K. B. Sareen and Om

K. B. Sareen visiting Om at Harris Farms

Courtesy of CTBA.com By Emily Shields Coalinga CA June 19, 2020 – Kulbhushan Sareen—known to all as K. B. —never would have guessed he would end up breeding horses. In fact, his route to California from his boyhood in Calcutta was so circuitous that it’s a surprise he is in the sport at all. But through all of his global travels, a love of horse racing has endured.

“It was destiny,” Sareen said.

After his father passed away when he was an infant, Sareen grew up in a poor family led by a single mother with five children.

“My childhood wasn’t very pleasant,” Sareen admitted, “and I never had any money on me.”

But he became good at scraping together 40 rupees to take to the Royal Calcutta Turf Club on Saturdays, earning enough back with his wagering selections to buy a week of room and board. “I was pretty lucky,” he said.

He eventually made enough to go to university, achieving a bachelor’s degree in four years. He still used his racetrack winnings to “pay for my entertainment and to take girls out to dinner.”

But a degree couldn’t secure him a job in India. Sareen went to Iran to work for Toshiba International, but was thrown out in 1979 by the Islamic Republic as it removed foreigners from the country.

“Instead of going home to India, I bought a one-way ticket to America,” he said.

Sareen congratulates jockey Gary Stevens for the winning ride on Om in the Del Mar Derby

In December 1980, Sareen arrived in America on a tourist visa and was “determined to make it.” He started by washing dishes in Los Angeles, then moved up through the ranks to busboy, waiter, and bartender. He couldn’t believe his fortune, making $300 in tips in a single night.

“I thought this was the ultimate, but it wasn’t why I came to America,” he said. “I became an insurance salesman and made my own success.”

Sareen became friends with Selwyn Touber, who owned a Thoroughbred mare with little value.

“I asked him why he didn’t just breed her,” Sareen said. “We became partners.”

The winning True Knight mare, Never Bend True, produced an Expressman filly for them in 1991. That became Noori, who broke her maiden in her debut by 61⁄2 lengths for the partners and trainer Dan Hendricks. She ultimately won four of 25 starts and earned $27,334.

From there Sareen dabbled in the game.

“I would buy this or that, but nothing was very serious,” he said.

Enter Om. By Munnings out of the Tabasco Cat mare Rare Cat, Om was a $125,000 purchase at the 2014 Barretts March select 2-year-old sale. The notoriously hot-tempered colt broke his maiden by 7 1⁄4 lengths in his second start at odds of 22-1, handing 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah what would be the first of only two defeats.

The Sareen family’s pride and joy, Om, following his victory in the grade 2 Del Mar Derby

Om went on to be a multiple graded stakes winner of $1,355,082 and ran second in the Breeders’ Cup twice.

Om was best in the summer and fall of 2015, winning the $250,000 Del Mar Derby (G2T) at Del Mar and the $200,750 Twilight Derby (G2T) at Santa Anita. Those memories are still clear to Sareen, whose son, United States Major Taj Sareen, brought his whole squadron into the winner’s circle for the Del Mar Derby.

“It was a lot of fun,” Sareen said. “The whole family was there, and the whole squadron.”

But Sareen’s personal life took a turn when his son was killed in an F-18 crash near London while deployed for the third time. He was 34. Just three days later Om won the Twilight Derby.

“My son had asked me to give him Om,” Sareen said. “I had done it orally, but we hadn’t done any transfers yet when he was deployed. He was a family favorite, so I could never sell him or give him away to anyone.”

Om ran second by a nose in the $920,000 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) in 2016. He also finished second in the same race last year after being transferred from the Hendricks barn to that of trainer Peter Miller. Om retired with seven wins, seven seconds, and six thirds in 32 starts. He now stands stud at Harris Farms in Coalinga.

Sareen is planning on supporting Om with three current broodmares and one mare on the track. He has an Uncle Mo mare named Savera being bred to him this spring, and his Bernstein mare Nice Meidel is currently at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky with a Liam’s Map colt, after producing a Bayern colt last year. She will return to California to visit Om next season. Sareen claimed the winning Stormy Atlantic mare Classy Atlantic out of a Feb. 28 race at Santa Anita solely because she nicks well with Om.

“I’ll continue to race her this year, then send her to Om when she retires,” Sareen said.

Sareen joked that his wife has put a stop on him adding more horses to the band— “I’m 77 and if something happened to me, she wouldn’t be able to handle it.” But he does have two horses currently on the track. One of them is four-time winner Major Cabbie, named after his beloved son.
I’ve gone deeper into (horse racing) than I ever thought I would like to, but it’s been exciting. – K. B. Sareen

The $260,000 juvenile purchase broke his maiden in his second start in 2017, and went on to add three allowance optional claiming races. He was fifth in the $600,000 Clark Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs in November, and has been working at Oaklawn Park for his return to the races. The other runner is two-time winner Grand Meister, a son of Bodemeister who was last seen winning at Turfway Park in December.

“I’ve gone deeper into it than I ever thought I would like to,” Sareen said, “but it’s been exciting.”

And with Om’s first foals slated to be born in 2021, it can only get more exhilarating.

Santa Anita Daily Double for Harris Farms-sired Runners

Arcadia, CA (June 13, 2020) – Reign of Fire, the 2-year-old daughter of Vronsky and Smiling Annie, the 5-year-old daughter of Smiling Tiger opened today’s card at Santa Anita with a Harris Farms-sired daily double.

Reign of Fire earned her maiden special weight victory over four and one-half furlongs on the main track with some help from the stewards. She pressed the pace and reached the wire best of all but one. The first under the line was disqualified for an midstretch incident not involcing Reign of Fire and she was moved up to the win.

Bred by Dr. Dorothee Kieckhefer, Lee Evans, and Sandy Evens, she is out of the Kafwain mare, Your Special Day. Racing for LeucadiaLand Stables, LLC, she is trained by Blake Heap.

Smiling Annie needed no help to earn her victory in the 2nd race. She popped out of the gate going five and one-half furlongs over the firm turf course and never looked back, claiming her victory by three and one-half lengths.

Smiling Annie races for her breeders, Al and Saundra Kirkwood and she is trained by Mark Glatt. She is out of the Go for Gin mare, Bootleg Annie.

Adoption Stories: Spot the Diplomat

Coalinga, CA (June 13, 2020) – Periodically, we will spotlight Thoroughbred Aftercare stories about horses with connections past and present to Harris Farms. John Harris is a passionate advocate of the racing industry finding caring homes for horses after their racing careers are over. Spot the Diplomat was bred and raced for Harris Farms early in his career. While he was not owned by Harris Farms at the end of his racing career, his aftercare story is a great place to begin this series.

Reprinted here courtesy of the Los Angeles Times:

Old Racing Horse is a Winner with Autistic Boys
By BILL DWYRE
(November, 29, 2010) – In horse racing terms, Grant and Greta Hays have had a rough trip. They have two young children, both severely autistic.

“After we had Jack, we wanted to have another child,” Grant Hays says. “We thought the odds of having a second with autism were really low.”

Jack is 6, Dylan 2. Neither speaks, except on rare spontaneous occasions. According to their father, they are antisocial kids, which is not unusual with autistic children. Grant says it creates a life of stress and tension, and cites research that says something like 85% of parents with autistic children get divorced.

The marriage of Grant and Greta apparently is going in the other direction. This is the story of how and why. It is also the story of a big, old gelded thoroughbred named Spot the Diplomat, who, through a series of coincidental circumstances, has carried this family to its own winner’s circle.

Spot the Diplomat had 41 races in a decent but unspectacular career. He won seven, was in the money in 14 more and totaled $342,231 in purses. He even ran in a couple of graded races, including the Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 27, 2008.

But Spot will not likely make the Hall of Fame, at least not for his on-track performance. In his four-year career, he was ridden by 11 jockeys and ran in claiming races 18 of his last 20 starts.

He was owned most recently by Summit Racing, of which Bob Ike, nationally known handicapper and columnist, is a partner.

After two strong races this spring for Summit, Spot fractured a sesamoid in a workout and his racing career, but not his life, was over. While he healed on a nearby farm, Ike and his partners started thinking about a permanent home for him.

Ike occasionally filled in on one of the Sunday morning racing shows on AM 830, where Grant Hays was a producer. Hays knew lots about radio, but little about racing. But he, like an entire nation, had been captivated by the Zenyatta story and had started to pay attention.

Last spring, Hays took his family to a horse ranch in Texas run by author Rupert Isaacson, whose book on autistic children interacting with animals, “The Horse Boy,” was made into a movie. The Hays family spent time around animals and began to see the positives of interaction that Isaacson wrote about.

“Jack speaks no words,” Grant Hays says, “but we got off the plane and he turned to me and said, ‘Texas.’ I was stunned.”

The family stress level decreased dramatically there, but went right back to normal when they returned to Los Angeles. Hays asked another of the radio hosts, Jay Privman, about the chances of taking his sons to see Zenyatta. Privman arranged it, Zenyatta was quiet and gentle with the boys and they returned for another visit. Trainer John Shirreffs soon had them up and riding on a stable pony.

That experience convinced Hays that his family needed a more rural life. He was also convinced that he needed animals, and probably a horse, for his sons. Deciding to live off savings for awhile, he leased a three-acre plot south of Austin, Texas, and started shedding the trappings of life in L.A.

“We got rid of four TV sets,” he says. “We live in a single-wide mobile home. It is a lot less than we were used to in L.A.”

In a conversation with Ike before he left, Hays said he was looking for a horse. Ike said he and his partners had one.

They all went to see Spot the Diplomat at his rehab farm near Murrieta.

“Jack stood directly behind the horse,” Ike says. “I was kind of scared. Thoroughbreds can be touchy. But the horse never flinched, and I knew then that this might work.”

Grant Hays says, “Dylan ran under his legs and Spot never twitched.”

Spot the Diplomat had a new home. The Hays family had another 6-year-old. The horse was shipped to Texas, paid for by Summit Racing, in late August. That was a month after the Hays family had arrived.

“In Los Angeles, we were a stressed-out family,” Hays says. “Now, we are all happy. The boys are constantly with Spot. They play around him, ride him, sometimes sit on him for two or three hours at a time.

“He is an angel. He is perfectly behaved at all times. He’s protective of the kids. It’s almost phenomenal.”

Hays says they have found a place where his children are happier. He says all the doctors and specialists they saw provided very little direction and insight.

“So we created our own world,” he says.

Spot the Diplomat has no Triple Crowns or Breeders’ Cups in his resume. But he still gets to the wire first every day on the Hays family land in Texas.

Fashionably Fast Second in the G2 Triple Bend S.

Arcadia, CA (June 7, 2020) – Fashionably Fast, our Harris Farms homebred, stepped up into graded stakes company for the first time in his career today in the $200,000 Triple Bend Stakes (G2) going seven furlongs at Santa Anita Park. Although he did not come home with his seventh consecutive victory, we could not be prouder of his effort finishing second to the multiple G1 winner McKinzie.

Fashionably Fast broke swiftly and was quickly joined on the lead by the other Bob Baffert trainee, the multiple graded stakes performer, Ax Man. Around the turn, McKinzie joined the fray. Ax Man bowed out and Fashionably Fast matched strides with McKinzie until the final furlong. He had every right to back up as well, but he dug in and held off the closing graded stakes performers Dark Vader and Flagstaff. He was a length and one-half away from the winner at the finish.

Grinning Tiger Wire-to-Wire in Crystal Water S.

Controlling speed is always dangerous. Underestimated controlling speed even moreso. Grinning Tiger showed the field and the betting public that he was not to be overlooked with a frontrunning victory in the $101,500 Crystal Water Stakes going one mile over the firm turf course at Santa Anita.

The reigning Oregon-bred Horse of the Year had only sprint races under his belt this season and he certainly enjoyed the stretch out today. He opened up with a 23.46 quarter and a one length lead. He maintained that advantage through the half in 47.73 and six furlongs in 1:12.11. The closers began to rev-up, but the son of Smiling Tiger wasn’t done. Jockey Heriberto Figueroa asked him for more and he finished with two sub-twelve furlongs to finish the mile in 1:35.75 and score by a length and three-quarters. He was let off by the betting public at 92-1.

“I really did think we could get it done,” said an elated winning trainer Anthony Saavedra. “He shuts off (relaxes) so easy, he’s not a runoff. He will just bow that head and do whatever we want him to do. We were dying to try two turns…We were going to scratch him at the last minute, but we all came together and said he needs to run.”

Grinning Tiger races for Tyree J. Wolesensky and he was bred by Patrick Cosgrove. The 5-year-old gelding is out of the winning Pioneering mare, Karlee’s Kitten. His career record stands at 27-8-4-1 and he has earned $207,801.

Smiling Tiger had two of his other state-bred champions earn additional black-type today. Last season’s California-bred Champion 2-year-old El Tigre Terrible was second by a half-length in the $75,000 Desert Code Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Baja Sur, the 2019 Washington-bred Horse of the Year was second by three-quarters of a length in the $61,250 Albany Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

Smiling Shirlee Sparkles in Evening Jewel Victory

Courtesy of Santa Anita Park – Arcadia, CA (May 16, 2020) – Unhurried early from her rail post position, Smiling Shirlee, under confident handling from Mike Smith, came running late to overhaul a well meant Bella Vita in taking Saturday’s $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes at Santa Anita.

Trained by Jeff Bonde, the 3-year-old daughter of Smiling Tiger got six furlongs in 1:10.49, which was .26 of a second slower than Big Sweep’s final clocking in the Evening Jewel’s counterpart, the Echo Eddie, run two races earlier.

Sponsored by the CTBA, the Evening Jewel is part of the lucrative Golden State Series for eligible California-bred or sired horses.

A one-mile state-bred allowance winner on March 6, Smiling Shirlee, who is owned by Edward Brown, Jr., Alan Klein and Phillip Lebherz, had been Cal-bred stakes-placed on three occasions and notched her first stakes victory today in her eighth career start.

“What a race she ran,” said Smith, who was aboard for the first time today. “I thought that if she ran back to her last race, she’d be hard to beat today. The two (Bella Vita) ran a big race but my filly dug in and got the job done.”

The second choice at 7-2 in a field of 10 sophomore fillies, Smiling Shirlee paid $9.60, $5.00 and $3.40.

“We had the extra time off and she’d been training extremely well for this race,” said Bonde. “We were concerned with the rail, but Mike fit this filly like a glove, he really did. Like I say, she’d been training well and she rewarded us today.”

Bred in California by Premier Thoroughbreds, LLC, Smiling Shirlee, who is out the Grand Slam mare Whobetterthanus, bagged $90,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $239,220 and her overall mark to 8: 3-2-1.

Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Bella Vita sat second around the turn, was three-deep at the top of the lane and finished second while besting Been Studying Her by one length. Off at 7-1, Bella Vita paid $7.60 and $5.20.

Off at 9-2 with Flavien Prat, Been Studying Her paid $4.00 while finishing 1 ¾ lengths in front of Warren’s Showtime, who had to wait for racing room turning for home.

Fractions on the race were 21.53, 45.08 and 57.88.

John Harris Visits Two-Year-Olds in Training

Coalinga, CA (March 21, 2020) – The daily operations at Harris Farms Horse Division continues uninterrupted. Today, John Harris stopped in to watch the two-year-olds go through their paces with farm trainer Per Antonsen.