Harvey Clarke isn't going to win the Eclipse Award as leading owner. I doubt he'll even get any votes. But very few owners have had better years with limited opportunities than New York-based Clarke, who alone or in partnerships has campaigned four American Graded Stakes winners so far this year, including Grade 3 winner Soldat, second to Pluck in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
Clarke has owned horses nearly 30 years but didn't win his first AGS race until Eye of Taurus captured a division of the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland last fall. This year he's won the G3 Athenia with Eye of Taurus; the G3 duo of the Hawthorne Derby and Commonwealth Turf with Yankee Fourtune; the G3 With Anticipation with Soldat; and the G3 Hill Prince with Krypton. All are trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.
Clarke is the sole owner of Eye of Taurus; owns 95% of Soldat in partnership with Craig Robertson; owns Yankee Fourtune in partnership with Andrew Albstein; and Krypton in partnership with Ron Winchell. Clarke's racing manager Steve Shahinian bought Yankee Fourtune for Clarke at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale, paying $37,000 for the son of Yankee Gentleman, and purchased Soldat (by War Front) for $180,000 on behalf of Clarke at the 2009 Keeneland September sale.
“Steve picks out a lot of horses for me,” Clarke told the New York Racing Association as Soldat was preparing for the Breeders' Cup. “The two of us wander around the sales – he's got a much better eye than I do – and we both loved this horse. I bid much more than I wanted to, but we liked his athleticism so much we decided to take a shot.”
“You do this because you love horses,” said Clarke. “I'm not much of a gambler, but I like to hang around the barn, muck a few stalls or walk a few hots if they'll let me. You dream about being successful and I always tell Kiaran ‘We do it for win pictures.'”
They've gotten more than a few win pictures this year, along with some nice trophies. Alone or in partnership, Clarke has had just seven horses in training and has but 54 starts in 2010. Yet he's won 14 times, with nine seconds, and nine thirds, according to Equibase, with earnings of $943,865. His four AGS winners and five AGS wins ranks him fourth, behind three powerhouse operations: Zayat Stables, WinStar Farm, and Jay Em Ess Stable. Each of those racing stables has about five times or more the number of 2010 starts.
Harvey Clarke's operation proves that you don't always need big numbers to achieve success. But you might need some patience.
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