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THOROUGHBRED RACING / BILL CHRISTINE : Team Valor Heads Seek More Control

October 20, 1995|BILL CHRISTINE

When the vote of the syndicate's members was taken late in 1993, the decision was clear-cut: Take the offer that's on the table and sell Star Of Cozzene for $3 million.

Star Of Cozzene had been bought by the Team Valor Stable for $125,000, he had been syndicated for $235,000 and had earned $2 million, winning the Arlington Million and other important stakes. Now there was the offer for another $3 million.

"Still, there were people in that partnership who weren't feeling that good about selling the horse," said Barry Irwin, the president of Team Valor.

Jeff Siegel, Irwin's partner in Team Valor investments, remembered, "We had to twist a few arms before they agreed to sell. Some of the owners of Star Of Cozzene already had all the money they needed. What they wanted was more fun. They wanted to keep running the horse."

That sort of thing is why Irwin and Siegel are dissolving Team Valor as it is now structured. Moving from multiple horse syndicates to a limited partnership, they are reorganizing the operation and hope to sell 200 shares at $25,000 by the end of next month, which would give them a working base of $5 million.

Irwin and Siegel will call the shots, which isn't a bad idea. In the eight years they have operated Team Valor and its predecessor, Clover Racing, their partnership groups have won 31 stakes. Three of them were million-dollar races--Star Of Cozzene's Arlington Million, Prized's Molson Million and Martial Law's Santa Anita Handicap--and Prized also won a $2-million race, the Breeders' Cup Turf, in 1989 at Gulfstream Park. In 1993, its best year, Team Valor earned $3.3 million, about half of it by Star Of Cozzene.

"We want to control our own destiny," Irwin said. "You can't make much money racing horses, but there's a ton of money to be made by buying and selling. To do this, you have to sell when the time is right, and the way it's been, we've been at the mercy of our clients, many of whom haven't been sophisticated racing people.

"For many of the people who buy into syndicates, all they talk about is winning the Kentucky Derby. We couldn't begin to promise them that, because it's not realistic. We couldn't even promise them that they'd have a horse that would be running in the Derby."

Team Valor has about 300 clients, many of whom Irwin and Siegel hope will be joining the limited partnership.

Included in the unfinished business is the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 28. Team Valor is running Mighty Forum, the 65-1 winner of the Kelso Handicap at Belmont on Oct. 7, in the $1-million Mile, and there's an outside chance that Demaloot Demashoot will draw into the $1-million Sprint off the also-eligible list.

"Mighty Forum loves soft turf," Siegel said. "We're hoping Belmont's course comes up that way again. If it does, he should have a big chance."

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Laffit Pincay, who shares the record with Chris McCarron for most rides in Breeders' Cup races, will be riding at Santa Anita on Oct. 28, the day the seven Breeders' races are being run at Belmont.

Pincay might have ridden in the Breeders' Cup for the 12th consecutive year, but when trainer Wayne Lukas took him off Tipically Irish for the Juvenile Fillies Stakes, he decided to stay home. Pincay, who rode Tipically Irish to victory in the Oak Leaf at Santa Anita on Oct. 7, would not have had any other sure mounts in the Breeders' Cup.

This will be Pincay's first absence from the Breeders' Cup, but the 48-year-old jockey is riding as well as ever. He is fewer than 500 victories from Bill Shoemaker's record of 8,833 and is in the thick of the race, with Kent Desormeaux and Corey Nakatani, for the Oak Tree riding title. Pincay hasn't won a meet title since he was first at Hollywood Park in 1991.

In the Breeders' Cup, Pincay has ridden 60 times, the same as McCarron, and has won seven races, the same as Eddie Delahoussaye, which ranks them second, one behind Pat Day. Pincay has ridden in at least four Breeders' Cup races every year, and he rode the entire Breeders' Cup card--seven races--from 1987 through 1989.

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With million-dollar races decreasing elsewhere, Santa Anita has added one for 1996, becoming the only track in the country, other than the host for the Breeders' Cup, to run more than one the same year.

The Santa Anita Derby, worth $700,000 this year, will become a $1-million race when it's run on April 6. The Santa Anita Handicap has been a $1-million race since 1986.

The only track in North America that runs two $1-million races is Woodbine in suburban Toronto.

Horse Racing Notes

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