When your introduction into Thoroughbred ownership includes breeding a Grade 1 winner who retires to a stud career in Central Kentucky, it's safe to say you'll be sufficiently “hooked.” For David Bloom, that could not be more true.
Bloom and two partners bred 2005 Vosburgh Stakes winner and multiple record-setter Taste of Paradise out of a mare that was Bloom's initial investment in Thoroughbreds when she was purchased at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
As Taste of Paradise's career came to a close and he left the track, eventually taking up stud duties at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky, Bloom saw the melancholy that overcame the people who took care of the horse daily as they wondered what would happen to their beloved charge. It opened Bloom's eyes, and he pondered what options there are for horses whose next phase isn't a pampered residence as a Thoroughbred stallion.
“We didn't understand second careers as much until we retired Taste,” said Bloom. “We became acutely aware of the question 'if he hadn't had the possibility of a stallion career to transition to, what would he have done?' It's like when a professional [human] athlete retires, they still have a lot more life to live and things to do.”
By that time, Bloom had several other horses in his stable and he was preparing to start the search for fillies and mares that could be bred to Taste of Paradise in his inaugural season at stud.
A lawyer by trade, Bloom is the type to seek out information and resources in order to develop a plan and accomplish a goal. In this case, he spoke with many people, both on the track and off, about what retirement options there are for horses coming out of racing whose potential does not include a breeding career.
He was introduced to a number of people, including Theresa Winters, a sport horse trainer in Palm Springs, and Tat Yakutis McCabe, a bloodstock agent based in California, and as time went on, Bloom built a network of people and a protocol for transitioning his racehorses off the track when their careers concluded.
“David has sent me dozens of horses to retrain. I worked with one, Running for Jakob, for about a year and a half and she's now starting a new career as a barrel racer. Others have gone on to do everything from eventing and jumping to trail riding and even mounted police work,” said Winters. “Dave and his wife, Cheri, truly love all of their horses and care deeply about what homes they are placed in.”
Winter's personal horse is also one of Bloom's former runners and holds a special place in both of their hearts. Slice of Paradise (known as Truffles) was the first foal ever born by Taste of Paradise. Winters has retrained him as a dressage horse and enjoys riding him regularly.
She also has another son of Bloom's sire currently in training. Fast Track, a track record-setting son of Taste of Paradise that Bloom owned as a racehorse but did not breed.
“He was still sound and loved racing as an 8-year-old and, while he had gotten slower, it was not by much. He was running in $30.000 to $40,000 claiming races and got claimed from us,” said Bloom. “We never thought he'd get claimed. We even offered the trainer 10-percent more than he'd just claimed him for after the race, but he declined.”
Bloom, who is steadfast in his commitment to always allowing each horse proper recovery time between races and makes it clear that he never wants a horse of his to run unless it is 100-percent, was worried that, at 8-years-old and having already overcome shin issues in the past, Fast Track might not stay sound in a different barn.
“Next thing I knew I was at a rehab center visiting one of my horses and who do I find? Fast Track, who was recovering from an injury,” said Bloom. “As soon as they got him back to the races, we claimed him back and retired him. The whole ordeal was really a major trauma for our family.”
Yakutis McCabe has had similar experiences with Bloom and his commitment to his horses, whether before, during or after their racing careers.
“I met David when I began consigning in California. At first I mostly sold yearlings for him, but he would often contact me for assistance in placing horses after their racing careers ended,” said Yakutis McCabe, who operates under the name Yakutis Enterprises, LLC. “He is one of the most conscientious owner/breeders I know.”
Yakutis McCabe said the assistance she offers Bloom and others, including trainer Carla Gaines and owner/handicapper Jeff Siegel, has become an extra benefit of doing business with her.
“As a sales agent, it's very common to get calls for assistance in placing horses that need second careers,” explained Yakutis McCabe. “I've always felt it is important for sales/bloodstock personnel to do as much as they can to use their resources to assist in placing horses. Clients with horses in production or training have significant overhead. Assisting them means their programs can continue to move forward. It ends up being an additional networking opportunity and ends up being a part of the business conversation with clients and has even brought me additional business.”
As the years have gone on, Bloom has leaned regularly on Winters, Yakutis McCabe and others, paying board on his horses as they transition from racing to riding. Now, ten years since Taste of Paradise's first foals hit the ground, many of the horses Bloom and his team re-home are from the stallion who started it all.
“When people send me an update or photos of the horses we've placed, it's right up there with getting a win. It means something different, but it's just as special,” said Bloom. “We aren't in it for the gambling. We're in it for the fun and the beauty of these animals…we're in it for the horses.”
This approach extends to his broodmare band too. Much like Tastetheteardrops, Taste of Paradise's dam who started it all for Bloom, his mares enjoy a proper retirement in Central Kentucky once their breeding days are behind them.
“They can't take care of themselves. When they're done racing, they still have a lot of life to live and a lot of joy to give to others. We breed most of what we race, and we feel it is our job as their breeders and owners when they retire to find them a home.”
Jen Roytz is a marketing, publicity and comprehensive communications specialist based in Lexington, Kentucky. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, her professional focus lies in the fields of equine, health care, corporate and non-profit marketing. She holds board affiliations with the Make a Wish Foundation, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Retired Racehorse Project, among others. While she currently has no plans to build an arc, she is the go-to food source for two dogs, two cats and two off-track Thoroughbreds.
Email Jen your story ideas at [email protected] or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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