Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AUGUSTIN STABLE: An Original American Success Story

An ‘ANGEL continues the “bridge” of American pop culture to a vibrant turf legacy. George Strawbridge, Jr., grandson of former Campbell’s Soup owner Dr.John Thompson Dorrance, has cultivated a breeding/racing operation that is building a Hall of Fame resume in both steeplechase and flat racing.

FUGITIVE ANGEL won the G.III Pin Oak Valley View Stakes at Keeneland on Friday, October 22. The manner in which she won the race suggests this was but the first of many additional graded stakes successes. If she develops during her four-year-old campaign as she has in an undefeated sophomore season, FUGITIVE ANGEL could be running in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

It would not be unusual to see George Strawbridge, Jr., owner of FUGITIVE ANGEL and Augustin Stable, in the winner’s circle in the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Through patient, contrarian thinking he is quietly and thoughtfully building a breeding/racing empire that rivals the very best America has to offer. As of today, Augustin Stable led the Keeneland fall meeting owner standings with five wins.

Last year at Santa Anita INFORMED DECISION, a $320,000 juvenile purchase in 2007, defeated defending Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner VENTURA. In the process, she ran her synthetic record to seven-for-seven and earned the crown as Champion Female Sprinter. This year, the daughter of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner MONARCHOS has not been as unbeatable on synthetics. With an overall record of 7-3-0-3, two G.III wins and two G.I placings, many owners would consider 2010 a successful campaign. INFORMED DECISION set the bar for herself much higher because of her stellar 2009 season.

It appears she is losing interest in racing at age five, losing contact early in each of her last two races and splitting decisions with hard-knocking but by no means G.I quality DUBAI MAJESTY. INFORMED DECISION is running only in spots and losing to nice fillies and mares she’d have horrified last year. It matters not to me. INFORMED DECISION has done enough on the track to qualify for nearly any top stallion Strawbridge wishes to mate her with. She figures to be an important part of the Augustin breeding and racing empire for years to come. I for one will eagerly anticipate her grey offspring in a few years.

Speaking of important parts of the Augustin homebred program, FUGITIVE ANGEL and George Strawbridge, Jr., have something in common. Both equine and human possess bloodlines that virtually guaranteed success in their professions.

FUGITIVE ANGEL is out of unraced broodmare SCREENING (by UNBRIDLED). Daughter and dam trace back to what was probably one of Strawbridge’s first broodmares, G.I-NZ Wellington Oaks winner PORT ROYAL. PORT ROYAL’s mating to T V COMMERCIAL, a descendent of the potent NEARCO/NASRULLAH line, resulted in T.V. AD. Strawbridge infused that three time winner with the stamina of Belmont Stakes winner CAVEAT. The result was RATINGS, winner of the Diana (then-G.II) and Sheepshead Bay (then-G.III).

The genes her owner apparently desired in a broodmare was being cultivated. However, the method wasn’t fully realized. RATINGS was still inbred, a breeding tool designed to infuse brilliance into a racehorse but also maligned as the reason thoroughbreds today are known for fragility and early retirement, if not catastrophe. RATINGS, unlike many of today’s speed-crazy thoroughbreds, had inbreeding to stamina influences RIBOT 4 x 4, MAHMOUD 4 x 5, and NASRULLAH, TENERANI (ITA), AND ROMANELLA (ITA) 5 X 5.

As a result, RATINGS produced some long-fused runners. In fact, two of them became hurdlers. The best racing progeny (jump or flat) was G.III Sands Point winner RECORDING, by DANZIG. RECORDING was the first of four fillies out of RATINGS and was paired initially with UNBRIDLED. That son of FAPPIANO was inbred to DR. FAGER’s mare ASPIDISTRA 4 X 4 along with three others to the fifth generation. The resulting foal was unraced SCREENING, inbred to NATIVE DANCER 5 X 5 as well as ASPIDISTRA 5 x 5 through UNBRIDLED. SCREENING is ½ sister to stakes winner and dual graded stakes placed SMART BID (SMART STRIKE) and ¾ sister to SW/SP DEAL MAKING (EMPIRE MAKER).

FUGITIVE ANGEL is the culmination of careful planning and a measure of good old fashioned breeding luck. She is a rare, complete outcross through the fifth generation.

The same can be said for Augustin Stable’s RAINBOW VIEW, by DYNAFORMER, out of the blue hen of the Augustin operation, G.I winner NO MATTER WHAT (by NUREYEV, also dropped G.I JUST AS WELL and G.III WINTER VIEW). All RAINBOW VIEW has done is win the prestigious Fillies Mile (GB-G.I) and two other graded stakes for an undefeated season in England at two, captured the Matron S. (GB-G.1) and placed in three other G.I’s in Great Britain and Canada at three, and took the Gallorette (G.III) along with a separate G.II placing at four. Unfortunately, she sustained a tendon injury prior to the Beverly D. (G.I) in August. While she was “sound” despite the inflammation according to trainer Jonathan Sheppard, he obviously did not want to chance running her at less than optimal health. Sheppard and Strawbridge are on the same page for the future of RAINBOW VIEW and the entire Augustin Stable.

While RAINBOW VIEW may or may not appear under silks again, it appears as if FUGITIVE ANGEL is cycling up to her peak performances with maturity. Both fillies, along with their accomplished stable mates, bring tremendous value to an already potent and successful broodmare band for the Augustin Stable.

The mastermind of the operation is Strawbridge, produced by the mating of Margaret “Peggy” Dorrance, heir to a portion of her father’s Campbell’s Soup ownership, and stockbroker George Strawbridge, Sr. From his mother’s side came money, intelligence, and the understanding of how to lead a major American company. The elder George Strawbridge gave his son business sense, intelligence, and guile providing the contrarian thinking that takes successful stockbrokers on fruitful paths not yet traveled. The same qualities have provided Augustin Stable a niche in the American racing game, on both flat and jump courses.

Unlike the majority of American-based breeding/racing operations, Strawbridge has campaigned horses successfully at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic. A few of his noteworthy wins across the pond have come with TREIZIEME in the 1981 Grand Criterium (Fr-G.I) and LUCARNO in the ’07 St. Leger Stakes (GB-G.I). In two weeks, his focus will be on Churchill Downs and the Breeders’ Cup weekend of racing. INFORMED DECISION will contest the Filly & Mare Sprint on her least preferred dirt surface; FOREVER TOGETHER, the ’08 Filly & Mare Turf winner will attempt to reclaim her crown; FANTASIA is slated to race on the undercard in the G.III Cardinal on turf. FUGITIVE ANGEL is tentatively scheduled for the Mrs. Revere (G.II) at Churchill Downs on November 20.

Together these supremely talented fillies and mares carry on a list of nationally and internationally successful Augustin Stable distaffers to take note of on the track today, but more importantly in the years to follow for their second careers.


Brian Appleton said...

Wow, great post Rob, I loved this one! I'll be rooting for Informed Decision in the Filly and Mare Sprint but I didn't know all that about Strawbridge. He sounds like an extremely smart breeder/owner who knows what he's doing with his best bloodlines.

Amateurcapper said...


You're always so kind with the comments. I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

As for INFORMED DECISION, she's just not interested...go back and look at the TCA...she dropped back to last into the lane, looked like she'd finish there, then she took hold. Last year she was more tactical, especially in the BC F&M Sprint to get first run on VENTURA. This year, especially her last two starts, she's been too far back for me to think she'll make a dent in the F&M Sprint defense.

I will add, it's honorable for Strawbridge and Sheppard to run her considering how subpar her year has been vs. last year's results. Sort of makes me wish they owned/trained RACHEL...she should have been part of this fantastic weekend.

I'll look forward to your posts leading into the extravaganza!