Last November, an impressive maiden-breaking juvenile by Speightstown went through the auction ring at Keeneland; the hammer fell at $340,000. The colt, Barbados, has won both of his subsequent starts – a pair of stakes races at Gulfstream Park – for new owner Paul Hanifl.
“On the racetrack, he's just level-headed, moves real nice, and to me, he's the type of horse you look for,” said Hanifl.
Hanifl, the vice president of business development for healthcare manufacturing company Sage Products in Chicago, bought his first horse around 20 years ago. In the last five years, Suzanne Stables – named for Paul's wife – has been breeding its own stock and plans to race horses in several states.
“Our family is there [in Minnesota],” Hanifl said. “Canterbury has got some nice purses for Minnesota horses, so we'll just have a bunch of Minnesota horses. We'll have Illinois, Minnesota, and probably some Kentucky horses.”
Hanifl says the horses he's purchased lately have been proven winners with good breeding.
“What we want to do now is upgrade our mares,” he said. “We have a breeding part of the stables and a purchasing part.
“We're not multi-multi-millionaires that can buy 50 horses for half a million to a million dollars. . .although we're not buying cheap ones, now, we're not breaking the bank.”
Barbados had made three starts for previous owner WinStar Farm before trainer Mike Tomlinson purchased him for Hanifl at Keeneland November. The colt, whose dam Northern Station was a stakes-winning daughter of Street Cry, romped home a winner at Keeneland a few weeks before the auction, pulling away to score by five lengths in a maiden special weight. Bred in Kentucky by California-based Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Barbados had been through the sales ring twice before. As a yearling, he sold for $160,000 at Keeneland September and then fetched $230,000 at Keeneland April last year.
“We had given him [Tomlinson] a chunk of cash to buy horses for us,” Hanifl said. “He said, 'Here, I like this horse,' so over the phone I checked the records and looked at the breeding and all that other stuff, and said, 'You know what? Looks good.'”
The colt made his Suzanne Stables debut in the Spectacular Bid Stakes Jan. 3, kicking clear to a three-length victory. It was his first win in stakes company. After the race, Hanifl expressed his desire to run the colt in the Grade 3 Hutcheson Stakes Jan. 24. Barbados won that race as well, battling past a rival on his inside to take the second start of his sophomore season.
Hanifl describes Barbados as a smart and well-conformed individual, who was “agitated” in the paddock before the Hutcheson but settled right down to business on the track.
“I've only known him, really, for a month, and we'll get to know him a little bit more as time goes by,” he said.
Just a few days after his Hutcheson victory, X-rays revealed a bone chip in Barbados' left knee, but according to the vet, the colt “should come back without any problems.” A number of options for future races are on the table. Hanifl said he wants to see the horse stretch out to longer distances, but he also has the Breeders' Cup Sprint in mind as a long-term goal for Barbados.
“First objective would be to get him healthy, second objective would be to see if he can go longer, and third, we know he can sprint, so even if we have to settle back with being a sprinter…that's okay,” said Hanifl.
“He's a real good horse and there's some real good races, and we'll take that.”
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