red Ransom, and has sired such stakes winners as Solitary Ranger, Lawn Ranger, and U S Officer.

“He’s got good size for a Danzig and is very good-looking,” said Murdock. “He was undefeated as a 2-year-old in Europe.”

The farm supports the stallions, often with mares owned by the Clarks. Both Murdock and Tom Clark praised the owners of the stallions for supporting the horses as well.

“I think that’s an important part of the strategy,” said Clark. “In California we really need the owner to be all in, supporting the stallion and giving him the best chance possible to be successful.”

The California-bred incentive program has helped Rancho San Miguel, its clients, and the stallions in those efforts. Murdock is giving back to the industry, having joined the board of directors of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. He brings a valuable farm manager’s perspective to issues.

“I think we’ve continued to build on our success over the years,” said Clark. “We’re able to attract high-quality stallions. In a market where the industry has probably shrunk by more than 50% when we started in the business—a very difficult environment—we’ve been able to sustain our growth and our market share and be successful.”

Slew’s Tiznow Has $55,000 Yearling Sales Filly

Pomona, CA (October 18, 2018)-The Slew’s Tiznow 2017 filly out of Grand Advice was knocked down at $55,000 to Tony Metaxas of Larkspur, CA. The co-high selling filly sold as hip 15 and was from the consignment of Checkmate Thoroughbreds, LLC (Adrian Gonzalez), Agent.

The Grand Advice yearling filly is a full sister to El Camino Real Derby (G3) winner ZAKAROFF ($162,016).

Also selling at the Barretts Fall Sale was hip #183 a Slew’s Tiznow-Babes Bridge It filly selling to Andy Mathis, Agent for $29,000. Hip 295 a Slew’s Tiznow-My Cinsation sold to Edward Freeman for $21,000.

First Year Covering Sire Danzing Candy Tops Barretts

Pomona, CA (October 17, 2018)-After 28 years as the final sale at the Barretts Fairplex complex winded its way through the last few hip numbers of the supplemental catalog, agent David Meah bid $75,000 for California-bred La Nez (Hip 313) to top the sale. La Nez is an 11-year-old stakes-winning daughter of Storm Creek—Iza Bay, by Iza a Saros. Adrian Gonzalez’s Checkmate Thoroughbreds sold the mare in foal to Danzing Candy.

“She’s a really good racehorse in foal to Danzing Candy, and we’re a big believer in that stallion,” said Meah, whose wife, Anna, is about to launch their new training stable at Santa Anita Park. “Danzing Candy got a lot of talented mares in his first book, and she could be one of the top mares.”

Danzing Candy a multiple Grade 2 stakes winner of over $700,000, in his eleven starts, stood his first season in 2018 to a full book and was standing for $5,000 as property of a syndicate.

Slew’s Tiznow Son Dominates Maiden Special

Del Mar, CA (August 30, 2018)-Slew’s Tiznow’s three-year-old son Mikes Tiznow captured a Del Mar open maiden special race going wire-to-wire by two and a quarter lengths. Coming off a thirteen month layoff Mikes Tiznow dominated the field of males including progeny from Curlin, Union Rags, Giant’s Causeway, More Than Ready and Speighstown.

Mikes Tiznow “sped to the early lead, angled in and set the pace a bit off the rail then inside on the turn, kicked away in the stretch and won clear under urging”, stopping the timer in 56.2 for the five panel turf race.

Bred in California by Eagle Ridge Racing LLC, Mikes Tiznow was a $34,000 yearling purchase and is out of Babes Bridge It, by Maria’s Mon. He has now earned $47,145 from his two lifetime starts and also picked up an additional $17,000 from the Cal-bred bonus program.

Slew’s Tiznow has had three winners in the last week including Powder who won a six furlong Del Mar allowance race on August 26th.

Castle a Son of Slew’s Tiznow Takes Golden Gate Saturday Feature

Albany, CA (March 4, 2018)-Slew’s Tiznow sired Castle picked up his second lifetime win for his owner breeder Eagle Ridge Racing, LLC by taking the Saturday feature race at Golden Gate Fields.

Bred in California Castle is a full brother to the 2017 graded stakes winner Zakaroff and to Concise Advice who was a $85,000 2017 Barretts Yearling Sales graduate. They are out of Grand Advice a Mr. Greeley broodmare.

After breaking his maiden in 1:09.53 in a Golden Gate Fields maiden special event in his second lifetime start, Castle came back in another six furlong race to just miss the win by a neck. Trying two turns for the first time in his fourth lifetime outing Castle “was well placed off the sizzling pace, bid three wide on the second turn, rallied to take over in mid stretch and held driving.” He stopped the timer in 1:36.8 scoring by nearly two lengths.

Castle now has had four starts with two wins and two second place finishes and has earned $55,080.

Slew’s Tiznow is a record setting, Grade 1 performing, multiple stakes winner by Tiznow–Hepatica, by Slewpy and is standing for $3,000. He was a top twenty California sire in 2017 with three stakes winners,

Career in Three-Day Eventing for The Pamplemousse

Son of Kafwain is at Edgeview Equestrian Center in Idaho

By Eric Mitchell, January 31, 2018

The Pamplemousse and show horse trainer Stevee Keller in Idaho Show horse trainer Stevee Keller didn’t realize a casual conversation about Thoroughbred pedigrees she favored would lead to her owning her first stallion and a rising star in the world of three-day eventing.

Keller had been talking with Adrian Gonzalez, with Checkmate Thoroughbreds, who she attends sales with in California. Gonzalez asked her if she had a preference for particular bloodlines.

“I told him the one that is really up-and-coming are with The Pamplemousse babies,” Keller recalled Jan. 31, referring to the grade 3-winning son of Kafwain who was standing at Rancho San Miguel. “I have, like, four that are on their way to becoming two-star, three-star, almost up to Olympic level, three-day eventing horses. Adrian just laughed.”

It so happened that Gonzalez handles the sale consignments for Rancho San Miguel’s young horses and knew the farm wanted to find a new home for the big gray 12-year-old horse.

After face-to-face meetings with Rancho San Miguel’s general manager Clay Murdock, Keller got an exciting new prospect and Murdock found an ideal second career for The Pamplemousse.

“The interest had slowed on the horse, and we just wanted to find him a good home,” Murdock said. “This is a great win because he is such a nice horse, and Stevee really loves him.”

The Pamplemousse was bred in Kentucky by Fred and Nancy Mitchell’s Clarkland Farm, who sold him as a yearling for $80,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale to Vision Sales in 2007. He was offered again as a 2-year-old through the 2008 Ocala Breeders’ Sales March sale where Alex Solis II Bloodstock picked him up for $150,000.

The colt had a short, but brilliant racing career for the partnership of Bienstock and Winner Stables, Solis, Jeff Strauss, Tom Lenner, Tom Murray, and Skyline Stables. He won once and placed once at 2 and then won both his starts at 3 in the San Rafael Stakes (G3) and Sham Stakes (G3). The Pamplemousse was the morning-line favorite for the 2009 Santa Anita Derby (G1), but was scratched the day of the race due to injury.

“The Pamplemousse had more raw ability than any horse I ever trained,” said trainer Julio Canani when the colt was retired. “Not only was he fast, but he could carry his speed a long way. I really believed he had classic potential. It was a travesty that he never had a chance to prove it.”

Rancho San Miguel launched The Pamplemousse’s stud career. His book size climbed to 65 by 2014, but then began to tail off as his winners failed to perform in black-type stakes. His best performer to date is stakes-placed winner Thermodynamics, who finished second in the $200,000 Melair Stakes. By 2016, The Pamplemousse had covered a total of eight mares.

With Keller, who owns Edgeview Equestrian Center near Eagle, Idaho, The Pamplemousse is entering a whole new world of potential.

               

“A lot of event people are excited he’s here,” Keller said. “You could not find a horse with better conformation to be a jumping horse. He has kind of a short back, almost like a Quarter Horse, but big and tall with a really high neck. That is exactly what you want for a jumping horse. It is cool that he was such a good racehorse as well. He had a high cruising speed on the track and could get long and low. For cross country … it is good to have a horse with a long stride that can get you across the ground because it’s a timed event.”

Keller has been riding The Pamplemousse and took him over his first jumps Jan. 30. Her plan is to first show him off in competition and then later start marketing him as a stallion.

“In the eventing world, stallions need to be performing themselves so he has a record,” she said. “He already has something going for him in that he has babies that are doing well, but a lot of people will want to see him competing and doing it himself. It doesn’t have to be on a super upper level, that’s OK. They just want to see that he does have the talent to jump, and he’s got a good enough mind to do the show world.”

Keller said The Pamplemousse has settled right in.

“He is definitely happy to be back at work,” she said. “The first time I put a saddle on him he was acting all studish and moving around, then I tightened the girth, and he was all business. He stopped moving and was ready to go.”

Climax Stallions Donate a Curlin To Mischief Season to California Fire Victims

December 11, 2017-To help aid backstretch workers affected by the devastating California fires, Climax Stallions is donating a no-guarantee season to California stallion Curlin To Mischief.

“As native Californians, and owners of a filly who was lost but has since been found in the fire, we want to help those who weren’t as fortunate in anyway we can,” said managing director of Climax Stallions, Sean Feld. “This hit too close to home for us.”

Various forms of donations have been collected by industry organizations this week.

“Seeing our industry come together like this in a time of tragedy is truly something special,” noted Feld.

Bidding is available at http://www.thoroughbredlifestyle.com/product/curlin-to-mischief-stallion-season-auction/
Auction ends: December 14, 2017 12:00 pm
Timezone: America/Kentucky/Louisville

Clay Murdock Stalwart of Rancho San Miguel

By Tracy Gantz
Family means everything to Clay Murdock. He and his wife, Dena, have raised five children—three now grown and two still at home—and they already have several grandchildren. But family to Murdock extends further, to the team at Rancho San Miguel, the California farm Murdock has managed for more than 30 years, and to the offspring of the farm’s stallions.

“Every day you’re following horses and seeing where the progeny of the stallions are racing,” said Murdock. “It’s fun for the whole farm.”

Murdock recalls when Slew’s Tiznow hit the exacta earlier this year in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Fields. Slew’s Tiznow, a multiple stakes winner who stands at Rancho San Miguel, is the sire of El Camino Real winner Zakaroff. The stallion also sired More Power to Him, who was elevated from third to second upon a disqualification. Murdock was almost as proud of that as of his children and grandchildren’s accomplishments.

Murdock isn’t used to the limelight, as he runs the California farm for owners Tom and Nancy Clark, raising horses that go off to sales or to the racetrack. Thus, 2017 turned into an unusual year for the farm manager.

First, the Clarks and the entire Rancho San Miguel team threw a huge party for Murdock in April to celebrate his 30 years on the property.

Then Tom Clark nominated him for the Godolphin Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, and Murdock was short-listed as one of three finalists in the Leadership Award—Farm category.

“He’s incredibly dedicated to the farm, the clients, and the horses on the farm,” said Clark. “He’s loyal and a very knowledgeable horseman.”

By qualifying as a Godolphin finalist, Murdock traveled to Lexington in October for an interview process, the awards ceremony luncheon, and a day of racing at Keeneland. The awards launched in 2016 as a partnership of Godolphin, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and The Jockey Club. The idea is to honor those who work in the industry caring for the horses, from their conception and foaling on through their racing careers.

Larry McGinnis, the stallion manager of WinStar Farm, ultimately won in Murdock’s category, but as a runner-up, Murdock received $2,500, with that same amount going to Rancho San Miguel. More than the monetary award, however, Murdock appreciated the entire experience.

“I felt very honored, and Godolphin does everything first class,” said Murdock. “We had the opportunity to go out to Jonabell Farm (Darley, one of Sheikh Mohammed’s U.S. operations) and Calumet Farm, too. I’m going to encourage people out in California to nominate more to those awards.”

Murdock knows that, due to geography, the racing industry in California can be an island. But he sees the California-bred incentive program as a way to counteract any negatives involved with such an island state.

“We’re trying to use the Cal- bred program and get stallions in here that could give breeders opportunities,” said Murdock.

“We’re pretty diversified—we have grass stallions, dirt stallions, sprinters, and different types.”

Rancho San Miguel, which sits near the town of the same name, advertises nine stallions for a variety of clients and for the farm itself. Marino Marini, now 17, is the farm’s 10th stallion, but due to his age doesn’t breed as much as the younger whippersnappers.

Most recently Danzing Candy went to stud at Rancho San Miguel. The son of Twirling Candy—Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer, won this year’s San Carlos Stakes (G2) and Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) while trained by Bob Baffert. Ted Aroney’s Halo Farms bred Danzing Candy and raced the earner of $700,930 with Jim and Dianne Bashor.

“I think that’s a testament to Clay and the reputation that he’s built for our ranch,” said Clark about getting Danzing Candy at the farm as the property of a syndicate.

Richard’s Kid, whose first foals are 2-year-olds this year, moved to Rancho San Miguel for the 2018 breeding season. By Lemon Drop Kid—Tough Broad, by Broad Brush, Richard’s Kid won the Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) twice at Del Mar and earned a total of $2,482,259.

U S Ranger, also at San Miguel, ranks high on many California sire lists, and his runners include 2017 stakes winner U S Officer. U S Ranger is a multiple Irish highweight son of Danzig—My Annette, by Red Ransom.

Along with Slew’s Tiznow (Tiznow—Hepatica, by Slewpy), Rancho San Miguel stands multiple stakes winner Northern Causeway (Giant’s Causeway—Getaway Girl, by Silver Deputy) and Slew’s Tiznow’s half brother Typhoon Slew (by Stormy Atlantic). The first foals by Northern Causeway and Typhoon Slew are yearlings of 2017.

This year marked the arrival of the first foals by grade 1 winner Tom’s Tribute (Lion Heart—Halloween Fun, by El Prado), multiple stakes winner Rousing Sermon (Lucky Pulpit—Rousing Again, by Awesome Again), and unraced Curlin to Mischief (Curlin—Leslie’s Lady, by Tricky Creek), a half brother to multiple champion Beholder, top sire Into Mischief, and Mendelssohn, winner of the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T).

Marino Marini raced in this country for the farm a few years after the Clarks had purchased the property from Dr. William Marano. A $1.8 million Keeneland yearling, Marino Marini (Storm Cat—Halo America, by Waquoit) won a stakes in Ireland. In the U.S., he placed in several graded stakes, including the 2003 Malibu Stakes (G1).

Marino Marini’s foals include $334,900-earner Starlight Magic and $411,668-earner Sweet Marini, who gave the stallion back-to-back winners of the Fleet Treat Stakes in 2012-13.

While Murdock as farm manager oversees 28 employees, he remains very involved in booking mares to the stallions, one of the many aspects of his job that he enjoys.

“I love closing the deal and booking mares to stallions,” said Murdock. “I like talking to people and helping them out.”

In many cases that begins a friendly business relationship, as Murdock sees the resultant foals and often sends photos to the clients as the young horses grow.

Murdock didn’t start out on the breeding side of the business, however. Now 57, he grew up in Rexburg, Idaho, where his father, Cal, trained horses part-time while holding down a full-time job. Murdock’s mother, Karen, was very supportive of both Cal’s training operation and Clay’s subsequent equine career. His father still lives in southeastern Idaho.

“It’s in a very beautiful part of the state,” said Murdock. “We’re right on the Wyoming border. I could see the Grand Tetons outside of our house. Yellowstone is about 70-80 miles from us. It’s very cold, with a lot of snow, but very beautiful.”

Cal usually times his visits to his son for the winter so that he can avoid some of the colder weather. He enjoys helping his son check on the horses.

Murdock’s grandparents were potato farmers—”I worked a lot of potato harvests,” Clay said—and his father was raised in Idaho. Clay’s grandparents and great- grandparents farmed with workhorses, and so Cal grew up with horses.

“My dad was instrumental to me as a young man,” said Murdock. “He taught me how to ride and break horses. My dad had a passion for horses. Then he developed a passion for racing.”

The Murdocks raced Quarter Horses, primarily on the bush tracks of Montana and Idaho.

“I was probably 10 or 11 years old when I was breaking my first horses,” said Clay. “I was galloping horses by age 12 and riding races at 12 or 13. We couldn’t ride at the recognized tracks ’til we were 16.”

Clay helped his dad with the horses during the summers. Once he turned 16, he rode in races for a few years and was beginning to segue into training. Clay decided he wanted a full-time career in the racing industry, something difficult to do in Idaho at the time. He decided to move to Northern California in the early 1980s, taking a couple of Quarter Horses to Bay Meadows.

“I was getting taller, so I knew I wasn’t going to be a jockey and was kind of set on training horses,” he said.

The Quarter Horse circuit moved from Bay Meadows in the winter and spring to Los Alamitos in Southern California for the rest of the year.

Murdock worked as an assistant to Quarter Horse trainer Glen Walker, and he also galloped horses for Quarter Horse jockey John Creager.

“Back then in the Quarter Horse world, a jockey would hire one or two exercise riders to help their trainers gallop horses,” said Murdock.

Creager rode for Russell Harris, a major Quarter Horse trainer whose charges included multiple champions Florentine and Prissy Fein. Harris eventually asked Murdock to head up his satellite training facility in Southern California near Lake Elsinore.

After about six years working for Harris, while in his late 20s, Murdock received the chance to work for Marano at Rancho San Miguel. The farm was then primarily a Thoroughbred training facility and about equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco just off the 101 freeway, in an area that was attracting horse farms and wineries. Fred Sahadi moved his Cardiff Stud Farm from the Santa Ynez Valley to nearby Creston in 1986, standing Flying Paster and Desert Wine there.

“With all the wine tasting now, Paso Robles, which is nearby, has become a destination,” said Murdock. “We’re very strategically located, and we have a great climate here. We’re close enough to the coast that in the summer we get the ocean breeze.”

When Murdock began at Rancho San Miguel, the training track was just being finished. He transitioned to Thoroughbreds, taking in lay-ups for trainers as well as breaking and starting young horses.

Brent Sumja trained horses at the Northern California tracks for Rancho San Miguel. Those runners included Sudden Hush, a California-bred son of Stop the Music who finished second in the 1992 Del Mar Futurity (G2) and competed in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

“That was the first Breeders’ Cup I went to,” said Murdock. “He was a neat horse that I always really liked.”

Sumja also trained for Tom Clark, who had grown up on a farm in Pennsylvania and began going to the races at a young age. Clark became an investment banker and was living in California when he bought his first racehorse in 1984.

“I developed a relationship with Rancho San Miguel soon after that because I used the ranch as a lay-up facility and a place to break my yearlings,” said Clark.

When Marano decided he wanted to sell Rancho San Miguel, the Clarks bought it in 2000.

“The Clarks wanted to focus on breeding,” said Murdock. “That’s when we built the stallion barn and the foaling barn, and it really took off.”

Murdock at this time of year oversees the care of about 300-350 horses on the 220-acre property. He said the population swells to more than 400 during the breeding season and they foal about 120-130 mares annually. With that many horses the Clarks and Murdock keep a veterinarian, Dr. Stacy Potter, on staff.

The farm’s location is also fortuitous for water supply, always a critical consideration for a California farm, especially with recent drought conditions.

“We’re in a pretty good aquifer, and we have four wells,” said Murdock. “We have several grass pastures. Maintaining and keeping the grass fields is very important to us here.”

Murdock concentrates on giving horses the best start that he can, something the Clarks and Rancho San Miguel clients appreciate.

“He’s the best partner I’ve ever had in any business venture I’ve been involved in,” said Clark. “I’d trust him with my last nickel, and I think of him as a friend and a colleague as well as someone who works for me.”
This story first appeared in the Dec. 9 edition of BloodHorse Magazine. To purchase a copy, please visit Shop.BloodHorse.com

 

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