Lane’s End brings you The Weekender Pedigree: Jersey Town

by | 11.30.2010 | 9:18am

Owner-breeder Charles Fipke is the luckiest man in the world. As a professional geologist and entrepreneur, he literally finds mountains of gold and gems. And as a hobby, he breeds Grade 1 racehorses.

Even there, Fipke is lucky. Two years ago, his homebred Tale of Ekati (by Tale of the Cat) won the Cigar Mile in 2008 on a disqualification. This weekend, Fipke's homebred Jersey Town (Speightstown) won the Cigar Mile as the longest shot on the board at 34-1 over G1 winners Haynesfield, Girolamo, Bribon, Vineyard Haven, and others.

Now, fellow horse breeders, we need to sit down and get some good air in our lungs for this next one. Fipke bought the dams of both his Cigar Mile winners at auction while carrying those G1 winners.

We are in the thin-air territory of good luck and amazing fortune here, right?

Well, there is also a lot of hard work involved at every step in the process of mating and producing a good racing prospect.

Sid Fernando, president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, is a regular consultant to Fipke, and Fernando said that “Chuck is really a very enthusiastic horse owner. He has a theory about what works, and he enjoys planning matings according to the various theories that he operates with. Chuck gets suggestions from various individuals, but he makes the final decisions on everything.”

In approaching his matings, Fipke said, “The Werk nick is the guide. And a newer approach I have been following is using duplications of the female line of the mare. Also, you want to have a good dosage profile with speed in it, and when Jack Werk was alive, we started classifying the horses that aren't classified according to the chefs de race.

“We work out the distance aptitude of each horse four different ways, and if you get a result that says this ought to be a 12-furlong horse all four ways, it's pretty likely that is what you'll get. Then you have to take into account the female part of the family because that will change it.”

The breeder also takes note of the physical qualities of his horses, and he purchased Jersey Town's dam, multiple G1 winner Jersey Girl (Belong to Me), for $700,000 at the 2005 Keeneland November sale when the mare was carrying this colt.

While her immense racing talent was important to Fipke, he said Jersey Girl “was an outstanding mare. I usually fall for the horse I think is the best-conformed in the sale, and the year I bought her, she was the best by far.”

A very good-looking and strongly made winner in nine of 11 starts, Jersey Girl was one of the best 3-year-old fillies of 1998, with Banshee Breeze (Unbridled) getting the nod as the Eclipse Award champion, with Acorn and Mother Goose winner Jersey Girl and Kentucky Oaks winner Keeper Hill (Deputy Minister) narrowly behind her.

At the time of her sale, however, Jersey Girl was the dam of four foals and no winners. In commercial terms, buying her was a risk, but Fipke isn't a commercial breeder.

And the result of the mare's mating was an outstanding chestnut colt by champion sprinter Speightstown.

Fernando said the “best-looking horse in the paddock for the Cigar Mile was Girolamo, but Jersey Town was next. He isn't as big as Girolamo, but Jersey Town was strutting around, has a big and powerful hindquarter, and a ton of presence. He stays in training for 2011.”

Jersey Town had been second or third in three successive graded stakes before the Cigar Mile and reversed the form of his second in the Bold Ruler, when the Speightstown colt raced very wide, Fipke said. “We decided to pass the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and instead go for the Cigar Mile,” Fipke said. “We knew going into the Cigar Mile that he was good, and with the determination, he pulled on through. The biggest thing he's got is great determination, and that comes from his mum.”

With all the retirements recently, having Jersey Town racing next year is good news for racing, and Fipke believes there are better things ahead for his colt, who has five victories and five seconds from 12 starts.

The breeder said, “We will go for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile next year, and we might try sprinting him some because he has so much speed.”

The combination of speed and a G1 victory make Jersey Town a very attractive stallion prospect, and Fernando noted that breeder Fipke “always liked this colt quite a bit, and his goal was to make him a stallion. He has done that.”

In addition to making Jersey Town an interesting stallion prospect, Fipke has made Jersey Girl a G1 producer. The breeder said, “Jersey Girl has a nice 3-year-old by Perfect Soul who is so big and massive that he was sent home to grow a little more. He is now in Florida with J.B. McKathan.” The colt's name is Soul of Ekati, another namesake of the Ekati mine  in western Canada where Fipke discovered diamonds.

Barren in 2008, Jersey Girl has successive foals by Perfect Soul, Fipke's Canadian champion by Sadler's Wells. The horse stands at Darby Dan, like Cigar Mile winner Tale of Ekati.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

Copyright © 2010, Frank Mitchell

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