Breeders’ Cup: Improbable ride for Worldly’s owner

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Chad Schumer stood near the Santa Anita Park paddock Thursday morning with a colleague, watched horses school in advance of this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships and tried to make clarity from the unimaginable.

The longtime bloodstock agent and familiar face at sales around the world was there to see Breeders’ Cup Marathon entrant Worldly and he wasn’t there checking the 6-year-old son of A.P. Indy as a stallion or racing prospect or as a representative of the horse’s owner. He was there as Worldly’s owner, a place he finds himself in after myriad circumstances.

“We just watched him school and I’m standing there next to Nancy Sexton [who serves as the European representative for Schumer Bloodstock], she’s here from England, and we said, ‘how many times have we stood here, wanting to take a picture or to see this horse or that horse, but this time it’s our horse,’ ” Schumer said. “It’s such an incredible experience.”

Schumer, who specializes in international markets and frequently purchasing horses that are exported around the world, has dabbled in ownership in the past. Horses carrying his navy and white colors have made a total of 53 starts, with three victories.

None on a stage like the Breeders’ Cup.

And Schumer is quick to admit he wouldn’t even be where he is now if not for what he thought was a completed transaction falling through.

“It’s the classic bloodstock agent story,” Schumer said.

Schumer politely didn’t get too specific other than to say he purchased Worldly, the 6-1 co-third choice for the $500,000 Marathon, for a client he buys “lots of horses for, never with any problems.” Long story short, Schumer vetted Worldly out, didn’t see any problems, paid an undisclosed price to Worldly’s breeder, Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable, went to Europe for a sale and returned to his home base in Louisville to some unexpected news.

“I come back from my trip, it turns out the deal is not OK and it’s my horse,” Schumer said. “At the time I was not too happy about it. As you can imagine it was a lot of money for me.”

Thankfully for Schumer the story features a bit of a happy ending, even if he’s yet to win in three starts for the agent-turned-owner.

“A lot of times when we buy horses we keep them in light training and we had him in light training while he was in quarantine,” Schumer said. “He was sound, looked good and trained well. He looked so good that I said, ‘let’s put him back in training.’ … The rest is history.”

Sean Nix, Schumer’s director of operations, recommended Brendan Walsh as a trainer. Worldly made three starts for Walsh and Schumer in advance of the 1 3/4-mile Marathon, finishing second to Golden Ticket in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker, second to Prayer for Relief in the Governor’s Cup at Remington Park and third behind Fort Larned and Windswept in the Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs.

“I have to say Brendan has done an absolutely fantastic job,” Schumer said. “I didn’t know him before, but my assistant did and [Walsh] was an assistant to Eddie Kenneally for a number of years. That says a lot. We met in Ocala at a 2-year-old sale in April and sometimes you meet a guy and you just get along with him. That’s how it was. He’s really an exceptional trainer and a bit of an unknown talent. I think in the coming years you’re going to hear a lot about him. He’s very astute. As an owner you couldn’t ask for better.”

Walsh, like Schumer, will make his Breeders’ Cup debut in the Grade 2 Marathon. He took out his license in late 2011, saddled his first winner few months later at Gulfstream, won 12 more races since and racked up more than $279,000 in purses so far this year.

Worldly, a half brother to Grade 2 winner and sire out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Citidancer mare Urbane, is entered in the Keeneland November breeding stock sale that starts Tuesday. He sells as a racing or breeding prospect, as Hip. 2423 from Book 4 to go through the ring Monday, Nov. 11.

Schumer entered Worldly in the sale back in August, after the race at Prairie Meadows and before the other two, and as “an insurance policy.” Whether he sells or not might depend on how he fares Friday against the likes of Ever Rider, the 7-2 morning-line favorite shipping in from Argentina, Greenwood Cup runner-up and 5-1 second choice Indian Jones and fellow 6-1 shots Commander from Western Canada and top local threat Blueskiesnrainbows.

As for Schumer, he’ll continue to soak up the experience. He normally tries to buy horses so others can get to the Breeders’ Cup and do just that. And then he’ll be back to work, right away.

“What we’re doing, it’s rather unconventional, we’re flying back at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, which kind of stinks to be honest,” Schumer said. “But we don’t have an option. We bought a lot of horses last year at the November sale, upwards of 70, for our clients, so there’s a lot of work to do.

“The Breeders’ Cup has that nice charter flight Saturday night for people trying to get back quickly, but I just can’t start the sale tired. So I’m foregoing the Saturday races, and focusing on being a good bloodstock agent.”