Bobby Zen

HONG KONG, CHINA — Follow this, if you will.

A filly bred in America and purchased for a very reasonable sum as a yearling is exported to Ireland, punches above her weight at the races and is sold to Australia for her second career. A few years after her arrival, she is covered there by a notable successful Northern Hemisphere shuttle stallion, makes trips through the sales ring in Australia and New Zealand and goes on to become arguably the best animal to ever look through a bridle in Hong Kong.

The bloodstock world really is a small place, isn’t it?

Most everyone has followed the career of Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d’Oro), who makes what could be the final start of a history-making career in Sunday’s G1 FWD Champions Mile at Sha Tin Racecourse. Fewer would be aware that his dam Gaudeamus (Distorted Humor), bred in Kentucky by Manganaro LLC, was nurtured through the early portion of her career by the legendary Jim Bolger, who acquired the daughter of the stakes-placed Leo’s Lucky Lady–herself by 1977 American Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew–for just $60,000 through the late Richard Galpin’s Newmarket International agency at the 2005 Keeneland September Sale in Lexington.

“Well, it was purely pedigree first,” Bolger explained earlier this week when asked what attracted him to the filly, whose sire had been represented just two years earlier by GI Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide from his first crop to race.

Indeed, there was plenty to recommend the filly’s catalogue page from a European perspective. Gaudeamus’s granddam was Konafa (Damascus), runner-up in the G1 One Thousand Guineas in 1976, who excelled in the breeding shed, accounting for Proskona (Mr Prospector), winner of group races in France and Italy; Keos (Riverman), a three-time group scorer and thrice placed in Group 1 company in France as well as a Group 2 winner in Germany; and, perhaps most significantly, Korveya (Riverman), a Group 3 victress in France and later the dam of Group 1 winners Bosra Sham (Woodman, champion), Hector Protector (Woodman, champion) and Shanghai (Procida). Korveya would go on to top the 1998 Keeneland November Sale on a bid of a then-record $7 million while carrying to Woodman.

“I got somebody to look at her and the report was good, so we decided to go ahead with it,” Bolger said of Gaudeamus. “As they say, she ticked all the boxes and she was a very good-looking mare. She had just about everything. There’s nothing you would want to change about her. And she had a temperament to go with all the physical characteristics. We were happy with the price.”

Gaudeamus (Gow-day-AH-mus), which loosely translated means ‘let us rejoice,’ was a quick study, Bolger said.

“Well, we had her broken when she got home around sometime in October, and by January she was well muscled up and she looked like one that could be early,” he explained. “If memory serves, we ran her early in May and she won first time out.”

Gaudeamus carried Kevin Manning to a one-length debut win over 19 other rivals going six furlongs in yielding ground at Naas in May 2006 and won a listed stakes over seven at the Curragh at the end of June. A close fourth in the G3 Anglesey S. in her first try at group level, she defeated Dimenticata (Ire) (Danetime {Aus}) for a career high in the G2 Debutante S. at Leopardstown. The latter would go on to finish runner-up to the Bolger-conditioned Finsceal Beo (Ire) (Mr Greeley) in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas the following spring, with Gaudeamus well down the field in eighth in the penultimate start of her career.

“I never really got her where I wanted to get her to as a 3-year-old,” Bolger said. “She didn’t manage to win as a 3-year-old, but we felt she’d done plenty as a 2-year-old.”

Taking Money Off The Table

As successful a breeder as he is a trainer, Bolger could easily have retained Gaudeamus for his broodmare band, but ultimately decided to let her go for reasons ‘purely financial.’

“When you’re getting battered every day by billionaires, somebody like me has to generate some revenue,” he reasoned.

After a fair bit of back and forth, Bolger struck a deal with Sheamus Mills, a young bloodstock agent from Australia. Mills said that the mare’s appeal was very clear.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Distorted Humor as a broodmare sire influence–in fact that whole Forty Niner sire line holds interest for me,” Mills explained. “He had a good influence on the Australian market from fairly limited exposure [as a shuttle stallion].

“Combine that with Gaudeamus being a Group 2-winning 2-year-old and she was a fairly obvious one for the Australian market who love speed and precocity.”

And talk about making your mark. Gaudeamus was Mills’s very first purchase after going out on his own.

“I was ahead of the times as there was little interest in importing racing prospects in those days–something that became so commonplace shortly after I returned to Australia,” Mills said.

Jim and Jackie Bolger | Racingfotos

Bolger recollected: “He [Mills] just came looking for her. We eventually agreed on the price. I think it was a little protracted, but it worked out in the end. And certainly worked out for him, and I was delighted for her.”

Bolger reported that the deal was done for €500,000, and he had every confidence that Gaudeamus could become a significant broodmare.

He said: “She was the ideal type. As I said, you couldn’t find fault with her. Her 2-year-old race record was good enough for any broodmare prospect.”

Gaudeamus was bred to Pivotal (GB) to Southern Hemisphere time prior to her export to Australia. Having produced the listed-placed Igitur (Aus) (Helmet {Aus}) from her first few foals, Gaudeamus was purchased by Josh Hutchins Bloodstock for A$160,000 (US$123,776) at the 2015 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale in foal to Medaglia d’Oro. She was led out unsold on a bid of A$75,000 at the same auction two years later, a decision that will be judged once and for all by the Australian bloodstock community in a month’s time.

That’s when Gaudeamus, in foal to dual Group 1 winner Home Affairs (Aus) (I Am Invincible {Aus}) (lot 761), and her yearling filly by Wootton Bassett (GB) (lot 586) go under the hammer as part of the unreserved dispersal of the Hutchins family’s Element Hill at the National Broodmare Sale on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Golden Sixty has carried the pedigree further afield, as he was hammered down for A$120,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale before being resold for NZ$300,000 at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale in 2017, where he was purchased by his current trainer Francis Lui for owner Stanley Chan. Twenty-six wins, including 10 at Group 1 level, and US$21 million in prize money later, the end–apparently–is near.

Bolger, Mills Living Vicariously

For his part, Bolger downplays the role he has played in the career of Golden Sixty.

“It wasn’t just me,” he said. “I’m always conscious when somebody comes up with a good racehorse, that there are probably hundreds of people involved all down the years, and with one of them it might not be, as it turns out, at that particular time. So just about anybody who has a hand in making or causing such an animal to be born in the first place has a huge part in it. That’s the nature of the business.”

Added Mills: “It’s been a lot of fun watching Golden Sixty develop. The main feeling is one of nostalgia, as Jim Bolger made me work hard to get that deal done and I’ll always be grateful to my client Bob Scarborough for setting me on my path, as I think I was down to my last 10 or 20 quid when the news came through the deal was done!”

Bolger had the final word.

“Well, I’d like to say well done to everybody involved, both in Australia and Hong Kong. Obviously, they’ve managed Golden Sixty brilliantly. That’s no mean achievement.”

The post Golden Sixty A True Global Sensation appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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