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HRN Original Blog:
View From The Bluegrass

Brookdale Farm: Home of Arch's Gal Edith, dam of I'll Have Another

In any given year, there are thousands of Thoroughbreds born in Central Kentucky. Out of them, some will win allowance and claiming races, some others will win stakes races and a few others will win graded stakes races. However, only one will win the Kentucky Derby.

Just a few years ago, you might have driven past any Central Kentucky Thoroughbred farm and you would have seen fields filled with mares and foals. They all look so cute, running around and playing with the other foals and their moms. What you don't see, what you don't know, however, is what lies in their future, as one of them, if everything lines up right, just might turn out to be a Kentucky Derby winner.


That is exactly what happened to the Seitz family, owners of Brookdale Farm, just outside of Versailles.


To get to Brookdale Farm, you go up Main Street past the Versailles Municipal Building/Court House, then at the first light, you take a left on Elm Street. From there you drive a little way down the road and it turns into McCracken Pike.


It’s at that point where you are transported back to a time when the world was not in such a rush, where people didn’t try and pass you because you were driving too slow, when life moved at a slower pace and things seemingly were more peaceful, more relaxed.


It is here, tucked away in this little corner of Kentucky that you will find Brookdale Farm, a quiet, hidden gem of a Thoroughbred breeding farm where a family staked their claim to a piece of land and turned it into a very successful business. It is here where you can see mares and foals run free over lush green pastures, and it was here where 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another was born in 2009 to Arch's Gal Edith, one of the mares boarded at the farm.

 

Brookdale began in 1983 when Fred Seitz and his wife, Peppe, started a farm, raised their children and created a masterpiece. It is where Fred's sons, Freddy and Joe, continue the traditions of the farm, caring and raising the horses to prepare them for sale.

"(I) came here in ’74 right out of the service and was managing a smallish-farm in Lexington out on Tates Creek Road, which is no longer there," Fred Seitz explained. "I managed that farm for two years, and one day made a breeding trip. I was driving a pick-up with a trailer, and taking a mare to a breeding shed, and I came into Versailles for the first time. I drove up to the courthouse light, and I looked around and I turned right. I don’t remember which stud farm I was going to, but I had that very clear feeling that this was the place I wanted to wind up and live. It was a very strong feeling.

"I managed that farm (in Lexington), as I said, for a couple years, and then I worked at Fasig Tipton after that for a couple years. … But during the time in between, when I left the farm, we bought the house, the current house, (and have) been there ever since; since ’76. (We) bought the house and eight acres here on McCracken. Then leased a farm out on Route 60, then leased another farm on Lawrenceburg Road. Then, eventually, (we) started to buy in ’83, the beginnings of this property.


"Today, Brookdale Farm consists of 375 acres that the Seitzes own, and another 125 acres that they lease.


At first, we were a full-service broodmare operation only, with the first stallion added in ’86. Later came one of the great one ones, two-time leading sire, Deputy Minister, as well as Crafty Prospector, Forest Wildcat and Silver Deputy. However, about five or six years ago, because of the costs involved in buying stallions, they changed to the business they are today, a breeding and sales preparation facility only.


That is where the story of one of the mares on the farm, Arch's Gal Edith, and the birth of I'll Have Another comes to the forefront.

About eight to 10 years ago, Harvey Clarke and Fred became partners in race horses and subsequent broodmares. After one of Clarke's race mares, Arch's Gal Edith, got injured after her first race, she came to the farm as a broodmare prospect.

"She got injured after her first race on the track, and it was just a natural," said Freddy Seitz, Brookdale's general manager and yearling manager. "Back then we were one of his boarding farms, so he sent the mare to our farm to get bred and it was pretty much just that simple. It was time for her to become a broodmare, and he just called us and said, she needs to come to your  farm, can you get her? She’s here and she’s been here ever since."


Arch's Gal Edith, who is by Arch out of Force Five Gal, by Pleasant Tap, is a beautiful, sweet, brown/dark brown mare, who enjoys her days grazing out in her paddock.


"The assistant manager, Victor Espinoza, says she’s the easiest mare in the field," said Joe Seitz, Brookdale's director of sales. "All you have to have is a bucket, and she’ll follow you all over the place."


Eventually, in a conversation with Clarke, Freddy Seitz made the suggestion to breed Arch's Gal Edith to Three Chimneys Farm's Flower Alley, which produced I'll Have Another.


"Sometimes he’ll (Harvey Clarke) have choices already, and sometimes he’s looking for suggestions," Freddy said. "It just happened that year he was open to suggestions about that mare, and we were discussing a price range, and Flower Alley fit the price range and fit the pedigree, so that’s how it worked that year."


As to what he saw in Flower Alley that got him to make the suggestion, Freddy said that, "I liked the price of the stallion for this mare. And, I liked the pedigree. I always like Flower Alley as a stallion. I liked him as a stallion prospect actually while he was still running. I thought he would make a good stallion prospect because he was well bred, he could carry speed over a long distance and was very well conformed. And, it just seemed like that was the type of horse that would work for any mare, including Arch’s Gal Edith. You want a stallion that had good breeding, and some good stamina with some speed and he looks the part."


The resulting foal, the third one for Arch's Gal Edith, would eventually be named I'll Have Another. But, at the start, according to Freddy, there was nothing that made anyone think the foal would be a great race horse.


"He was kind of leggy, (and) narrow-chested," Freddy said. "He was always a good mover, which there are a lot of horses that we call a good mover. But, he was a really good mover and there was nothing wrong with him besides he just didn’t look like the prototypical, big-ticket, sales yearling. He was just kind of an immature, leggy, thin type of a horse, which happens every year. There’s horses that look like that every year, and there’s horses that look like they’re worth tons of money as yearlings."


After they are born, a foal like I'll Have Another spends his days out in the fields with his mother, running, nursing and learning to be a horse. Eventually, after around four months, he is weaned from his mother and that' s when the next phase of their lives begin, as they are prepared for the sales.


"We participate in six sales a year, starting in January for a mixed sale, and then possibly four yearling sales through the summer and fall, and then a broodmare sale at Keeneland in November," Joe said.


Preparing a foal, such as I'll Have Another, for the sales takes time, care and planning of each step in the process, from feeding, to the amount of time they spend outside, to making sure they are used to being handled by people. The ultimate goal, of course, is making them look their best for the auction ring.


"The babies … from when they’re weanlings until the prep season, they grow up outside, out in the field, eating pasture, eating some grain and some hay during the winter," Freddy said. "But, we like them to be out in the pasture as much as we can, around 22 to 23 hours a day. Until we have to sales prep them.


"When we do that, we have to rely more on hay and grain, and we have to keep the horses inside for half of their time," he continued. "They have to be inside during the day. The sun bleaches their coats, and it also probably takes a lot out of them; beating down on them. To ensure proper exercise and fitness, we put them on a walker or exerciser, and they’ll jog around in circles for a set amount of time. Basically, what we’re trying to do is get their coats shiny, get their muscle toned up, and get fit, so that when they go out to the sales, they look and feel like little race horses. Like they’re ready to begin a new career of training.


"People want to see a horse, they want to see it at its best. So, you have to spend two or three months (in) what we call prepping, getting them to look that way. They look pretty good out in the fields during the other months, but you can make them look really good by putting a little shine on them and getting them fit. So, that’s how the prep works. It’s about two-and-a-half to three months of extra work. … They (also) get groomed every day. They’ll even get baths. They already get their feet picked and stuff like that every day, but we work with them more during the prep season."


Then, come sales time, they are sent to Keeneland, for example, which is where Joe begins his work.


"We'll sell about 60 to 75 yearling a year," Joe said. "And, that year, (the year with I'll Have Another), we sold 50 yearlings."


As for the sale itself, Joe and his team of 10 people work the barn during the sale, showing their horses to prospective buyers and getting them ready to head to the pavilion for the auction.


"When they’re out there, it’s harvest time," Joe said. "It’s kind of the way I like to describe it, because you raise these crops of yearlings every year, and normally they go to Keeneland September (sale) and that’s when everything’s has to be right. If they’ve got bumps or bruises or problems or X-ray issues, you try to get everything just right for when they go to their runway so-to-speak and sell themselves."


Then, come auction time, the horses are taken one-by-one, walked around the auction ring, where buyers can get one last look at them before they are taken to the sales pavilion.


"I stand right in the back, right before they go in (to the sales pavilion)," Joe said. "They open the big door and let the horse in, and I’m right there in case they have any last minute questions."


That year, I'll Have Another was sold for $11,000. A year later, I'll Have Another was sold again, this time at a sale in Ocala for $35,000 to J. Paul Reddam.


Then, on Saturday, May 5, he charged down the long Churchill Downs stretch, overtook Bodemeister, another Brookdale Farm graduate, and crossed the finish line into the history books as the 138th winner of the Kentucky Derby.


So, what does it mean for Brookdale Farm to have had a Kentucky Derby winning horse bred on their farm?


"It validates the farm," Joe said. "We’ve sold a lot of good horses over the years that have gone all over the world and won races at the highest level. We’ve stood champion sires, champion stallions. My father’s a trainer. He’s trained good horses, won good races. But, the one question that you always get asked, where ever you are in the country, is, ‘Have you ever had a Derby winner.’ And, now we can say we have."



(This article was first published in the May 17, 2012 edition of The Woodford Sun, a weekly newspaper in Versailles, Ky., where Rick Capone is the Sports Editor.)

 

 

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Older Comments about Brookdale Farm: Home of Arch's Gal Edith, dam of I'll Have Another...

I had the pleasure of selling her as a yearling the same year I sold Flower Alley as a yearling. Nonessential fact of the day.
I had the good fortune to be there. Nothing compares to see them in person. Magnificent animals.
She's definitely a beauty! I'm surprised there isn't talk of trying for another I'll Have Another! Like that hasn't been written yet! :)
She's a beauty. Look at that dappling!
I enjoyed this so much. I know how difficlut it can be to get/prepare a young animal ready. You did a remarkable job!!!
Good to get to know mom better ... Wonderful story, Rick!

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Meet Rick Capone
                                  
Rick Capone has been a horse racing fan since the Saturday afternoon when he saw Riva Ridge, his all-time favorite horse, win the Kentucky Derby on television.
 
Today, he is the sports editor for The Woodford Sun, a weekly newspaper in Versailles, Ky., a town just outside of Lexington and only 15 minutes away from Keeneland.
 
In addition to his duties at the Sun, Rick is a volunteer at Old Friends, the thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown that is owned by Michael Blowen. He even is part owner of one of the retirees there, Miss Hooligan, the grand daughter of 1988 Eclipse Award – Champion Turf Horse, Sunshine Forever, who is also on the farm.
 
Rick grew up in Havertown, Pa., just outside of West Philadelphia. At 20, he moved to South Florida with his family and lived a stones throw from Gulfstream. After some stops in North Carolina, Georgia and California, he currently lives in Georgetown, Ky., where he gets to drive by some of the greatest horse farms in the world on his way to work every morning.
 

(Photo: Miss Hooligan and Rick at Old Friends this past December. (Photo by Steve Blake)