Four legs, two legs, it doesn’t matter at Gallagher’s Stud in
Ghent — they know how to breed runners.
The 500-acre breeding operation a few miles south of Kinderhook in the middle of Columbia County has had a pretty interesting 2008 with not only the thoroughbreds who have come on and off the farm, but also with a racer of the human species, Emory Mort, the son of farm manager Mallory Mort and his wife, Karen.
In November, Emory Mort won the Gazette Stockade-athon and the 10k portion of the Troy Turkey Trot, and is staying sharp this winter so he can compete in the U.S. Cross Country Championships in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 7 and the USATF 15k national championship on the roads in Jacksonville, Fla., on March 21. He qualified for free travel arrangements to that race by winning the Stockade-athon, the East Region championship.
Meanwhile, life on the farm has been a little more hectic than it’s supposed to be in December, since Gallagher’s Stud lost electricity last Friday in the ice storm, and didn’t get the power restored until Wednesday.
Mallory Mort has seen it all, though. He met his wife when they were students at Penn State, and has been working for Gallagher’s Stud since 1979, a year after graduating from the program that was then called animal production. He was promoted to farm manager in 2005, and oversees a staff of 10 full-time workers at the spread owned by Marlene Brody, the widow of Jerry Brody. They keep 18 mares of their own, and a few others for various clients.
Among the horses bred at Gallagher’s who have won this year are Icabad Crane, who joined the Triple Crown trail after winning the Federico Tesio in the spring, and Borrowing Base, who won a high-quality $100,000 allowance at Saratoga Race Course and survived a claim of foul to take the final running of The Ladies at Aqueduct last Sunday.
Also, Gallagher’s can chalk one up — for good, this time — for Rahy’s Appeal, 16 months after the fact. In March, New York state Supreme Court judge Vincent Reilly backed up the state Racing and Wagering Board’s ruling that overturned the outcome of the 2006 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct.
Rahy’s Appeal won the race by three lengths over Malibu Mint, but was disqualified by the track stewards because jockey Alan Garcia, on Rahy’s Appeal, accidentally hit Malibu Mint in the face with his whip as they flew by in the stretch.
The Racing and Wagering Board said Rahy’s Appeal shouldn’t have been disqualified, and Reilly turned down an appeal by Malibu Mint’s owners, giving the $60,000 winner’s share to Marlene Brody. Rahy’s Appeal, indeed.
Now, Mort and Gallagher’s Stud are looking forward to 2009. They’ll begin foaling in January; one of their yearlings, a son of Street Cry out of Soundtrack, was bought by Darley Stable for $400,000 at Keeneland September; and they bred a promising 2-year-old trained by Amanda Perret named Classic Vintage, out of Cellars Shiraz, who won two of three this year in England, and will be pointed toward the classic distances.
“We bought Cellars Shiraz three, four years ago,” Mort said. “She lost her first foal, who, unfortunately, had a respiratory problem in Kentucky and died, but she’s got a
2-year-old in England that they think quite a bit of, and we retained a 25 percent interest in him. He’s off for the winter in Europe and needs some more maturing, the idea being that he’ll be a classic horse.”
Some of the other mares at Gallagher’s are Drina, who produced Spain, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained 55-1 bomb who won the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, before Gallagher’s owned Drina, and Hostess, who was purchased by Mrs. Brody for $650,000 at the November Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale.
Trainer Jim Bond had Hostess ready to run against males in the Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga this summer, but pulled out when the turf course got soaked by rain. She went on to set a track record for the inner turf in winning the Grade III Glens Falls.
“We’ve got a couple interesting mares,” Mort said. “We’ve got the dam of Icabad Crane, and his third to Big Brown in the Preakness certainly was one of the highlights for us this year.”
Icabad Crane also was eighth in the Belmont and finished second to Finger Lakes-based Tin Cup Chalice in the Albany at Saratoga, as Tin Cup Chalice became the first horse to sweep the Big Apple Triple, and earn the $250,000 bonus that goes with it.
Gallagher’s Stud draws its name from Gallagher’s Steakhouse, the former Prohibition-era speakeasy in the theater district in Manhattan that was purchased by the
Brodys in 1964, and became a world-
renowned New York landmark for its ability to draw the biggest celebrities.
One of the signature works of Daily Racing Form cover artist Pierre “Peb” Bellocq is a mural of the Gallagher’s Steakhouse dining room studded with caricatures of 73 famous faces, like John F. Kennedy, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Marilyn Monroe, but also racing luminaries like Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Angel Cordero, Shug McGaughey and Joe Hirsch. Jerry and Marlene Brody are dancing together in the middle of the crowd.
Gallagher’s Stud opened in 1976, and has produced 85 percent runners and 72 percent winners from almost 340 foals. The farm has also maintained an Angus cattle operation on and off over the years until 1987, although it didn’t supply beef directly to the steakhouse.
“A lot of people think that,” Mort said with a chuckle. “But we sold breeding stock. The restaurant only uses certain cuts, so they procure that from various dealers.
“She and Mr. Brody have been wonderful. He died in 2001. She’s 77 and very involved, not necessarily in the day-to-day, but she particularly likes the mating part.”
The most accomplished horse off the farm is Allez Milord, a Group 1 winner who was the German champion 3-year-old in 1986.
The most accomplished human runner, by far, has been Emory Mort, a steeplechaser at Cornell University who is more comfortable at the 5k distance, but held up beautifully throughout the
He’s an assistant cross country coach at Cornell, and sometimes finds himself falling into thoroughbred trainer mode when he challenges his runners.
“There are a lot of ‘horse factories’ out there with tons of money that just buy horses and train them until they break or win a championship,” he said in an e-mail. “Then, there are the good trainers who try to get the most out of every horse in a smarter way, with a more long-term approach. I try to be the good trainer.
“I tell them that running is a lifestyle. A horse gets up, trains, eats its oats, takes a nap, eats some more oats, maybe trains a little more, and goes to sleep. The runners that can focus on running like a horse does are going to be good runners. I work with Ivy League guys, so they can overthink things. I tell them to think like a horse.”
“He tells them they have to eat their oats, and I think they look at him like he’s nuts,” Mallory Mort said.
‘pride’ reaches 19
Peppers Pride extended her North American thoroughbred
record for consecutive wins last Sunday with her 19th, in the $125,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap at Sunland Park.
Racing as the 4-5 favorite, Peppers Pride won by over five lengths in the six-furlong stakes for New Mexico-bred fillies and mares. Under jockey Carlos Madeira, who has ridden all 19 of her wins, Peppers Pride finished in 1:09.54 and earned $75,000 to push her earnings to $1,066,085.
Owner Joe Allen of Abilene,
Texas, is leaning toward retiring her, but was still considering running the 5-year-old again next year. It’s “going to be hard to decide after such a terrific race. She is the best horse I have ever touched,” he told The Associated Press.
assmussen reaches 600
With Storm Trust’s win in the fifth race at Delta Downs Thursday night, Steve Asmussen became the first North American trainer to win 600 races in a year. He entered the day with 596 wins, and won three races Thursday afternoon at Fair Grounds.
According to Equibase, through Thursday, Asmussen had 600 winners from 2,909 starters
(21 percent), with stable earnings of
$23.9 million. Earlier this year, he broke his previous record of 555 wins in a season.
The Grade I CashCall Futurity has drawn a wide-open field of 12 2-year-olds to Hollywood Park
today, including the Todd Pletcher-trained Bittel Road, who won the With Anticipation at Saratoga and the Grade III Woodford Reserve at Keeneland on Oct. 5.
Bittel Road is the 9-2 second choice on the morning line behind 7-2 Pioneerof the Nile, who was fifth by 23⁄4 lengths to Midshipman in the BC Juvenile.
At 12-1 is the front-running Mr. Rod, who beat Bittel Road in the Grade III Generous at Hollywood Park last time out.
On Sunday, Vacare should be a big favorite in the Grade II Dahlia on the turf at Hollywood Park.
She just missed to Wait a While in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon in September, and was two lengths back when fifth to Forever
Together in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in October.
play fellow dead
Play Fellow, the 1983 Travers Stakes winner, was euthanized on Wednesday at Nuckols Farm near Midway, Ky., because of the infirmities of old age.
His other stakes wins in 1983 included the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Arlington Classic and American Derby at Arlington Park.
Although he had more Grade I wins than any other 3-year-old that year, he lost the division championship to Slew o’ Gold, who beat older horses in the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup after losing the Travers.
Calder has canceled the Stage Door Betty and Frances A. Genter, two $100,000 Grade III stakes to have been run next Saturday, and the Grade III $100,000 Tropical Park Derby on Jan. 2 to help balance the purse account.