It's no secret that Jim McIngvale goes big when he sets his sights on an endeavor.
The Houston, Texas businessman built up Gallery Furniture from a small operation delivering out of the back of his own truck to the point where one of his current retail locations includes a 30,000 gallon sea life aquarium for shoppers to admire while they browse loveseats. An astute eye might have also seen the a thing or two tied in naming rights to his champion sprinter and young stallion Runhappy over the past few years.
That same gusto will be applied to Saturday's Louisiana Premier Night at Delta Downs, where McIngvale will have four products of his breeding program entered on the stakes-heavy card. Beyond having a common breeder and home state, three of those hopefuls also share a mother.
Charming Colleen, an 18-year-old daughter of Charismatic, has had a high bar to clear for McIngvale since he purchased her privately in the middle of her 2-year-old campaign in 2004. It took a while, but not only did she surpass it, she became a cornerstone of his broodmare band in the process.
Prior to the transaction, the California-bred raced in Washington for owner Frank L. Gaunt, where she became a stakes winner before catching the eye of bloodstock agent Danny Alameda, who contacted McIngvale about making a deal.
“I was a fan of Charismatic,” McIngvale said. “That's one of the reasons I bought Charming Colleen years ago, and it looks like that $600,000 investment is finally going to pay off. She's as close as we've got to a blue hen mare.”
Charming Colleen never quite lived up to the hefty price tag on the racetrack, failing to win a race for her new owner. However, she did earn some crucial black type when she finished third in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes in her 3-year-old debut. She retired with two wins in 10 career starts for earnings of $126,153.
Where Charming Colleen made her impact on the McIngvale operation was in his breeding program. All but two of the mare's six foals to race started their on-track careers as McIngvale homebreds, and her combined progeny earnings currently exceed $914,000.
“Her foals have a lot of courage and a lot of fight in them,” McIngvale said. “They like to go a fairly good distance of ground. They're good anywhere from seven furlongs to a mile, mile and an eighth. She throws a lot of stamina and a lot of courage.”
Charming Colleen stands a good chance of pushing that profit margin even further on Saturday, with her three offspring running for a combined $375,000 in purses. McIngvale owns just two of the three runners, but the potential state-bred breeder incentives put all three in play to make it a profitable night.
The standard-bearer of the group is Underpressure, a Birdstone gelding entered in the LA Bred Premier Night Championship Stakes. Underpressure has accounted for the bulk of his dam's accolades, winning five stakes races and raking in $603,382 over the course of 34 starts. He runs for owner Mallory Greiner, and trainer Chris Richard, who has been involved with the horse since his debut.
Charming Colleen's other two runners on Saturday's card are McIngvale homebreds by Louisiana stallion Guilt Trip.
Why does an owner who runs his horses on all points of the map have such a significant breeding presence in Louisiana? McIngvale said it was a combination of proximity to his home state and the recommendation of his trainer, racing manager, and sister-in-law Laura Wohlers to take advantage of Louisiana's strong state-bred program.
The more recognizable of the homebred duo is Goodprofit, who is entered in the LA Bred Premier Night Distaff Stakes. The 4-year-old filly is a two-time stakes winner who has cleared $200,428, including a victory in last year's Premier Night card.
Also entered on Saturday is Freedomfi, a recent allowance winner who will test the LA Bred Premier Night Prince Stakes.
The breeding program will also send Dr Liz, a daughter of Salute the Sarge out of Came Home mare Slews Return, to the LA Bred Premier Night Matron Stakes. The mare is owned by Brent Gasaway.
Underpressure has the longest resume and the lowest morning line odds of the trio out of Charming Colleen, but McIngvale was slow to put one over the others as the most likely to succeed on Saturday. After a rough recent run of sports betting, including an unsuccessful $1-million wager on the San Fransisco 49ers over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, he said he could use as many wins as he could get.
“I've taken three terrible beats in a row on football betting against the Kansas City Chiefs, so I'm due to win three horse races in a row,” McIngvale said. “After losing to the Chiefs three times in a row, the horses are going to bail me out.”
While her foals are making a statement in Louisiana, the big-bodied Charming Colleen has returned to Kentucky, where she is supporting another high-profile McIngvale venture – Runhappy. She was part of his first book of mares at Claiborne Farm, and her filly named Fasthappy is a 2-year-old of 2020.
She had another foal by Runhappy the following year who arrived so late in the season, the mare was given a year off from production. However, McIngvale said Charming Colleen would be back in Runhappy's book for the 2020 breeding season.
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