The death of the “Lion of Wall Street” sent a rising colt unexpectedly into a Maryland auction where it fetched a sale-high $850,000 from former U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady.
Trappe Shot, unbeaten in four starts this year, will challenge Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness Stakes victor Lookin At Lucky in the Aug. 1 Haskell Invitational at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park. A win in the 1 1/8-mile race would put him among the top 3-year-olds in North America.
“I let the horse do the talking,” Brady said in a telephone interview. “I’m not in that game.”
Trappe Shot is the co-second choice with Super Saver at 3-1 in morning-line odds, behind Lookin at Lucky at 5-2. Eight horses are entered.
The colt, a Chestnut then known as Tashop, was among the thoroughbreds owned by Jack Dreyfus, the founder of the Dreyfus Fund who operated Hobeau Farm in Ocala, Florida. When Dreyfus died on March 27, 2009, at 95, the family began selling the horses.
“Jack Dreyfus had a quality stable,” said Brady, 80, now chairman of Washington-based Darby Overseas Investments Ltd. and owner of Mill House LLC racing stable. “He was a force in horseracing. He did things right.”
Less than two months after Dreyfus died, Brady visited the fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland, before the Fasig-Tipton auction to take a look at the standout colt from champion sire Tapit. He then gave the nod to his bloodstock agent, Steve Young, who had trained horses for 25 years.
“He was the best bred in the sale,” Young, 48, said in a telephone interview. “The main thing that attracted us were the mechanics of the way he moves. This horse would have never been in this sale except that Mr. Dreyfus passed away. The horse was put into this sale as an afterthought.”
The Florida-bred colt would more likely have been sent to Fasig-Tipton’s sale at Calder Casino and Race Course in Miami Gardens, except that auction had been held only weeks before Dreyfus’s death and the estate executors were anxious to sell the stock, Young said.
The unraced thoroughbred attracted the attention of five bidders, said Young, whose offer of $850,000 wasn’t challenged.
“I don’t think we were done,” he said without disclosing how much Mill House was willing to pay for Trappe Shot, now one of six horses in Brady’s racing stable.
Dreyfus’s horses became known for upsets in thoroughbred racing during the 1960s and ‘70s. Beau Purple defeated five-time Horse of the Year Kelso in three meetings, including the Man ‘o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park in 1962.
During Triple Crown-champion Secretariat’s reign as Horse of the Year, Hobeau Farm’s Onion beat the 3-year-old in the Whitney Stakes at New York’s Saratoga Race Course in 1973, while Dreyfus’s Prove Out won that year’s Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park.
Trappe Shot didn’t have such a stunning debut at Saratoga 12 months ago, finishing last of five runners.
“Anything that could go wrong did,” said Young, who has worked for Brady for 15 months. “He just needed time to grow up and mature.”
Brady had turned Trappe Shot over to Kiaran McLaughlin to train for his debut. McLaughlin said that after the horse recovered from a stumble out of the gate at Saratoga, jockey Alan Garcia ran out of goggles and was riding blind.
“He just had a rough trip,” the 49-year-old trainer said in a telephone interview.
McLaughlin was prepping Trappe Shot for April’s Withers Stakes in Jamaica, New York, to increase the colt’s winnings for entry to the Kentucky Derby when an ankle inflammation interrupted his workout schedule and he missed the race.
“Brady wasn’t putting any pressure on me,” said McLaughlin. “But we were playing catch-up again.”
Trappe Shot began his winning streak on Feb. 21 in his second start, crossing the finish line at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, 10 1/4 lengths in front. A month later, the colt won by 12 3/4 lengths in an allowance race at Gulfstream and then scored a 4-length win June 5 in a seven-furlong trip on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
In his July 10 stakes debut in the $167,500 Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth, he scored a 2 1/2-length victory in his first race around two turns.
McLaughlin said he usually prefers his horses to have more than three weeks between races.
“But he won easily and this is the same track, the same surface,” he said. “If he wins, he’ll move into the top five 3-year-olds.”
If history repeats itself from 1975 and 2000, Trappe Shot’s chances of becoming a 3-year-old male champion are good. During those years, three different horses won the Derby, Preakness and Belmont races -- the same as in 2010 -- and the winners of the Eclipse Awards for 3-year-old males, Tiznow and Wajima, had never started in a Triple Crown race -- just like Trappe Shot. Brady, whose family has been in the thoroughbred business for a century, said he’ll be at the Haskell “looking for a win” from Trappe Shot.
McLaughlin is pointing the colt toward the Aug. 28 Travers Stakes at Saratoga and a spot in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, in November.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” he said.