International Equine Acquisitions Holdings, majority owner of 2008 champion 3-year-old male Big Brown during his racing career, has sold its remaining 11 shares in the stallion to other shareholders and partners in Three Chimneys Farm, where the son of Boundary entered stud in 2009.
Jamie LaMonica, whose The Stallion Company brokered the deal between IEAH principle Michael Iavarone and the investor group, confirmed that IEAH “no longer has any ownership” in the stallion, whose first crop of foals were 2-year-olds of 2012.
“It was a good trade,” LaMonica said. “(IEAH) needed to get some cash, and we believed in Big Brown and wanted to buy him. He's bred more mares each year that he's been at stud, a testimony to the quality of his foals. We think the best is yet to come – he's a horse with positive momentum – so we purchased the shares.”
Big Brown, bred in Kentucky by Dr. Gary Knapp's Monticule, sold as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale for $60,000 and then was purchased by Paul Pompa Jr. for $190,000 from pinhooker Eddie Woods, agent, at the 2007 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training. IEAH bought a 75% interest in Big Brown from Pompa after the colt's debut win as a 2-year-old. After Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby – his fourth win without a loss – Three Chimneys struck a 60-share syndication deal that reportedly put a value on the horse upwards of $50 million but left IEAH with a significant ownership position.
Iavarone, who could not be reached by telephone and did not return a message, said at the time Big Brown was retired in October 2008, “When we did a deal with Three Chimneys we told them that we want to stay in this horse's life forever, and they were great in everything that they did, structuring a deal to keep us in the game.”
In recent years, however, IEAH has struggled financially. The Ruffian Equine Medical Center, built by IEAH across from Belmont Park in New York at a reported cost of $18 million, closed its doors in March 2011 and has not reopened. IEAH's bloodstock holdings have fallen to the point that the stable, according to its website, had just nine starts in 2012 for earnings of $191,845, a huge decline from Big Brown's championship year when IEAH won 58 races from 243 starts and over $10.7 million.
Big Brown enters his fifth season at Three Chimneys in Midway, Ky., with a stud fee of $35,000 live foal. He wound up 11th leading first crop sire of 2012.
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