Freedman dips his toe in the market at Saratoga

Michael Freedman (right): trained in Singapore for eight years

Freedman dips his toe in the market at Saratoga
By Michele MacDonald 2:50PM 9 AUG 2016

THE world of racing is becoming much more connected as owners and trainers with adequate resources explore new horizons on what once were viewed as faraway, unreachable continents.

Australian trainer Michael Freedman proved that point during the opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearling Sale on Monday when he stepped up to buy a colt from the first crop of Kentucky Derby winner Orb for $150,000 in his initial visit to the venerable American marketplace.

"I saw him and really liked him," Freedman said of the colt, who is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Funny Moon, out of a half sister to champion Vanlandingham and from the family of Dewhurst winner Distant Music and Sprint Cup winner African Rose.

"I've got a bunch of guys back in Australia who, when they knew I was coming over, suggested I have a bit of a look around and said, if I saw something I liked, to get it.

"We haven't fully done him up yet [in a partnership], but we'll sit down and work it out and see how it goes," he said.

Freedman plans to leave the colt in the US to race and will make a decision on a trainer after consulting with China Horse Club's Michael Wallace, a friend who encouraged Freedman to travel to Saratoga.

Wallace helped set up the China Horse Club's American operation that consists of 30 juveniles this season and two winners to date at Saratoga raceourse.

One of the Orb colt's co-owners likely will be Freedman's longtime friend John O'Neill, a partner in 2003 Caulfield Cup winner Mummify, who was trained by the Freedman family while Michael was working with his brothers Lee, Richard and Anthony. Lee Freedman is a member of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

"[O'Neill's] been one of the guys that I might threaten to bring back here next year, and God help Saratoga If I do," said Michael Freedman with a hearty laugh.

"John's a very flamboyant sort of owner. I was at the races [at Saratoga for the Whitney Stakes on August 6], and looking at how people were dressed and the atmosphere, I think it would be right up his alley."

Freedman, who spent eight years as a leading trainer in Singapore before returning to Australian racing this year, is already thinking about a another trip to Saratoga in 2017.

"I've really enjoyed the hospitality and the whole Saratoga experience," he said while standing near the back ring where horses were being shown before entering the Humphrey S. Finney sale pavilion.

"I was actually just on the phone to one of [the potential partners in the Orb colt] and told him we had bought one, and I said we've got to come back here next year and make a week of it. For us in Australia, I think it's probably a little bit of a secret. But I'd certainly like to come back here," Freedman added.

Intriguingly, Freedman said he found more similarities between Australian and American yearlings than differences.

He said: "I actually think that the most interesting part for me is that I've seen a lot of horses [at the Saratoga sale] that I would see similar types to back at home. I've been really impressed with the quality of horses I've seen."

Remaining open to possibilities, Freedman said he would accept American clients who might be interested in Australian racing, as well as those Australians who might like to try American racing.

Freedman added: "Hopefully this is the start of something that will keep going."

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