Weekend Interview: Cary Frommer

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Cary Frommer described last Wednesday as the “most wonderful day I’ve had in my pinhooking career” and it could easily be said that it was one of the best pinhooking days for anyone, anywhere.

Frommer sold the second most expensive horse at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of selected 2-year-olds in training when Stonestreet Stables and M.V. Magnier teamed to buy a colt by Uncle Mo for $1 million. Frommer bought the colt out of the Two Punch mare  Five Star Dream for $90,000 five months earlier, at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale in Timonium, Md., and she and a partner made that look like a bargain when the hammer fell at Gulfstream Park.

Frommer was getting ready for the next major juvenile market on the East Coast, and making the drive from Ocala to her home base in Aiken, when This Is Horse Racing’s Tom Law caught up with her Friday afternoon.

This Is Horse Racing: Congratulations on the sale. What was the whole experience like for you?
Cary Frommer: The day itself we pretty much knew we were in very good shape. Maybe not that good, but we knew we had the real thing. People saw him for what he was, appreciated him, so we knew we were in good shape. In the ring once it hit that magic number I just started crying. It just happened. It was beyond a dream come true. I hadn’t even dreamed about $1 million.

TIHR: Had you ever cried before selling a horse?
CF: No, I really have not. It was that number that actually did it.

TIHR: How’d you celebrate?
CF: Some friends of mine went out to dinner at a restaurant right there by Gulfstream. Honestly I was so tired from the emotion of it all that I celebrated early, went out and went to bed. That was that.

TIHR: And now you’re driving.
CF: I was in Ocala, I have the next sale there and I already shipped horses in. I’ve got eight there, I watched them train today and am driving to Aiken now, where I’ve got a lot there that I’ll watch train tomorrow and then I’ll head back to Ocala.

TIHR: How much longer is your drive?
CF: Three hours, want to keep talking?

TIHR: Absolutely. So eight at OBS March, how many more after that for other sales this year?
CF: I think I’ll have about 20 in April and 20 to 25 in Timonium.

TIHR: Where did the day rank in your career as a pinhooker?
CF: I sold Trappe Shot for $850,000 and that was nice, but sometimes it’s not about the money. Sometimes it truly is about a horse that you really like getting into the right hands. I’ve taken a beating on a few horses but they’ve ended up in the hands of people that developed them. Mainly my sales from the beginning have, I don’t go for the real fast times, I don’t do that extra kind of hard stuff you have to do to get those fast times. I want eventually for people to buy off me off my record. If I sell a horse for a lot of money and he goes into the wrong hands I’m not happy, so some of my happy points have been when the right people go with the right horse. That means a lot to me.

TIHR: Fair to say the Uncle Mo colt wound up in pretty good hands.
CF: Yes, we did it there. That makes me very happy. John Moynihan was very nice; he came by, looked at him every day and asked me honestly what I thought of him. I really felt like he cared about what I said. It wasn’t just going through the motions. I wasn’t going through the motions, I was saying what I really believed and I think he’s going to be a fabulous racehorse.

TIHR: What is going to make him a successful racehorse?
CF: His mind. He will do whatever you ask of him and he’ll do it to the best of his ability. That’s all he knows how to do. He wants to do right. He’s a sound, sound horse. Mentally he is a very strong horse. He trains good, you can stand him on the track for an hour if you want and he wouldn’t move a muscle. He goes home, eats the bottom out of his tub, he lays down, he snores, he is all about taking care of himself. He’s got a terrific mind.

TIHR: Do you remember the first time you saw him?
CF: Yes. It’s funny; I quizzed myself about it the other day. When I first saw him at the Timonium sale I wrote him down as a horse to take a second look at. I didn’t write anything like, ‘love him,’ or anything like that. Just, ‘take a second look.’ And the second time I looked at him it was a whole different picture. I don’t know what changed, but when I saw him I thought, ‘oh my God, why don’t I have stars on my page here?’ There was something in him, or me, that changed between the first and second look where I went from, ‘yeah I’ll look at him again,’ to ‘wow, that is an athlete.’ He wasn’t a perfect horse, none of them are, but his weaknesses I could live with and his strengths were overpowering. He had a huge, big hip and a smooth walk. A lovely walk. From then on I decided I was going to buy him no matter what I was going to do.

TIHR: And you did, for $90,000.
CF: I got into a bit of a bidding war for him. I happened to be standing next to the guy. I just looked at him and said, ‘you’re just going to have to take the next one because I’m buying this one.’

TIHR: When you bought him was he for yourself or did you have partners?
CF: I bought him for myself. I buy my horses first and then I decide about partners. Because it was the end of the year and, as always, I was a little over budget and I offered him to two people and they weren’t interested. Then I offered him to my main partner Barry Berkelhammer and while he was thinking about it I offered him to a few other people. Barry called back and it worked out. He wanted him. Barry and I have always had a very good working relationship.

TIHR: What about getting him started?
CF: The whole process was the same. He broke very easily. He had a lovely way of moving. Anybody could ride him. I do have good riders but anybody could have ridden him. About the first time I started letting him finish his gallops up he started to separate himself from the others. When his stride started to open up you could see there was a lot going on there. It was definitely smooth and long and it got better the faster he went. I sent him down to Barry because we have a pool down there and then we alternate swimming with training once they get close to the sale. I told Barry, ‘get tied on, you’re not going to believe this horse.’ He had him about a week, liked him a lot and then he did a little breeze with him, and called me like, ‘oh my God.’ He got the picture.

TIHR: The Uncle Mo colt wasn’t your only sale down there, you also had a Tale Of Ekati colt that brought $150,000. Was that a good sale?
CF: It was a good sale. He didn’t work that well at the sale. It wasn’t his fault, there had been a loose horse and a lot of things going on. He worked in 10 and 4, I was going to scratch him but people kept coming to see him and realize he didn’t get his breeze in until late in it. So I thought, ‘well, let’s keep him in it and see what happens.’ So that was a pleasant surprise.

TIHR: So back and forth from Ocala to Aiken, how do you pass the time on the drive?
CF: Actually a lot of music that I listen to.

TIHR: Any favorites?
CF: I’ve got a very eclectic taste in music, all across the board, just my private little music collection.