Following the monumental success of the Fasig-Tipton select yearling sale earlier this week, a sale that saw gains in gross sales and in average and median sales price, and at which 14 horses sold for more than $1 million, a record for this sale, attention will now turn to the company’s sale of preferred New York-bred yearlings, set for this coming Sunday and Monday.
On Friday night, New York Thoroughbred Breeders will host its annual awards event, for the first time during the racing season. That afternoon, Saratoga Race Course will run three stakes races for New York-bred horses, each of them worth $125,000. Among those competing is My Boy Tate, an 8-year-old gelding running in the John Morrissey Stakes.
Tate, as he’s called in the barn, has earned nearly $720,000. He’s run 32 times, winning 10 times, finishing second nine times, and finishing third twice. He was bred and is trained by Michelle Nevin, who co-owns him with Little Red Feather Racing.
Nevin was the assistant trainer to Rick Dutrow, who trained Tate’s sire, Boys at Tosconova, and dam, Backslash. In that role, she was given a breeding right to Boys at Tosconova when he retired in 2012 and began his stud career at Questroyal North in Stillwater.
“I galloped both his mama and Boys [at Tosconova], and in my head I decided they’d be a good match,” she said, laughing. “There was no other science to it.”
My Boy Tate ran well enough in his first three starts that Nevin got a call from Little Red Feather, a partnership based in California that was looking to increase its East Coast presence. She remains the majority owner.
The gelding is named for Nevin’s nephew, who lives in Ireland. Though the human Tate has never seen his namesake race, he did visit Saratoga this year and get to meet him — which may have been something of a dubious honor.
“I take my life in my hands with him,” said the trainer. “He’s been a bully since he was a baby. He’s the only one in the barn like this. I always want to cuddle him and he’s like …”
She bared her teeth and lunged, mimicking Tate’s reaction to her effrontery.
That behavior is pretty much the reason that he was gelded young; bloodstock agent and former jockey Rudy Delguidice was working with Tate when the horse was a yearling when Nevin got a call from Delguidice saying that the colt would have to be gelded.
“Even then,” she said, “he was way too rough.”
My Boy Tate is Backslash’s second foal, and Nevin has continued to breed the mare, keeping some to race and selling “the fancier ones.”
“Those are the ones I can’t afford to keep,” she said, because their value at auction or through private sales is too high to turn down.
Her 2019 filly, now named Velvet Sister and co-bred by Godolphin, sold for $165,000 as a yearling and was pinhooked as a two-year-old for $500,000. She raced twice at Saratoga last summer for owner Stonestreet Stables and trainer Steve Asmussen, finishing fourth in the Schuylerville Stakes (G2) and second in the Seeking the Ante Stakes.
All of Backslash’s offspring are New York-bred.
On Friday, My Boy Tate will face five other New York-breds in the John Morrissey, including the multiple graded stakes-placed Ny Traffic, who’s earned nearly $900,000.
Tate finished second in the Morrissey last year and third two years ago; though he’s run well at Saratoga, he hasn’t won here since breaking his maiden in 2017. He’s yet to win a race in three starts this year, but he’s run competitively and Nevin knows him well enough to know when he’ll be ready to retire … which will present its own challenges.
“He’s a fussy guy,” she said. “He’s a horse who doesn’t enjoy being out in a field. He’s had breaks, time off in a field, and he just runs the fence line. He wants to be indoors. So we’ll have to figure something out.”
For now, though, the dark bay is showing no signs of slowing down.
“He’s nice and bright and happy, and he’s still got an attitude,” said Nevin. “As long as he keeps having that attitude, we’ll keep going. And when he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore, we’ll stop.”