Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Late-Running Fillies And The ‘Irish Connection’

by | 08.24.2017 | 2:27pm
Patricia Moseley (center) chats with trainer Brendan Walsh after the Lake Placid victory by Proctor's Ledge

Watching Proctor's Ledge come flying down the Saratoga stretch last Saturday for a victory in the G2 Lake Placid Stakes, owner/breeder Patricia Moseley was overjoyed. The win meant more than the prestige of the stake, however, because the filly represents the latest link in the breeding program she initiated with her late husband in the 1960s.

“It is doubly sweet,” Moseley said. “Her great-grandmother was a total come-from-behinder, too. She was very good to us.”

Moseley grew up watching her father's racehorses in England, and her husband James Moseley was a banker and Massachusetts state legislator who helped to revive Suffolk Downs in the early 1990s. Decades ago, the couple befriended Claiborne's Arthur “Bull” Hancock, who provided their major introduction to Thoroughbred ownership.

“We were at an auction, sitting in the row behind Bull,” Moseley remembered. “He bid on this filly, and won, and the gentleman came over for him to sign the slip. We had no idea what was going on, but he turned around, handed us the paper, and said, ‘don't ask me any more questions, just take it.'”

The filly Hancock had purchased on the Moseley's behalf would later be christened Drumtop. A 1966 daughter of Round Table bred by Mrs. George G. Proskauer, Drumtop was out of the mare Zonah, a Nasrullah half-sister to Hall of Fame mare Gamely.

Under the care of trainer Roger Laurin, Drumtop became a multiple stakes-winner on the turf, running out earnings of $493,738 in 44 lifetime starts. In those days, fillies and mares often had to compete against their male counterparts because sex-restricted turf stakes were few and far between. Drumtop would best the boys seven times over her career, improving each year she aged.

“Oh, it was very exciting,” said Moseley. “She was so much fun to watch… you just knew she was going to come running at the end.”

In 1971, Drumtop won five of her ten stakes starts against males. It was the first year of the Eclipse Awards, but no separate category had been allocated for female turf stars, so the mare's accomplishments would go unrecognized (Run the Gantlet took home the 1971 Eclipse for top turf horse). Drumtop retired with a record of 17-9-3 from 44 starts.

The mare continued to make her mark in the breeding shed, and the Moseleys sent her to meet several of the most influential sires of her day. Drumtop's 1974 son by Northern Dancer, named Topsider, became a stakes winner who set a track record on Saratoga's turf, and he later sired champion older mare North Sider as well as five other G1 winners.

Drumtop died in 1983 foaling a daughter by Mr. Prospector. Later named Aliata, the filly found the winner's circle twice in her career but was more successful as a broodmare. Her first son was Storm Boot, by Storm Cat, a stakes-placed runner who sired 45 stakes winners before his death in 2007. Another son, Storm Allied (Stormy Atlantic), became a Grade 1 winner in Puerto Rico.

It was Aliata's 2003 daughter by Arch, the stakes-placed mare Archstone, who later became the dam of Proctor's Ledge, named for the location witches were executed during the Salem Witch Trials. Archstone's mating with Ghostzapper was actually a result of a stallion season Moseley purchased at a 2012 Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation fundraiser.

“Ghostzapper was a little chilly at that point, so he was inexpensive,” she said. “You could see him starting to come back a little bit, with winners here and there, so I went to $22,000 for the season.”

Like her great-grandmother Drumtop, Proctor's Ledge seems to be getting better as she matures. Still just a 3-year-old, the filly has now won two graded stakes at Saratoga in her last two starts and could be pointed to her first Grade 1 race in the near future.

Trainer Brendan Walsh is not in any hurry with her, however. His patience and horsemanship are the major reasons Moseley has been working with him since the outset of his career; in fact, she was the owner of the first winner Walsh ever trained.

Moseley discusses the trip with rider Javier Castellano

Introduced to the owner by her friend and Walsh's fellow Irishman Roger Horgen, a gallop hand for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Moseley was convinced to give the young trainer a chance. He had worked under Eddie Kenneally and in Dubai, and went out on his own in 2012. Moseley has had three or four horses in Walsh's barn ever since, and Proctor's Ledge gave the trainer his first win at the prestigious Saratoga meeting.

“I love a trainer who rides his own horses,” Moseley said. “They just have to be able to feel things that most other trainers can't, and Brendan really cares about his horses. Besides, I'm a great believer in Irish horsemanship.”

Moseley laughingly referred to her current program as the “Irish connection” because from the breeding farm, to the juvenile training facility in Georgia, to her other trainer at Fair Hill, all of the horsemen in her employ happen to be from Ireland.

“It's just kind of developed that way—it wasn't planned,” she said. “But they all know each other, so there is very little transition for the horses when they move from one phase of their career to the next. I never have to worry about transferring information because they are all in constant contact with one another.”

With a current roster of approximately 50 horses, Moseley appreciates that ease of communication. She keeps four or five mares in Kentucky year-round, and the rest of the breeding stock are now on a farm in New York. Her policy is to send the colts to auction each fall while retaining the fillies to race.

The former chairwoman of Suffolk Downs had kept her breeding operation in Massachusetts, but the downturn of racing in the state forced her to change that location.

“There are all these Mass-breds with nowhere to run, really,” Moseley lamented. “Finger Lakes has been holding a few races for them, and Suffolk's six days out of the year have the stakes races, but none of it is moving in the right direction.”

James Moseley leased out Suffolk Downs in the early 1990s, and worked hard to revive the track and racing in the state. His early goal was to coordinate a New England racing schedule with Rockingham Park, but state legislators threw a wrench in that plan. Moseley was later forced to sell his interests in Suffolk when the downturn appeared to be irreversible, and he passed away in 1998.

Patricia Moseley has carried on his legacy through the racing game, breeding and running in her own name ever since. She is a staunch supporter of racing in Massachusetts, diligently following the political wrangling of different horsemen's groups and the legislature and offering her support whenever possible. Still, she admits the state's racing industry is in dire straits.

Another of her major philanthropic concerns, Thoroughbred aftercare, is in a far better state in 2017. Moseley has been working to re-home her own retirees for as long as she can remember, and keeps those who cannot be re-homed on her own farm in New York. Eventually, she said that facility may become entirely focused on retirement.

“I'm a total softie when it comes to that,” she said. “I've always been a big believer in aftercare, and we are starting to work with a couple local organizations to improve the nation-wide effort. I really must commend The Jockey Club for bringing the Thoroughbred back into the limelight in the sport horse world – I never had anything but Thoroughbreds to show, but I remember when everyone started wanting warmbloods. It's just wonderful to see the Thoroughbreds out there again.”

Proctor's Ledge has a home for life with Moseley. The filly has two half-sisters in the pipeline, a 2-year-old by Bodemeister and a yearling by Street Sense, so there is plenty of hope for the family's immediate future as well.

“Even if Proctor never does anything else for the rest of her career, she's done more than enough,” Moseley said. “I saw her the morning after the Lake Placid and she just thinks she owns the world right now, so I'm definitely looking forward to the future.”

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