By Ray Paulick
Andrew Rosen was 28 years old when his family's Star Crown Stable won the very first Breeders' Cup race ever run, the 1984 Juvenile at Hollywood Park, with that year's champion 2-year-old colt, Chief's Crown. His father, Carl Rosen, known as “the Chief,” bred Chief's Crown, but died when the son of Danzig was a yearling. Andrew was named to run the family's racing and breeding operation.
Chief's Crown was produced from the mare Six Crowns, also bred by Carl Rosen and named after two Triple Crown winners: her sire, 1973 sensation Secretariat and her dam, Chris Evert, who won what was known as the Fillies Triple Crown in New York. In 1974, 10 years before the inaugural Breeders' Cup, Chris Evert was voted an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly and won a match race at Hollywood Park over division rival Miss Musket. Although Rosen had owned claiming horses in New England, Chris Evert was his first major auction purchase, and she turned into a champion and the foundation of a successful breeding operation.
Twenty six years later, Andrew Rosen is hoping for a second Breeders' Cup victory, this time with a 2-year-old filly, Theyskens' Theory, a stakes winner in Europe who will be racing on dirt for the first time in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Several years after the Rosen family's bloodstock holdings were dispersed, he maintains an active interest in the sport through his own portfolio of mares, horses in training and stallion shares. He spoke with the Paulick Report about his experiences dating back to that first Breeders' Cup in 1984.
What do you remember the most about winning the first Breeders' Cup race ever run with Chief's Crown?
You didn't have all the pageantry and there wasn't the history, though Marje Everett (Hollywood Park president) did bring out a lot of Hollywood celebrities to the races that day.
I was a little spoiled, because we were so used to winning with Chief's Crown. I would have been more surprised if he had lost, and he was the heavy favorite. I was young at the time and although I had been around horses with my dad, it was the first time I was really managing things on my own. I knew a lot of the history of racing, but the Breeders' Cup was new. Still, I knew that to be the champion 2-year-old colt we had to win the Breeders' Cup. We had to win that race, and he did.
Your father died the previous year. Was there ever any thought to just selling Chief's Crown and the breeding stock?
My dad had always said he wanted to keep the stable going as long as he could, there was no reason to sell for tax purposes. Because of my dad's love of the sport, my family was totally into the idea of keeping the horses. Chris Evert had five fillies, so we had more of a breeding operation than racing. The only horse we had in training was Chief's Crown. We syndicated him just before the Breeders' Cup, for breeding purposes, though there had been a lot of offers to buy the whole horse.
My mom, all the kids, my cousin David and I were partners and I was managing the stable for everyone. It was something that was a great legacy my dad left. Everyone was into it for that reason, and the other reason was that Chief's Crown came around so quickly. We were able to syndicate him for a lot of money, and kept 25% of the horse, so that generated good income. We had some nice broodmares. The whole operation was doing so well, nobody thought about selling. It turned into a viable business quickly, and it was something the family could do together.
Ultimately, we ended up dispersing the horses in 2006 after being in business as a family over 20 years. At that point, we felt it was a good idea to wind everything down. It just made sense. A lot of the mares were getting older.
Around that same time I started getting really involved in my own Thoroughbred operation. I sold a large part of my business in 2004 (the apparel company Theory, purchased by Fast Retailing of Japan). I run the company for them and have several other clothing companies, but selling gave me money to invest in horses.
Has any of your interest in racing and breeding passed on to your children?
From time to time my daughter Ashley (25) comes to the sales and my son (Austin, 22) goes to the races. He'll go with me to Manton (England) to see Brian Meehan, where we have our European horses. Both kids are coming to the Breeders' Cup, so hopefully there will be something for them to be excited about
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You've tried for 25-plus years to get a second Breeders' Cup win. You had a serious contender for the Ladies' Classic who was injured just last year, Icon Project, an exciting filly who won the Personal Ensign by over 13 lengths. How tough a blow was that when she was injured just before the Breeders' Cup.
You've got to take the highs and lows. It was fantastic to have Icon Project. She was good on the turf but when she switched to dirt she was electrifying. We were so excited and looking forward to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. But she got hurt and that was that.
She was in foal to Medaglia d'Oro and lost the foal early on. Sometimes it happens the first year. The last year with Icon Project was a tough year.
Well, let's look ahead. This year you've got Theyskens' Theory, a top 2-year-old European filly that you bred and own. You've decided to bring over and run on dirt in the Juvenile Fillies. What was behind the decision to run in that race?
Trainer Brian Meehan, who is also a very close friend of mine, picks out all of my yearlings and works closely with me, not only on the training in Europe but the strategy of the whole racing operation. So normally what I would do is Brian and Hugo (Irish bloodstock agent Hugo Merry) would work together with myself and (Kentucky agent) John Stuart to select the yearlings. Those guys decide what they think I should buy and John and I would go over and figure out what I'm going to spend. Buying is really involved in my whole operation.
So when Theyskens' Theory was in the sale at Saratoga (in 2009) and she didn't make her reserve, Brian said you'll be able to sell her next year for a lot more. He was probably right about that. She had a great year in Europe. In her first start, Brian said “I'm just going to give her some experience, she's not going to win so don't worry.” Next out she won by five and then she won at Goodwood. When she finished third in the Fillies' Mile (at Ascot) she ran good, had the lead in last 100 yards. Afterwards Brian and I talked and said why not bring her over to America and try her in the Breeders' Cup. He felt good about the way she came out of the race and was trying and said let's give it a shot. She's by Bernardini and the family she is out of you would think the dirt would be OK for her. Obviously we know how she runs on turf. Dirt is unknown but pedigree wise (out of the Summer Squall mare Heat Lightning, who produced 2005 champion 2-year-old male and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy) you'd be surprised if she didn't run better on dirt than on turf.
You don't get that many shots to run in the Breeders' Cup. It's the experience of a lifetime. A day or a couple of days like this is what the sport is all about. That's why we buy or breed horses.
This filly has a very unusual name. Tell us about it.
In June of this year, I had signed designer Olivier Theyskens to do a collaboration with me at Theory called Theyskens' Theory. Right after I did that deal with him in Paris, where Olivier lives, I went to Manton and spent two days at the farm there. The fillies work on Thursday. The first two did alright, and Brian had been telling me about this Bernardini filly for a long time. Martin Dwyer was riding her, and she went clear of the others by five lengths. Martin said that was the real thing. I hadn't named her but just did this deal with Theyskens and thought my dad had good luck naming horses after people, so I said I'll take a page out of his book. Olivier is a world-class designer. I'm hoping his namesake lives up to his reputation.
Will Olivier Theyskens be at the Breeders' Cup?
He was at Ascot with me for the Fillies' Mile. He had never been to a racetrack and was shocked at the enormity of the whole atmosphere. He said he's a little too nervous to come to another race. He loved being at Ascot, but he's going to watch this one on TV.
Your business is fashion, which is always changing. Your passion is horse racing, which is a very traditional sport. What can racing learn from the fashion industry?
The whole thing about racing is you've got to be in fashion, right? You've got to have the right stud that's in fashion. You've got to be able to read between the lines and see what's going to work. In a lot of ways it's the same thing. You've got to take chances, read the signposts and decide what's right for the future.
Obviously the fashion industry is very fast-moving. In the horse business it takes a long time to get the right group of mares and breed the right horses. I do think we've got to use our instincts in much the same way—anticipate what the right fashion is for the future. It's not too similar in the horse business, especially when you are breeding to new sires likes a Bernardini or a Danzig. We got lucky with Danzig, and I'm hoping for the same result with Bernardini.
Copyright © 2010, Ray Paulick
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