Growing up just about 10 minutes from Prairie Meadows Racetrack in nearby Ankey, Iowa, Jason Loutsch developed an affinity for horse racing at a very young age.
“One of my best friends I grew up with, Ben Sampson, had a farm close by in Altoona with a big pasture and we used to go down there all the time and ride Quarter Horses,” Loutsch said. “We used to wake up at 5 a.m. and think we were cowboys; we didn’t know what the heck we were doing but we had a great time doing it. I loved horses growing up.”
Loutsch is now the general manager for Albaugh Family Stables, which makes its debut Kentucky Derby appearance Saturday with the Dale Romans-trained Brody’s Cause. With jockey Luis Saez in the saddle, the son of Giant’s Causeway will break from post 19 in the 20-horse Derby field and is 12-1 on the morning line.
Loutsch credited another friend of his for first getting he and his father-in-law, successful Iowa businessman Dennis Albaugh, involved in owning Thoroughbreds.
“About 10 years ago we had a friend buy a horse for $50,000,” Loutsch said. “It was an allowance horse and my friend was looking for someone to take a piece of it. He asked if we wanted a quarter of it and I said yes, because I grew up watching racing for most of my life and I thought it’d be fun. So we got in for 25 percent and had a little success with that first runner.”
Loutsch said it didn’t take long before his father-in-law was hooked.
“The thing was that we just had one and it only ran once every two or three weeks,” Loutsch said. “So my father-in-law said, ‘this is fun but we need to get some more horses and have some more action.’ So I told him, ‘I’ll take care of that.’ Our first stable name was Roll Reroll Stables.”
Not much later, the connections enjoyed some serious success with a filly they purchased at the 2005 OBS June 2-year-olds in training sale.
“To get to be an owner was a pretty cool feeling at Prairie Meadows and then we got involved further,” Loutsch said. “A horse in the first crop we bought at the OBS sale in 2005 turned out to be a filly named Miss Macy Sue. She was outstanding, took us to a lot of great places and just got our mouths wet with how exciting the sport can really be. We had a tremendous time with her.”
Miss Macy Sue won six stakes, including the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs, and also finished third in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. She retired in 2008 with earnings $880,915.
“At that point Dennis came up with the idea that we should go back with our own family and start buying two-turn colts that could meet the pedigree and the profile to get to Churchill and run in that first Saturday in May,” Loutsch said.
Miss Macy Sue went on to become a successful broodmare, producing 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Liam’s Map, a son of Unbridled’s Song that Loutsch and Albaugh decided to sell as a yearling in 2012.
“It was so exciting,” Loutsch said of Liam’s Map’s Breeders’ Cup win at Keeneland. “We were cheering so much for him as the breeder; we had never sold a horse before that sale. It was the first and probably only horse we’ll ever sell. As a business decision, we thought it was probably smart to sell him once we got to a certain threshold, so we set the reserve at $500,000 and said if it went above that, we’ll be happy. He sold for $800,000 and we couldn’t have been more happy to have a mare that produced a Breeders’ Cup Mile winner.”
“But, looking back now, it was probably one of the worst business decisions I’ve ever made,” Loutsch added with a slight chuckle.
While Albaugh Family Stables may have let one Grade 1-winning colt get away, Brody’s Cause captured the outfit’s first stakes at the highest level in October at Keeneland in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. After that, Loutsch and Albaugh immediately decided to keep the historic Lexington track on the radar for Brody’s Cause.
“After we won the Breeders’ Futurity back in October, we came up with a plan and said, ‘Dale, I don’t know if you want it to be his second or third start after the Breeders’ Cup, but we want to run him in the Blue Grass.'”
Brody’s Cause finished third behind Nyquist in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Romans decided on the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby for the colt’s 3-year-old debut, where he finished a disappointing seventh. The Tampa race would make little difference, as Brody’s Cause responded in his next outing in a big way.
Brody’s Cause won the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths, giving him 100 points toward a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, more than enough to write “Brody” into the field on the first Saturday in May.
“That was the target,” Loutsch recalled of the Blue Grass. “It was a special race we really wanted to win and – to actually do that – it was one of the most memorable days we’ll ever experience. Keeneland is so special and we’re happy to support Keeneland since they’ve been so good to us.”
When asked if their success in Kentucky would ever prompt Albaugh Family Stables to purchase a farm of their own in the Bluegrass State, Loutsch seemed content with their current operation.
“We haven’t considered it,” Loutsch answered. “Only because we come here to Kentucky and look at all of our horses – they’re at both Lane’s End and Taylor Made – and we realize that we couldn’t take any better care of these horses than they do. They do a really fine job.”
Brody’s Cause is named after the son of Dennis Albaugh’s nephew, Reed Weston, who serves as the stable’s assistant general manager.
“We have about 40 to 50 horses now so it gets a little overwhelming to name all of them,” Loutsch said. “We let family and friends name horses if we can.”
Loutsch added that Brody Weston will be on hand for the 142nd Kentucky Derby on Saturday to watch his namesake go for the roses.