Overbrook Farm

Storm Cat.  Anybody who knows modern Thoroughbreds knows that name.  The $500,000 stud fee, the million-dollar yearlings, the incredible success his offspring enjoyed on the track.  But unless you’re involved in the racing industry, you probably don’t know as much about his home, Overbrook Farm.  I admit, I didn’t.  Founded by the late William T. Young, it grew into a marvelous operation by the ’80s and ’90s.  Overbrook horses won virtually every major race at least once during that time span– Derby, Preakness, Belmont, Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile, Fillies, and Classic).  They won at Keeneland, Saratoga, and Santa Anita.  Unfortunately, this past year, Mr. Young’s son decided that his heart wasn’t in the business anymore.  All of Overbrook’s stock was sold this fall (& January) at Keeneland in a dispersal sale handled by Eaton Sales.  That’s what sparked me to look into the grand legend of Overbrook, and I was stunned by the success and achievement.  Even those who follow racing closely may have forgotten some of the Overbrook superstars– because there were so many!  

In today’s Thoroughbred business (as with many in today’s world), it is all-too-common to “buy” into the winner’s circle.  IEAH bought Big Brown as a racing three-year-old, Jess Jackson bought Curlin and Rachel Alexandra also after they started.  It is standard practice to buy horses as yearlings, or at two-year-old sales, as racing prospects.  But Overbrook was different.  With a few exceptions, their racehorses were homebreds.  Overbrook purchased mares; bred those mares; and raced the best offspring.  When those racing fillies (Train Robbery, Seaside Attraction, Flanders, etc) retired, they joined the broodmare band and produced another crop of champions (Cat Thief, Cape Town, Surfside, etc).  And so Overbrook created a dynasty spanning several generations, something that has become almost rare in today’s breed-and-sell, buy-to-race market.  Their bloodlines were cherished, as evident by the $30M their stock brought at Keeneland this fall (in a poor market, no less).  It was sad to see these grand old mares split up and sold off, but most of them stayed in Lexington and will certainly be well-cared for.

OK, enough with the sappy talk.  Let’s celebrate the amazing performances of Overbrook’s extraordinary athletes.  You may not recognize all these names, but I found many of them familiar.  Enjoy the heart and courage displayed by these horses– it’s what horse racing should be. 🙂 

 

Note: this is a 4-part series, about 25 minutes long. If you’re pressed for time, watch the first 5 minutes of Part 1, and skip Part 2. Part 3 is my favorite– I have a soft spot for Flanders and Surfside (both were SO CLASSY when I met them at Keeneland, real queens and they knew it). Part 4 is also great, one super stakes winner after another, culminating in Cat Thief’s Breeder’s Cup.

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