Marc Tacher considers the journey: thirty years, dozens of horses who have cost as much as $100,000, opportunities missed and dreams shattered.
And now this.
“It's unreal,” said Tacher, whose 3-year-old colt Justiciero became Puerto Rico's 12th Triple Crown champion last week with a victory in the Copa San Juan (G1) at Camarero. “It's like a dream.”
Justiciero's Triple Crown victory makes him a strong contender for the Clasico Del Caribe, to be contested in the United States for the first time Dec. 9 at Gulfstream Park.
For Tacher, it's been a long ride to have a horse like Justiciero, a son of Kentucky-bred Coach Billy G. Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, Tacher has been in racing for 30 years, first falling in love with the sport when watching Secretariat win the 1973 Triple Crown. During his years, Tacher has purchased and sold horses and has raced in Kentucky, New York, Florida, and West Virginia.
“At one time, about 10 years ago, I had 10 horses running in the States,” recalled Tacher, a member of the Camarero Race Track Corporation. “I had a couple good ones, but usually sold them or wasn't able to win a stakes. And I had some I thought would be really good that didn't work out for me.”
Like Justawalkinthepark, who Tacher sold as a 2-year-old before the colt became stakes placed in 2004, or War God, who flashed potential winning a maiden allowance at Calder and finishing fifth behind Corinthian and Jazil at Gulfstream before getting injured.
For Tacher, the chance to get a Triple Crown winner started with Ana and Ricardo Rosario's Haras Nortena Farm in Puerto Rico purchasing Coach Billy G. for $4,500 at the 2011 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. Named after former University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie, Coach Billy G., a son of Storm Cat, was bred by Donald Adam's Courtlandt Farm and won under allowance conditions at Churchill Downs in 2010 after breaking his maiden at Turfway earlier in the year.
“We thought being out of an A.P. Indy mare (A.P. Adventure) and being by Storm Cat his pedigree was very good,” said Ana Rosario. “We are a small farm. We only have six stallions. We bred Justiciero to our mare La Policlinica, who won 32 races.”
Prior to Haras Nortena's annual yearling sale, Tacher went to the farm's Facebook page and started looking at horses. “I was looking at the pictures and I saw [Justiciero},” Tacher recalled. “He really grabbed my eye. When I went to the farm and checked his conformation, he was even more impressive in person.”
Tacher paid $15,000 for Justiciero.
“It just goes to show you can buy a horse for $15,000 and live out your dream,” Tacher said. “Sometimes the money isn't important.”
Tacher said the plan is for Justiciero to run in August in a Clasico Del Caribe qualifying race in Puerto Rico and possibly again in October before making travel plans to Gulfstream come December.
Winning the Clasico, Tacher said, would be a “dream come true.”
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