Five Wins for Desert Steel

Desert Steel, a Harris Farms bred five-year-old mare, most recently had hit the board in four straight Cal-bred stakes races, culminating with a runner-up effort over this course in the March 18 Irish O’Brien S.

Sent off at 6-1 in this $75,852 allowance race, the gray mare by Desert Code out of the stakes placed Lujien Lujien (Cozzene) was outfooted for the early lead, but was a chasing fourth after a quarter in :21.68 and had pulled herself to the lead after a half in :43.85 before just outbattling a stubborn Watch this Cat (Eskendereya) to win by a head.

Desert Steel is a half-sister to stakes winner Pretty Cozzy (Broken Vow $218,760). Her dam produced a full-brother to the winner this year.

Desert Steel was a $40,000 Barretts yearling sale product before she became a $130,000 March Select Sale graduate.

With an overall record of five wins from nineteen starts and three seconds and thirds she has earned $342,264 for the ownership of Alice Bamford, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners & Michael House.

Smiling Tiger Colt Impressive in Debut Win

Pleasanton, CA (June 24, 2017)-Jacks Masterpiece made an impressive debut in taking a maiden special weights race by four plus lengths at the Oak Tree at Pleasanton meet; giving Smiling Tiger his first winner by stopping the clock in 58.47.

The bay son of Smiling Tiger is out of the $362,553 stakes winning Marty’s Zee, by Candi’s Gold and he was bred by Martin W. Bach.

Running under the ownership of Martin W. Bach, Lynn Gitomer and Daniel Weiner the colt earned $20,280 for the win plus the Cal-bred bonus of $10,000. Jacks Masterpiece was trained for his winning journey by William E. Morey.

Smiling Tiger was campaigned by Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz and trained by Jeff Bonde to nine wins, two seconds and eight thirds from 23 lifetime starts. Winning three Grade One events and placing twice in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Smiling Tiger earned $1,480,704.

With his first crop of 72 foals racing this year, Smiling Tiger has also sired the twice placed Spiced Perfection an earner of $17,280 and the placed filly Miss Shirley C.

Smiling Tiger stood for $4,000 live foal at Harris Farms during the 2017 breeding season.

California Thoroughbred June 2017 Standout Employee Per Antonsen

By Emily Shields/Photos by Lisa Torres
The adage “good help is hard to find” does not apply to Per Antonsen, trainer at Harris Farms in Coalinga for the last 36 years. He oversees the breaking, training, and rehab of all the horses coming out of the Harris program, which means he is the man who started such California-bred superstars as Tiznow and California Chrome. His wealth of knowledge is second to none, and his experience makes him an invaluable member of the team.

Antonsen hails from Denmark, where he served his apprenticeship as a jockey. “I rode in over one hundred races,” he said. He then immigrated to the United States to work at the famed El Peco Ranch, which was home to horses such as Hill Rise and J.O. Tobin. After nine years there Antonsen discovered that Harris Farms needed a trainer.

“I’ve been here ever since,” said Antonsen, who began training for John Harris’ sprawling operation in 1981. “At the time they were just getting started building the training barn and the new racetrack. I pretty much helped get the whole thing started and put up the new training barn. There were no more than 45 horses at the time.”

The farm now sports three training barns and keeps 50 horses in training year round, with many more at various California racetracks.

“I break close to 80 young horses every year,” Antonsen said, “and there are always about 25 layups getting ready to go back to the track at any time.”

He has a busy schedule, with training beginning at 5 in the morning, just as it would on the racetrack.

“The riders arrive at 6, and we do 10 sets of five horses each day. I like when the young horses go out together. They get used to training on both sides and learn all the basic things they need, like going inside and outside horses and switching leads. They learn breezing before they go to a real racetrack.”

Before a rider ever gets up, Antonsen starts the yearlings at around 18 months of age and, “depending on their disposition,” trains them for 45 to 60 days.

“I like a lot of groundwork,” he said, “such as driving with long reins. We introduce them to the racetrack in a little group with a jog and a slow canter, and then I turn them back out again to let them mature and grow up. That way, I get a little feeling about if they’re precocious or not. Those come back in around Christmastime. But we don’t push them; a horse will tell us if they’re ready or not.”

The two best horses to emerge from Antonsen’s training program were Cal-breds Tiznow and California Chrome. Hall of Famer Tiznow won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in both 2000 and 2001 en route to earning $6,427,830 while California Chrome took the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness Stakes (G1), and Dubai World Cup (G1) on his way to a staggering $14,752,650 in earnings.

“Tiznow was a pretty good guy to break in his young days— he didn’t give us too much trouble—and Chrome was always good,” said Antonsen. “He came in late November and stayed in training the whole time. He always seemed precocious and was just a very smart horse right from the beginning. He went around the racetrack the first day like he’d been there before. Tiznow was more kicked back, not quite that precocious early on, just a big old happy horse that turned out to be a heck of a racehorse.”

Antonsen’s favorite, however, is Unzip Me, a Cal-bred multiple stakes winner Antonsen owned in partnership with Harris, Martin Jones, and Donald Valpredo.

“She was very special to me, and we had lots of fun with her,” Antonsen said of the $959,228 earner who ran third in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G2T). “I’ve got her 2-year-old in training right now who looks very good.”

Unusual White Colt From Lucky Pulpit’s Last Crop Born in New York

John Norton Photography

Gansevoort, New York—An unusually marked, mostly white colt from the last crop of California Chrome’s sire Lucky Pulpit was foaled on May 19 at Stone Bridge Farm in New York in ongoing fulfillment of a dream sparked in owner/breeder Gary Tolchin when he attended races with his father as a youth.

The colt was delivered by the white mare, Passionforfashion, who Tolchin acquired privately last year after a lengthy search for a white Thoroughbred.

“I always wanted a white horse after I saw one at Aqueduct with my father, Sam Tolchin, when I was growing up. My goal is to continue breeding white horses,” Tolchin said, adding that he intends to keep the newborn colt and eventually place him in training for racing.

Rick Bailey, registrar of The Jockey Club, said it is too soon to determine what color the colt officially will be given when registered. His coloring is similar, although a bit more splashed with chestnut, to that of Passionforfashion’s dam, the registered white Trust N Luck mare Turf Club, who also had liberal chestnut markings.

Tolchin, who is based in New Jersey and is active in the New York and Kentucky breeding programs, has owned or co-owned many prominent runners, including champion Big Brown, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

After an unsuccessful attempt to buy another white mare at public auction, Tolchin fortuitously found Passionforfashion through social media. She was located by one of his agents, bloodstock and media consultant Michele MacDonald, in a Facebook posting by trainer Doug O’Neill’s operations manager, Sharla Rae Sanders, and soon purchased from previous owners.

Since Passionforfashion, a daughter of Unbridled’s Song’s multiple graded stakes-winning son Old Fashioned, was located in California and the 2016 breeding season was coming to a close, MacDonald recommended she be bred to Lucky Pulpit, who stood at Harris Farms. The cross of the Pulpit and Unbridled lines is the same general cross that produced leading sire Tapit.

Tolchin arranged the mating with Lucky Pulpit, California’s leading sire in 2016 and sire of record-setting, two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome. After Passionforfashion was safely in foal, he shipped her to Stone Bridge Farm.

The colt’s birth came three months after Lucky Pulpit died of an apparent heart attack when covering his first mare of the 2017 season.

“We think he’s great,” Stone Bridge Farm manager Heidi Fischer said of the colt, who has a sturdy frame and good bone.

Thoroughbreds with markings similar to the colt’s color pattern are rare, but several have become sensations while racing in Japan. The white Sunday Silence mare Shirayukihime produced multiple stakes winner Yukichan, a white filly by Kurofune, and fan favorites Marble Cake and Buchiko, both chestnut-spotted, registered white fillies by King Kamehameha who became popular multiple winners for owner/breeder Makoto Kaneko.

“I was fascinated when I saw the white horse with my father, and I’ve always liked them and gray horses, which seem to be lucky,” said Tolchin. “This all fell into place when Michele saw Passionforfashion on Facebook, and I said ‘let’s do it’ with the mating to Lucky Pulpit. I want to thank the people at Harris Farms, who were so helpful, and Stone Bridge Farm, which does such a great job.

“Passionforfashion is a beautiful mare and her colt is so distinctive and unusual. They are more than dreams come true.”

Lucky Pulpit Juvenile Filly Wins Debut

ARCADIA, Calif. (May 25, 2017) — Two-year-old Saudi Chroma won at first asking on Thursday in a maiden special weight race at Santa Anita.

The Lucky Pulpit filly, out of the  Mr. Greeley mare Nine to Five Lady, was bred by Cole Ranch, is owned by Zedan Racing Stables and trained by Doug O’Neill.

The filly, named Californiabyanose at the time, was a buyback at last year’s Northern California Yearling Sale, then was sold for $42,000 at the Barretts Fall Sale and resold this year at Barretts March for $360,000.

Saudi Chroma ran the 4 1/2 furlongs in :52.08 and won by 3 1/4 lengths at odds of 5-2 in a field of seven.

Horses Available for Adoption

Name YOB-sex Sire-Dam Forms More Info
Bay Street 2009 gelding Lucky Pulpit-Spanish Bay Photo-pedigree  

Harris Farms Thoroughbred Rewards Program

Harris Farms Adoption Program Graduates
Desperate Times and Freedom Quest enjoying success as jumpers in the show world

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Harris Farms Seen at the Farm

Seen at the farm in the past few weeks are:

April 13, 2017-We were happy to have the owners of Smiling Tiger visit the farm yesterday along with some friends. We look forward to having them back soon.


Andrea Thatcher and her father, Warren Thatcher with Andrea’s drawing of Horse of the Year California Chrome.

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Joe and Brandi Becerra touring the farm on their one year anniversary.

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California Chrome’s Breeders/Owners Visit Harris Farms

May 11, 2014-Steve and Carolyn Coburn, the breeders and owners of California Chrome, with John and Carol Harris visited Harris Farms.

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Jerry Hawthorne, John Harris and Gary Gray visiting the farm on April 8.

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California Chrome’s Breeders/Owners Visit Harris Farms

February 12, 2014-Steve and Carolyn Coburn, Perry and Denise Martin the breeders and owners of California Chrome visited Harris Farms.

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Team Unusual Heat Visits Harris Farms

January 8, 2014-Madeline and Harris Auerbach, Team Unusual Heat, visited Harris Farms this past Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Charles Cooke Visits Harris Farms

November 19, 2013-National Review columnist Charles Cooke was a recent visitor to Harris Farms– shown here left to right Dave McGlothlin, Charles Cooke, John Harris, William Bourdeau and Steve Ozuna.

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Farmers from England as part of Bay Farm Tours visit Harris Farms Horse Division while touring agriculture related industries in California October 9th.

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September 18, 2013-Milas and Diana Russell visiting Thorn Song

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July 11, 2013-John Harris, David McGlothlin, Ulises Olquin , Donald Valpredo, Per Antonsen and Dr. Jeanne Bowers-Lepore visit the Farm.

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June 26, 2013-Dr Craig Shoemaker and Ken West from Boeheinger-Ingelheim  are seen here with Dave McGlothlin during a recent visit at Harris Farms. They were here to introduce a new equine vaccine.

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Ron Trentler/ Robomar Racing Stable came by the farm today to check on his broodmare Moonlight Tizzy and her 2013 Giacomo Filly

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Harris, Robin, Allison and Jamie Auerbach visit the farm June 20, 2013

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Terry Knight and Dru Rucker visit Harris Farms and the River Ranch on June 17, 2013.

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Trainer Sean McCarthy, John Harris, and Ron Beegle visiting Harris Farms June 5, 2013.

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Madeline Auerbach and Harris Auerbach visiting Gervinho.

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A recent visitor to Harris Farms was Catherine Parke, who operates Valkyre Stud in Kentucky.  She sold Harris Farms’ yearling by Unusual Heat-Freedom Dance, by Moscow Ballet at last year’s Keeneland September Sale for $400,000.  She is  shown here with resident Harris Farms vet,  Dr. Jeanne Bowers.

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Harris Auerbach, Madeline Auerbach, David McGlothlin,  Catherine Parke, Dr. Mike Tannyhill and Sandy McGlothlin.

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Don Valpredo, Michael Valpredo, John Harris and Doug Burge.

Earlier editions of seen at the farm