Chasing Yesterday, the 2-year-old half-sister to Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah, is certainly special to her legion of fans. After watching the homebred Tapit filly earn her first stakes victory at Santa Anita on Sunday, owner Jane Lyon explained the Bob Baffert trainee has a special place in her own heart.
“When we started this, I promised my (late) husband (Frank Lyon) that every foal would be for sale,” said Lyon, the proprietor of Summer Wind Farm. “We would only race the RNAs or those who didn't make it to the sale for whatever reason. She was the first filly he gave me permission to keep, and he passed before she was even born… that's why I named her Chasing Yesterday.”
Despite her storied heritage, Chasing Yesterday had to work hard to hit the wire first in Santa Anita's Anoakia Stakes. The filly stalked the pace early on, then was game down the stretch to beat It'sjustanillusion by a half-length. Chasing Yesterday was ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, and the runner-up by Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
“Mike actually texted me right after the race to congratulate me,” Lyon said. “I said, 'I appreciate it, but you sure made her work for it!'”
Lyon's only other horse in Baffert's shed row is Magic on Tap, a 2-year-old Tapit colt out of Aubby K. When he was unloading at the Keeneland September sale, he kicked a part of the trailer and tore off a big chunk of his hoof. He went to Eddie Woods with instructions to “take his time,” and this summer the colt wound up breaking his maiden in his first start at Del Mar. Lyon isn't looking to rush her racehorses, however.
“Baffert was pleased that I didn't want to push them, because he thinks they'll want more distance,” she said. “Magic on Tap is my second blessing, it seems.”
Summer Wind's inception in 1995 was the birth of Lyon's lifelong dream to “raise horses in the Bluegrass.” She didn't own a horse until her mid-20s but grew up watching the great Secretariat blaze across the television screen and fell in love with the Thoroughbred.
Lyon and her husband approached Summer Wind as a business, emphasizing quality over quantity and trying to play at the top five percent of the market. Early on, the focus was on mares with racetrack success, but Lyon has shifted her focus to mares who have already proven they can produce.
“The number of racemares who did not produce was higher than we anticipated,” she explained. “But, if you get a good-looking foal out of a mare who has already produced, then people will definitely want to look at it at the sales.”
Over the past three years, Lyon has made a splash at the sales by purchasing “special” seven-figure racemares like Aubby K and Tapicat, but also graded stakes producers like Littleprincessemma, dam of American Pharoah, and More Hennessy, dam of Breeders' Cup winner Hootenanny. She enjoys attending the sales and scoping out potential candidates herself, then comparing notes with her team of advisors before making a final decision.
“Frank used to tease me, well, he probably wasn't really teasing,” Lyon laughed. “He said he'd thought it was expensive to take me to the jewelry store, but then he took me to a horse sale!
“I've spent a lot on good mares, sure, but I do have a limit. I have to consider how long it will take to get a return on that investment.”
Lyon said the ideal Summer Wind broodmare band is between 25 and 30 mares, which produce an optimum of 20 foals per year to send to the market. In 2018, the farm saw 18 foals stand and nurse, so Lyon is pleased to be getting close to her goals.
Another recent achievement was in 2017 with Moonshine Memories. The Malibu Moon filly was her first multiple Grade 1 winner, and is out of the Summer Wind homebred Unenchantedevening, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Favorite Trick. Lyon purchased their dam, Evil Elaine, one day before Favorite Trick won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
She said she “just couldn't be more proud” of second-generation performers like Moonshine Memories.
“I wasn't really into the racing early on, but now I think I'll keep a couple more that mean something to me,” said Lyon. “I enjoyed getting to pet on Chasing Yesterday after her stakes win on Sunday and check on Magic on Tap too.”
Though neither Chasing Yesterday nor Magic on Tap will be attending this year's edition of the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs, Lyon will have plenty to root for. Moonshine Memories' connections are considering a repeat appearance, and Baffert trainees McKinzie and Game Winner are both expected to be in Louisville for the World Championships.
The recent winner of the G1 Pennsylvania Derby, McKinzie is the best foal out of talented racemare Runway Model, a Summer Wind purchase in 2006 whose previous offspring had been somewhat disappointing. Game Winner is another second-generation homebred, out of Indyan Giving, an unraced daughter of champion racemare Fleet Indian.
“The statistics may not support it, but I believe we're all hoping for that special mare who is able to produce multiple graded stakes winners,” said Lyon. “You just gotta keep on dreaming.”
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