Bobby Zen

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — To coin a phrase uttered by the actor John Houseman from the Smith Barney television commercials of the mid-1980s, Senor Buscador (Mineshaft) has really ‘earrrrrned it’ as he approaches his second straight appearance in an eight-figure horse race, Saturday’s $12-million G1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse.

“Yeah. I mean, it’s been pretty crazy,” admits owner and breeder Joey Peacock, Jr.

Peacock, a resident of San Antonio, and his family have been in the horse business for the better part of 5 1/2 decades, but never has there been one like Senor Buscador to grace their New Mexico-based barn. And it all starts with a daughter of a virtually unknown son of Fappiano who won no fewer than seven black-type races at Zia Park and Sunland Park for Peacock’s father and trainer Todd Fincher. She has managed to one-up herself in the breeding shed, with five winners from five to race, four of those full stakes winners and two graded winners.

Not bad for a mare by….checks notes…Desert God?

The Pride of New Mexico and ‘Mining’ For Gold

“I think that early on, people look down their noses at her being a ‘New Mexico-bred,’” he said of Rose’s Desert. “But if you really look at the pedigree, I mean, she’s by a horse who was an unraced son of Fappiano out of a mare that won the [GI] Kentucky Oaks. I mean, let’s be real, that’s a pretty solid pedigree.”

That Kentucky Oaks winner is the 1982 victress Blush With Pride (Blushing Groom {Fr}), whose daughter Better Than Honour (Deputy Minister) was broodmare of the year in 2007. More on how this part of the pedigree fits in below.

“There’s a lot of times that you have great racemares who don’t end up being great broodmares, but we were just always confident in her. And she’s a big mare, so it wasn’t like we had limitations when we were talking about stallions, like we were trying to overcome anything,” Peacock explained.

He continued, “She had speed. She had size. She didn’t have anything that we had to try to breed to improve, which really opened us up to really go to anybody that we wanted to stallion-wise. Right or wrong, we are 100% all in on that pedigree and that bloodline. We haven’t sold any of Roses Desert’s offspring and don’t intend to. I just think it’s something that we can take and build on and look back 20 years from now and say, ‘Oh my God. Look what happened starting with Rose’s Desert.’ I tell you, I wouldn’t trade our broodmare with anybody else’s broodmare.”

The decision to send Rose’s Desert to Mineshaft, on the surface at least, is an interesting one. The Peacocks successfully mated the mare to the likes of Ghostzapper (Grade III winner Runaway Ghost and SW Our Iris Rose) and Curlin (MSW Sheriff Brown). A four-time Grade I winner and Horse of the Year in 2003, Mineshaft has been a reliable sire of racehorses, if not perhaps in the same league as a Ghostzapper or Curlin.

“My dad was still alive when we bred to Mineshaft, and so he would get the stallion book every year and go through it, and what he really liked to see–he liked to see horses that had a decent amount of races in their career, which to him indicated soundness,” Peacock explained. “He liked to see horses all through the pedigree that made money, which to him was a proxy for ability at the racetrack. And then to see a horse that had the stamina to go the classic distances, and Mineshaft fit all those, checked all those boxes. So he wasn’t a big stud fee, $10,000, but you know what? So what?

“We were not handcuffed by the fact that we were breeding to market to the sales, which I think drives most breeding decisions. So we were sort of free of that obligation of trying to get a sales horse. We just wanted to breed a good, sound, solid race horse, and as you can see, we got fortunate and that’s what turned out to be.”

The cross of A.P. Indy over the Blush With Pride family needs little introduction, as it has resulted in the likes of Belmont winner Rags to Riches–by A.P. Indy himself; GSW & G1SP Casino Drive (Mineshaft); MGSW/GISP Greatest Honour (Tapit); Canadian SW Cascading (A.P. Indy); and Modeling (Tapit), the dam of champion MGISW Arcangelo (Arrogate).

And Mineshaft himself is out of Prospectors Delite, a mare by….well, does anyone know how Senor Buscador translates into English? If you didn’t, you do now.

An Immediate Hit

Peacock, who boards his mares at Shawhan Place in Kentucky, reports there was nothing remarkable about Senor Buscador’s upbringing, but the same couldn’t be said about the year 2020, the colt’s juvenile season. The Coronavirus was on the lips and minds of everybody, and in its own way, it wreaked havoc on the Thoroughbred industry. Among the types of decisions it impacted were the otherwise-inane discussions of just where to run one’s horses.

“New Mexico shut down and we were trying to find a race for him because he’s ready to go, and so Todd took him to Remington Park and after that first race, Todd said, ‘This horse is–you don’t get horses like this very often. This horse is special,’” Peacock said. “So when he said that, I started paying a lot more attention. Not that I don’t pay attention to our horses, but I mean, I started getting excited because he doesn’t ever really offer any kind of glowing remarks like that.”

Senor Buscador and Rose’s Desert | Courtesy Shawhan Place

Having rallied from last to debut a 2 1/2-length winner in November 2020, Senor Buscador romped by 5 3/4 lengths in the Springboard Mile the following month, but the colt was a flat fifth at 5-2 behind Mandaloun (Into Mischief) in the GII Risen Star S.

“We had the fastest two-turn dirt Beyer for any 2-year-old when he won the Springboard, so my phone started ringing off the hook first thing in the morning after that race, and then we decided we weren’t interested in selling the horse, so we were headed to the Risen Star,” Peacock said.

“We thought the horse was going to run well. Didn’t have his patented late kick. We ended up sending him to Dr. Tommy Hays in Elgin, Texas, and turns out he had chipped an ankle. So Dr. Hays took the chip out, said, ‘Good news. We got it early. It hadn’t been floating around. It didn’t do a bunch of other soft tissue damage, so let’s just give him time off,’ which we did.”

Dashed Derby Dreams 

Having also been forced to miss the 2018 Triple Crown trail with Senor Buscador’s GIII Sunland Derby-winning half-brother Runaway Ghost, Peacock was compelled to regroup and was pointing Senor Buscador to a fall campaign in 2021.

“I think we gave him four months off, and then we were training him to come back for the Zia Park Derby in New Mexico, and then Todd gets to the barn one morning and his right rear hock is just…he can’t even put his foot on the ground,” Peacock said. “It’s swollen beyond belief. I mean, he got injured in the stall and then that thing got infected and there’s very little blood flow to that part of the hock.

“So we had to have another surgery, go in and clean out the infection, try to get the antibiotics to where they needed to be. It ended up being a long, drawn-out affair. I mean, the veterinarians were like, ‘We don’t know how this is going to go.’ We weren’t not talking about [being] a racehorse anymore. We’re just talking about survival.”

But survive he did, finishing third to fellow World Cup entrant Laurel River (Into Mischief) in the GII Pat O’Brien S. at Del Mar before winning the 2022 GIII Ack Ack S. at Churchill Downs. He reportedly bled when eighth to Cody’s Wish (Curlin) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Connections continued on undeterred into a 5-year-old season, confidence still well intact, and Senor Buscador backed up their opinion with a 13-1 upset in the GII San Diego H. ahead of a sound fourth in the GI TVG Pacific Classic in early September. A respectable third in the GI Awesome Again S., Senor Buscador made up a fair bit of ground in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic to be seventh.

Some might have called time on the season after a seventh start in eight months, but they pressed on to the GI Cigar Mile H., where Senor Buscador finished an anti-bias runner-up.

“We were thinking about the Pegasus all along and hoping that based on that Cigar effort, we’d get the invitation and sure enough we did and we felt good about our chances there,” Peacock said.

With the nine-furlong race run to suit his relentless closing style, Senor Buscador rallied past all the competition bar National Treasure (Quality Road) and not long after the race crossed the finish line, Fincher’s phone was ringing.

“The Saudi people had been talking to us after the Cigar, and of course Todd gets the call, shoot, five minutes after the Pegasus,” said Peacock. We’re standing together after the race and he got the invitation.”

Riyadh Riches

A decided outsider in the $20-million G1 Saudi Cup, consistent form and all, Senor Buscador was so far out of it in the early stages that Peacock and team were struggling to find him.

“I’ll be honest with you. We had no idea where he was,” Peacock admitted. “We watched it from the paddock because we couldn’t get back to our seats. There were so many people at the track that we couldn’t get back to where we were sitting, so we just decided we’d watch it from the paddock and we watched it on the Jumbotron.

“They’ve got the chase car inside the rail videoing the front-runners. But when they came into the stretch, of course anytime he’s running, I’m looking at the middle of the racetrack to try to find something that’s closing and we could see him coming down the middle of the stretch. So yeah, we didn’t get the opportunity to get excited until it was almost over. Our goal for the year was to get Senior Buscador a Grade I win and never dreamed it’d be the Saudi Cup, but heck, if you have to pick one to win, he picked a good one.”

And now it’s on to the World Cup, the second of a two-race lease with Saudi owner Sharaf Mohammed S Al Hariri.

“He’s doing great,” Peacock confirmed. “It was funny. When he went to Saudi, the first few days he was a little lethargic, and I guess it’s just jet lag, just like us. But he started really picking it up after he was there, I think on the third day, and then continued through the race. Oscar, who is Todd Fincher’s right-hand man who’s there with him and gallops him every day said he’s doing great. Galloping great. He’s happy. He’s eating well. He’s training good. I mean, we couldn’t ask for things to be going better at this point.”

Peacock said he has engaged informally with a handful of individuals regarding a potential stud deal.

“I want to see him in Kentucky,”he said. “I mean, I think he deserves that opportunity. Again, right or wrong, we 100% believe in the pedigree and I just think he deserves that opportunity, so we’ll see if we can make it happen or not.”

And what would his dad think of what Senor Buscador has accomplished?

“Oh, wow. Well, first of all, I’m not sure he would’ve ever let Todd take the horse to Saudi,” Peacock chuckled. “I think that’s the first thing. But no, he would be tickled to know that we have a horse that’s running on the world stage that can compete on the world stage and arguably one of the biggest races on the world stage.

“So yeah, I would have to say he would be very excited about that. And the fact that we own the mare and we own every one of his brothers and sisters, it just really makes it that much more special for our family.”

The post Long And Winding Road Lands Senor Buscador On World Stage appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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