In its initial foray into syndicating Thoroughbreds, Shooting Star Thoroughbreds, LLC, has discovered that sometimes things are better left to chance.
After all, it was only through a series of fortunate circumstances that Shooting Star Thoroughbreds will be well represented by Chance It in Saturday's $100,000 Dr. Fager division of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series at Gulfstream Park.
Chance It created a buzz when the Florida-bred son of Currency Swap broke through with a maiden victory in his second career start June 29, scoring by 9 ¼ lengths in a 5 ½-furlong race at Gulfstream while producing at the time the fastest Beyer Speed Figure (92) of any 2-year-old in the country this year.
The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained colt's dazzling triumph was the first win for Shooting Star Thoroughbred's first ownership group, which also campaigns Most Sandisfactory, a Kentucky-bred son of The Factor who has finished second and third in his first two starts at Ellis Park for trainer Peter Miller, and Island Commission, an unraced Kentucky-bred son of Commissioner who is scheduled to make his debut soon at Gulfstream for Joseph.
“We're very blessed that it turned out so good in the first go-around,” said Mary Lightner, a longtime trainer in Florida, Canada and Kentucky who now manages the fledgling syndicate.
The series of fortunate circumstance that preceded Chance It's eye-popping victory was sparked when a free season to the stallion Jersey Town was won by the son-in-law of Fred Pace, a longtime friend of Lightner's father and Shooting Star Thoroughbreds principal, Michael Lightner.
“[Pace} has had a lot of good mares and a lot of success with the babies. His son-in-law won a free season to Jersey Town, but Fred didn't have any mares. His last mare had died,” Mary Lightner said. “He went online and adopted this mare [Vagabon Diva] for $250 and bred her to Jersey Town. Then, he sent the mare down to our farm.”
Vagabon Diva, a daughter of Pleasantly Perfect whose only victory in four lifetime starts came in a $5,000 claiming race for maidens at Turfway Park, produced a colt before being given away to Ocala breeder Bett Usher, who went on to breed her to Currency Swap. The colt, Trenton Traveler, was saddled by Mary Lightner for a first-out victory via disqualification in a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs June 1, 2017, as well as a next-out triumph in a Belterra allowance.
“After Trenton won at Churchill, I said, 'Dad, you need to take a look at that [Currency Swap] baby.” We bought him off of Bett,” Lightner said.
“She called him Chance, because it was just by chance that I met her. I was eating late lunch at a restaurant and she was the only other one in there. We got to talking because our tables were next to each other. She said she knew my father and that she was working with broodmares. I said, 'I got one. We'll just give it to you. She took the mare.”
After privately purchasing the Currency Swap colt for Shooting Star Thoroughbreds, Lighter was more than happy to comply with his breeder's request.
“When we went to pick him up, she said if you could use 'Chance' in his name, it would be cool. I said, 'It's a good name. It was just by chance that I met you and it was just by chance that my father's friend bought the mare,'” Lightner said. “The whole thing has been one big chance. He's got a fitting name for everything that's gone on.in this whole story.”
Chance It has made the whole story more compelling two starts into his racing career for Shooting Star Thoroughbreds partners. The Florida-bred colt came up a little short in his debut, in which he finished second as the beaten favorite June 1 but came through with a monster performance under Edgard Zayas June 28 to establish himself as the horse to beat in Saturday's Dr. Fager.
“I was in Kentucky. A bunch of our partners are from Kentucky, and we had [Most Sandisfactory] running the next day at Ellis. I drove to Kentucky instead of coming down there. I watched in on television. It was so thrilling. Saffie called me a second after he crossed the wire,” Lightner said. “It was a pretty exciting to see him win like that. Edgard rode him perfectly, got him out of the gate like a rocket and put the stick away at the sixteenth-pole and let him sail in. He showed himself to be something special that day.”
The Shooting Star Thoroughbreds partners will have the luxury of sitting back and watching Chance It's story continue to unfold without worrying about a slew of additional expenses.
“We sold 100 shares at $2,500 a share this year. That covers everything except stakes nominations, which obviously you couldn't know going in, and for unforeseen medical emergencies, such as colic. We carry insurance on all the horses and it has $5,000 towards colic surgery. Going rate for colic surgery is $10,000, so if that happened, God forbid, it would amount to $50 a person to cover it,” Lightner said.
“It's just for their 2-year-old year. At the end of their 2-year-old year, we'll either sell them at private auction or, if they're good enough, they could roll into a new syndicate on their own,” added Lightner, noting that Shooting Star Thoroughbreds also offers a separate pinhook syndicate. “The whole plan is to get people in at a price-point they can afford and then see if they like it. If they like it, maybe they go on and buy their own horse.”
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