Bobby Zen

Vlahos (r, 3, Kantharos–Must Be Dreaming, by Run Away and Hide), a razor sharp debut winner for owner Dan Northrup and trainer Luis Mendez with a 98 Beyer Speed Figure at Santa Anita Mar. 9, has been purchased privately by Ty Leatherman and Todd Cady and transferred to Doug O’Neill. The sale price was not disclosed.

The chestnut, a steal for $35,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, is aiming to make his next start in the $600,000 GII Pat Day Mile S. on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He has posted three workouts since joining the O’Neill barn, most recently stopping the clock for five furlongs in 1:02.20 (33/45) in Arcadia Apr. 13.

The news was first reported by Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen.

“He came over to us in great shape with an eye-popping debut,” O’Neill said. “Sometimes when you get a horse like that your expectations are so high that they never live up to them. But so far, he’s a beast. He’s a big, good-looking colt with a great mind. His one stride is an average horse’s stride and a half–he covers a lot of ground. We’re just super excited and optimistic.”

Cady, Leatherman and O’Neill recently teamed up to win the G2 Godolphin Mile with Two Rivers Over (Tamarkuz) on the Dubai World Cup undercard at Meydan. Cady and Leatherman claimed Two Rivers Over for just $30,000 out of a maiden claimer at Ellis Park last June.

“Both great guys,” O’Neill said. “I’ve trained for Ty for, geez, 15-20 years maybe. We got lucky and won the Japan Cup Dirt with a horse named Fleetstreet Dancer back in 2003. He took a little hiatus from the business and came back bigger than ever a few years back. I was so grateful that he called me to reunite. He’s been great.”

O’Neill continued, “Todd Cady I’ve trained for the past couple of years. He’s awesome. The great thing with Ty and Todd, they both know the sport really well and they’re both successful businessmen. They’ve got a good approach and a good sense of being patient and doing the right thing. Both great guys to train for and we’ve been lucky so far.”

The two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer and the aforementioned duo have had success buying off Mendez and Northrup before. Like Vlahos, last year’s GI Cotillion S. Ceiling Crusher (Mr. Big) was acquired privately by a group including Cady and Leatherman and transferred to O’Neill following a debut score for Mendez and Northrup at Santa Anita.

Mendez was also the original trainer of the talented sprinter and young Taylor Made stallion Dr. Schivel (Violence), who was purchased privately and moved to trainer Mark Glatt for his 3-year-old season.

“We’re all pretty friendly with Luis Mendez and (his business partner and bloodstock agent) John Brocklebank, two really sharp horsemen,” O’Neill said.

“After his debut we had heard that they were willing to take on a couple of partners if anyone would be interested. We reached out to John and Luis and got a deal done. Two of the gentlemen that were in on him in the debut are still in–Dan Northrup and Greg Pappas. It’s four good guys and most importantly a really good horse.”

Overlooked at 13-1 in his unveiling, the blinkered Vlahos was hustled to the front by Edwin Maldonado from his rail draw and sped through fractions of :21.47 and :43.69 in the 6 1/2-furlong affair. He began to give them the slip on the far turn, switched over to his right lead as they straightened for home and kept on motoring down the stretch to win impressively by 4 1/2 lengths.

Vlahos’s form was further flattered when the third-place finisher that day Ball Don’t Lie (Blame) returned to graduate with a 97 Beyer Speed Figure for Glatt at Santa Anita Apr. 6.

Vlahos’s sire Kantharos is responsible for nine graded/group winners worldwide. Vlahos, bred in Kentucky by John Bates, Ron Kirk and Greg McDonald, is the first to the races for the two-time winner Must Be Dreaming, a full-sister to Canadian champion Are You Kidding Me. The 10-year-old mare Must Be Dreaming was purchased by Denali Stud for $40,000 while in foal to Tiz the Law at the 2023 Keeneland January Sale. Must Be Dreaming produced a colt by Tiz the Law last year and was bred to Charlatan for 2024.

“There’s no buyer’s remorse at this point,” O’Neill concluded. “We’re excited. We’re definitely throwing him into the deep end. But he just acts like that horse that is more mature than his race record would say.”

Race 4 at Santa Anita went to #1 VLAHOS, who produced a 13-1 upset over 9-1 runner up #4 Feel the Magic.@MaldonadoJockey up for trainer Luis Mendez on the son of Kantharos.

— TVG (@TVG) March 9, 2024

The post Flashy Debut Winner Vlahos, Now with Doug O’Neill, Targeting Pat Day Mile for New Connections appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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