Our first TDN headline!

“When Brazilian billionaire Gilberto Sayao Da Silva purchased Nat Rea’s Regis Farm (formerly part of Rick Trontz’s Hopewell Farm) on Pisgah Pike in Woodford County in 2015, his wife christened the 300-plus acre property Bonne Chance Farm. The name, which means “good luck” in French, has been prophetic.

That same year, Gilberto Sayao also bought Canadian champion Sealy Hill (Point Given) for $750,000 from the Regis dispersal. The Medaglia d’Oro filly she was carrying, the first Bonne Chance-bred yearling sold at auction, made $1.25 million at Keeneland September in 2017, positioning the farm as a boutique commercial breeder for the moment. However, plans to race a stable of homebreds in the future are already underway.

“We are looking to strike the right balance,” said Brazilian Alberto Figueiredo, the general manager of Bonne Chance. “This year, we retained an Empire Maker colt who didn’t make what we thought he should, and from last year we have three fillies, now age two, including the Scat Daddy filly Iva, who is trained by Wesley Ward.”

The first Bonne Chance homebred to race, Iva is a winner of two of three starts and was second in the House Party S. at Gulfstream last Saturday under the yellow and blue silks designed by Gilberto Sayao’s wife.

It’s no coincidence that Gilberto Sayao bought Rea’s Regis Farm. In the two years that the Canadian Rea had been heavily invested in the Thoroughbred industry, he’d developed a relationship with Brazilian Goncalo Borges Torrealba, who with his family had established controlling interest in Three Chimneys in 2013. When Three Chimneys handled the Regis dispersal, Goncalo Torrealba, also the owner of Stud TNT in Brazil, advised Gilberto Sayao that Rea’s Kentucky farm was for sale. The sale was completed smoothly with most of the Regis staff, including farm manager John Durr, staying on to work for the new owner.

Along with the Borges Torrealbas and the Chileans Oussama Aboughazale and the mother-son duo of Liliana Solari Falabella and Carlos Heller Solari, Gilberto Sayao is the latest South American to establish a significant foothold in the Bluegrass and make an impression. Three Chimneys was co-owner of Horse of the Year Gun Runner and stands the son of Candy Ride (Arg). Aboughazale shuttles two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome to his Haras Sumaya in Chile and bought what was formerly R. D. Hubbard’s Crystal Springs Farm in Bourbon County a few years ago and renamed it Haras Sumaya US. And the Solaris, who raced Eclipse Award winner Unique Bella, purchased Vinery in 2013 and renamed it Don Alberto Farm after their Haras Don Alberto in Chile.

Like Stud TNT, Haras Sumaya, and Haras Don Alberto, Gilberto Sayao also races in South America, as Stud Rio Dois Irmaos (aka Stud RDI). It’s a successful racing and breeding operation in Brazil and Argentina with tentacles in France, though it’s a relatively young venture that was established in 2008 with partner Paulo Fernando Carvalho De Oliveira–also a partner in Gilberto Sayao’s business, Vinci Partners.

Stud RDI has been managed from the start by Alberto Figueiredo, who’s been in and out of Lexington the last few years overseeing Bonne Chance’s development, and before that, was a yearling buyer at Keeneland for Stud RDI. I met him at three sales this year. He’s usually accompanied by P.C. Peixoto de Castro, owner of the storied Brazilian stud farm Fazenda Mondesir, and on his most recent trip last month, Figueiredo said it was likely that he’d eventually relocate to Kentucky as the farm takes on greater significance for Gilberto Sayao.

Why Kentucky? “I think that’s because of the challenge to compete against the best in the world,” Figueiredo said. “You also have access to the best. It’s to be in the right place, you know, here, where the Thoroughbred happens.”

Figueiredo said that Gilberto Sayao’s Stud RDI partner Paulo Fernando is not involved in the ownership of Bonne Chance, but that the partners continue to breed and race together in South America and elsewhere. At the moment, they are represented by the promising homebred filly Hacksaw Ridge (Brz) (Dubai Dust), an Argentine Group 1 winner from two starts. The recent GIII Berkeley H. winner at Golden Gate, Editore (Brz) (Redattore {Brz}), a Group 1 winner in Brazil, was bred by Stud Rio Dois Irmaos and races for Bonne Chance and Stud RDI under trainer Paulo Lobo’s direction. Lobo also trained Pretty Girl (Arg) (Harlan’s Holiday) for Bonne Chance and Stud RDI. A Group 1 winner in Argentina, she’d come to Lobo by way of France, where she’d won a Listed race for the partners. Lobo trained Pretty Girl to second-place finishes in both the GII Santa Ana S. at Santa Anita and the GII Yellow Ribbon H. at Del Mar in 2017. She was bred to Union Rags this spring.

The Richard Mandella-trained homebred Baruta (Brz) (Crimson Tide {Ire}) was Stud Rio Dois Irmaos’s first graded stakes winner in the US when she won the GIII Senator Ken Maddy S. at Santa Anita in 2015. She’s now at Bonne Chance, and her first foal, a colt by Speightstown, was sold for $175,000 at Keeneland September this year. She has a Ghostzapper weanling and was bred to Quality Road for 2019.

Strong Sales

The farm is patronizing some high-class commercial sires, but it’s also successfully dealt with some less expensive horses–in one case, a sire well off the beaten path–which means that it knows how to select breeding stock, raise a good horse, and is lucky. The head scratcher was a 2-year-old filly by Exhi (Maria’s Mon) that Bonne Chance sold through Hidden Brook–Hidden Brook’s Sergio de Sousa is Figueiredo’s cousin–at the OBS Spring sale in April for $195,000. The filly had worked well and was a half-sister to GI Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Wavell Avenue (Harlington), but her sire is obscure and stood for only $3,000 in Alberta this year. Bonne Chance knew well enough to maximize her sales potential as a 2-year-old in training instead of as a yearling.

At Keeneland September this year, Bonne Chance had another profitable year with its second crop of 12 yearlings, six of them catalogued in Book 1. The farm sold two Uncle Mos for $625,000 and $410,000, a Medaglia d’Oro sister to the $1.25 million sale filly from last year for $425,000, a Giant’s Causeway for $450,000, and a Street Sense for $225,000, in addition to the $175,000 Speightstown from the Brazilian mare noted earlier.

Those are formulaic commercial horses, but Bonne Chance also sold a Stormy Atlantic–an aged stallion who stood for an advertised price of $25,000 in 2016 when the mare was bred but could have been had for less–for $190,000.

And then last month at Keeneland, the farm also sold two weanlings, a Quality Road for $180,000 and a Frosted for $170,000. It was a strikingly strong and uniform second sales season for a nursery that had produced only seven foals in 2016, 12 in 2017, and 15 this year. Bonne Chance is expecting a crop of 19 next year, and they’ll include foals by such sires as Quality Road, Speightstown, Union Rags, Distorted Humor, More Than Ready, Pioneerof the Nile, and Arrogate, as well as by such as English Channel, Twirling Candy, Connect, Creative Cause, and Tapizar, among others.

“Every mare has a sire [that suits her best],” Figueiredo said. “We look at each mare individually and choose the best stallion for her on pedigree and physical match. Yes, we are looking at the commercial side, but we are also looking to breed stakes winners and we are looking for horses for the stable, too. We have foals this year by horses like Macho Uno and Mizzen Mast, for example. Perhaps a horse like Mizzen Mast doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he has shown he can get a very good horse.”

The broodmare band numbers about 25-odd mares heading into 2019 and is comprised of well-bred Kentucky stock that Figueiredo had purchased as yearlings for Stud RDI to race in its early years, proven group or graded fillies that raced in South America, new purchases for the farm since 2015, and some European imports from France, including three mares by Galileo.

Clearly, this isn’t Figueiredo’s first rodeo. Before his involvement with Gilberto Sayao, he was the racing manager for the legendary Brazilian owner-breeder Linneo Eduardo de Paula Machado’s Haras Sao Jose e Expedictus, which was founded in 1906 in Rio Claro in the state of Sao Paulo and is deeply engraved in Brazilian racing lore. It made an impression in the U.S. in the 1990s as Rio Claro Thoroughbreds, racing such as Group 1 winners Siphon (Brz) (Itajara {Brz}) and Virginie (Brz) (Legal Case {Ire}) and Group 2 winner Romarin (Brz) (Itajara {Brz}) with Richard Mandella.

Figueiredo’s frequent travel companion in Kentucky, P.C. Peixoto de Castro, is the owner of another famed Brazilian stud farm, Fazenda Mondesir, which was established in 1934 by his great-grandfather Antonio Joaquim Peixoto de Castro, Jr. in Sao Paulo but is now located in Bage, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Fazenda Mondesir is perhaps best known here as the breeder of Group 1 winner Einstein (Brz) (Spend a Buck), who is from a mare by the Lyphard horse Ghadeer (Fr) out of a mare by Waldmeister (GB) (Wild Risk {Fr}). Both stallions stood at Fazenda Mondesir and Ghadeer was one of the most influential sires ever in Brazil, where he was a perennial leading sire and broodmare sire. The Ghadeer/Waldmeister combination, incidentally, was the catalyst that turned around the poor stud career of Spend a Buck.

Fazenda Mondesir’s international influence with Ghadeer/Waldmeister was on display just last weekend in Japan with the Deep Impact 2-year-old filly Danon Fantasy (Jpn), who won the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. Danon Fantasy’s Group l-winning dam Life For Sale (Arg) (Not For Sale {Arg}) was bred by P.C. Peixoto de Castro, and her the third dam, My Little Life (Brz), is a Fazenda Mondesir-bred daughter of Ghadeer. Danon Fantasy’s fifth dam is by Waldmeister and this is an old and deep Fazenda Mondesir foundation family.

P.C. Peixoto de Castro is a longtime friend of Gilberto Sayao, boards Stud RDI’s broodmares at Fazenda Mondesir, and acts as his advisor. He got to know Alberto Figueiredo during the latter’s time with Sao Jose e Expedictus, and together they are a formidable resource for the Bonne Chance owner, who is well on the way to making a name for his farm in the U.S.”

Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm |

Updated: December 13, 2018 at 7:00 pm

By Sid Fernando

Sid Fernando is president and CEO of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks.