Jersey-Bred Star Horologist is Off to Japan

Jersey-Bred Star Horologist is Off to Japan

by Bill Finley

   A racing career that began with a 20 3/4-length win in a 2018 maiden race at Monmouth and included six stakes wins, three of them in graded company, came to an end earlier this month when the pride of the New Jersey breeding program, Horologist, finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar.  

   But a new and exciting chapter began just a few days later. The 5-year-old mare was bought by Japan’s Katsumi Yoshida for $800,000 at the Keeneland November sale and will take up residence at Yoshida’s Northern Farm as a broodmare. Northern Farm is the preeminent breeder in Japan, which means that Horologist will be bred to one of that country’s leading stallions.

   After Yoshida’s father, Zenya, died in 1993, his three sons each went out on their own, establishing their own farms. Northern Farm opened in 1994 and became the premier breeding farm in Japan. The farm was the leading breeder in Japan every year from 2004 through 2008 and again from 2011 through 2020. 

   The Yoshida brothers also operate, in partnership, Shadai Stallion Station, home to many of the top stallions in the sport, a list that includes U.S. Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day and multiple Grade I winning sprinter Mine Your Biscuits. Northern Farm is the breeder of Loves Only You and Marche Lorraine, Japan’s two winners at the Breeders’ Cup.

   Yoshida came to the fall breeding stock sales on a mission, intent on building up his broodmare band with pricey U.S. acquisitions. Between Keeneland November and Fasig-Tipton November, he bought eight mares for a total cost of $14.375 million. The list includes Eclipse Award winner Swiss Skydiver ($4.7 million) and Grade I winner Princess Noor ($2.9 million).

   “We always want to buy mares from around the world so that we can always diversify our pedigree line,” said Shingo Hashimoto, Northern Farm’s manager of international affairs. “So this is nothing new for us, we are just doing what we always do.”

   In Horologist, they saw a horse that checked a number of boxes, starting, but not ending, with her racing record.

   “When we saw the catalogue for Keeneland November, we noticed that Horologist would be racing in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff,” Hashimoto said.

“And when we saw Horologist in the paddock (at Del Mar), we were attracted by how strong she looked. When we saw her again at Keeneland, her smooth walking and the conformation that she has was something special for us, so we put her on our short list.”

   Co-owner Cameron Beatty said the $800,000 price tag exceeded expectations.  

   “When it comes to her pedigree, she doesn’t really have a page,” he said. “She is the pedigree. We were thinking around $600,00, $650,000, but she looked extremely good, which helped her cause. She beat a lot of really good horses over her career. That’s why we think the price went up to $800,000. Given a better run in the Breeders’ Cup, she would have brought closer to $1 million.” 

   Hashimoto said it has not been decided who Horologist will be bred to, which may not happen until the last minute come next breeding season.

   “We basically decide the covering plans in the morning of the breeding day depending on the stallions availability, etc.,” he said.

   Beatty was there at the start, when a first-time starter by Gemologist trained by the late John Mazza and bred by Holly Crest Farm burst on the scene with her 20-plus-length romp in 2018. She wouldn’t win again that year but came back at three as a better horse. After she beat state breds in the Smart N Classy Handicap, she picked up her first graded win when taking down the Grade III Monmouth Oaks in 2019. 

   Beatty decided to take some money off the table and sold 75% of the filly to a group that included Medallion Racing, Abbondanza Racing, LLC and Parkland Thoroughbreds. The new owners transferred Horologist to California-based trainer Richie Baltas, who failed to win a race with her in five tries. 

   Horologist was then brought back to the East and turned over to Bill Mott, a move that rejuvenated her career. For Mott, in 2020, she won the Grade III Molly Pitcher and the Grade II Beldame and finished third in the Grade I La Troienne. The owners supplemented her to the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she finished ninth. 

   As a 5-year-old, she won the Top Flight Invitational and the Summer Colony Stakes before finishing second in the Beldame. She finished her career with a record of nine wins from 27 starts and earnings of $962,939.

   “There’s nothing else like it,” Beatty said. “She definitely took me for the ride of a lifetime. She owed me nothing so her not running well in the Breeders’ Cup meant absolutely nothing. She came back healthy, which is all that mattered. She looked amazing at the sale and she’ll be in good hands with the Japanese. She was something else. Now it’s time to find another one.”