If you’ve been around the horse biz for very long, you know it’s FULL of improbabilities and that’s part of what makes it so much fun and, at times, so frustrating. Well, sit back and we’ll tell you our new/old Improbable Story….
It starts in the early 1970s when a horse named Brigadier Gerard won seventeen of his eighteen career races to be rated by some as the best racehorse trained in Britain in the 20th century. Sadly, he did not replicate himself at stud, except that a son of his named General (FR) showed promise at 2 and caught the eye of one Diane Perkins.
When General (FR) did not run on, she was able to purchase him and he made his way to stud in Argentina. There General (FR) bred a mare recently purchased by Peter and Diane Perkins via their San Francisco de Pila farm near Buenos Aires, and on October 1, 1980 Lord At War was foaled.
Lord At War (ARG) was undefeated in three starts in his native Argentina, culminating with a win in the Gran Premio Joaquin S. Anchorena going a mile on the turf. He was not only making his stakes debut, but he was making his second start in just eight days, and was a 3-year-old running against older horses in the most important mile race of the Argentine calendar! As a result, he was the Champion Miler of Argentina for 1983.
The Perkinses brought their star to North America to be trained by the great Charlie Whittingham. Lord At War (ARG) raced on dirt and turf and won or placed in ten stakes but his biggest win was the Santa Anita Handicap-G1.
The Santa Anita Handicap is not just a Grade I race. It is also known as “The Big ‘Cap”. It is certainly the best known of the Santa Anita races and its first running was in 1935 – just months after Santa Anita opened.
Seabiscuit’s career is epitomized by The Big ‘Cap. In Seabiscuit’s first two attempts to win it in 1937 and 1938, he lost in two photo finishes, with the second loss to a horse carrying 30 pounds less than he was. He suffered what was believed to be a career-ending injury while preparing for the 1939 Big ‘Cap. BUT Seabiscuit came back to run in The Big ‘Cap in 1940, finally winning the Santa Anita Handicap in the grand old horse’s very last race.
The 50th Anniversary of the Big ‘Cap was won by Lord at War (ARG) in 1985 before Santa Anita’s largest crowd in history of 85,527 people. Bill Shoemaker holds the record for “Most Wins by a Jockey in the Santa Anita Handicap” with 11. Charlie Whittingham holds the record for “Most Wins by a Trainer in the Santa Anita Handicap” with 9. In 1985, Bill Shoemaker rode Lord At War (ARG) in Shoemaker’s final Big ‘Cap win. For trainer Whittingham, Lord At War’s was his sixth Big ‘Cap win.
The field included morning line favorite Gate Dancer, Lord At War at 5 to 2, Greinton at 3 to 1, Hail Bold King (bred by racing’s aristocracy C.V. Whitney) at 5 to 1 and the gutsy and accomplished filly Life’s Magic at 15 to 1.
Lord At War (ARG) retired to Walmac Stud in 1986 alongside Nureyev, Alleged, Miswaki and others. When the bloodstock market suffered a downturn in the late 1980’s and his runners were not proving to be precocious 2-year-olds, he was nudged out of the prestigious stallion operation.
Sooooo, Diane and Peter Perkins built a four-stall stallion barn and breeding shed at the very highest point of their Wimborne Farm on Winchester Road for Lordy (as Mrs. Perkins called him). The farm was right next to Claiborne Farm and across the road from the historic acres of Brutus Clay’s Auvergne Farm. It was a gutsy move, but Diane Perkins believed in her horse and proceeded to personally manage his stallion career. More about that in another blog post, I promise!
Fast forward to last year. Within days after Glenn Sorgenstein and Josh Kaplan of W.C. Racing bought the Wimborne Farm acreage in July 2016, Diane Perkins’ Kasaqui (ARG) won the Arlington H.-G3 and earned a spot in last year’s Arlington Million.
She said then to The Blood-Horse that it was a race she had dreamed of running in. “We hoped to do it with Lord At War, but he had a little setback.” Kasaqui (ARG) ran second in last year’s Million, closing late to be beaten a neck by Mondaliste (FR).
Meanwhile Glenn and Josh have diligently and faithfully followed the Wimborne legacy in creating Wilshire Farm — building spacious, luxuriant fields and paddocks. They’ve forged an advantageous partnership with Charles and Lyra Miller, who 12 years earlier purchased the front acreage of Wimborne. Chuck and Lyra have overseen and documented the renovations – spending each dollar as if it were their own. (That’s a huge asset for absentee owners.) And Glenn and Josh have had the vision to even restore the small stallion barn that Lord At War built (so to speak…see above).
Tomorrow Kasaqui (ARG) will again start in the Arlington Million-G1 at Arlington Park. He’s coming off a troubled third in the Arlington H.-G3, a sweeping win in the Wise Dan H.-G2 at Churchill in June and two placings from five starts between last year’s Million and the Wise Dan.
Kasaqui (ARG) was bred by Diane Perkins’ San Francisco de Pilar (remember?….foaling place of Lord At War!) and races for her Wimborne Farm. He is by Lasting Approval, whose Broodmare sire is Lord at War (ARG). Triple Crown winner AMERICAN PHAROAH is by Pioneerof the Nile, whose Broodmare sire is Lord at War (ARG).
Anyone for an “improbable bet” tomorrow????