Phoenix Thoroughbreds may be new to the international bloodstock scene, but it has arrived in a blaze of big spending. Kerri Radcliffe, the group's racing and bloodstock advisor, signed the ticket for six yearlings at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga Sale earlier this week for purchases totaling $3,950,000. That included an Orb colt who was one of two $1 million yearlings passing through the sale.
Radcliffe started buying for the group in March and handles purchasing and racing management for Phoenix Thoroughbreds' Northern Hemisphere operations. (David Lucas handles operations in the Southern Hemisphere.) Radcliffe was the leading buyer at OBS March earlier this year, and was the under-bidder on the $2.45 million Tiznow colt at OBS April, which set an all-time record price for the sale company.
Phoenix Thoroughbreds isn't so much an ownership syndicate, but rather is thought to be one of the first regulated Thoroughbred investment funds in the world.
“I'm working on the strategy that to get the best, I think you have to buy the best,” said Radcliffe. “It's nice to go and buy the big ones with potential although I have to say there's a hell of a lot more pressure with it.”
Radcliffe will be in attendance at yearling and breeding stock sales in England, France, and Kentucky throughout the rest of the year to purchase on behalf of Phoenix. The group will purchase weanlings later in the year as pinhook prospects, and also has plans to buy into broodmares and stallion prospects.
Radcliffe comes to the breeze-up sales with the unique perspective of a long-time exercise rider (in fact she breezes one of the Phoenix fillies in her home base at Newmarket), and previously spent some time as a bloodstock agent on her own before accepting the job with Phoenix.
Of course, it's a well-worn saying in the racing business that if you want to make $1 million in horses, you start with $10 million. So what's the motivation for Phoenix Thoroughbred investors to put their money in horses instead of stocks?
“Actually, the guy that put this all together is a huge racing enthusiast and a finance person,” Radcliffe said. “He has done an incredible job putting this all together and raising money for it. Obviously as we go along, we're going to be looking for investors.”
Amer Abdul Aziz has previously been identified as chief executive officer of Phoenix, although Radcliffe said she has no idea who the investors in the fund are. Aziz is an advisor at BD Globe Capital Inc., and was a champion owner of Arabians in the 1980s, as well as a long-time fan of Thoroughbred racing.
Radcliffe said her hope is Phoenix Thoroughbreds might go the way of China Horse Club, which is seeing graded stakes-level success in the early years of its existence.
“I don't know if we're going to be doing exactly the same thing as China Horse Club but the more I look into it, there are a lot of similarities to it. Obviously a completely different identity behind it,” she said.
Currently, Phoenix has 12 horses in training, with its American contingent based with Bob Baffert and its European runners with Jeremy Noseda, Radcliffe's husband. Radcliffe is hopeful Phoenix could an American runner in the Breeders' Cup this year and that the group could send one or two of its European trainees over for the event, also.
Take Me With You, a 2-year-old Scat Daddy filly Radcliffe purchased from the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale for $800,000, hit the board in the Group 3 Albany at Royal Ascot this summer. Radcliffe said the finish was a sneaky good one, as the filly had to start on the stand side of the racetrack, where Noseda thought there was a track bias working against her. Her next start is undetermined while Radcliffe waits out the rains in England, but she's on track for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Radcliffe is hopeful unstarted Dark Angel (IRE) colt Lansky (IRE) or Lonhro (AUS) son Gronkowski could contend the Juvenile Turf.
Radcliffe was disappointed by the recent Del Mar performance of Diamondsandpearls, her $1.7 million OBS March purchase who was fourth in the Grade 2 Sorrento. Baffert told her not to worry, however, as he suspects the filly will improve off her finish there.
“It would be just amazing [to have runners in the Breeders' Cup],” said Radcliffe. “I think my boys have very high expectations, so I'm having to become a bit thick-skinned. The pressure is getting to me a little bit. Everybody's got high expectations but it is horse racing, so there are fabulous days and then there are the bad days.”
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