LNJ Foxwoods making a big splash in Europe
Radio Silence: Jim Bolger-trained debut winner looks a promising colt
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos) LNJ Foxwoods making a big splash in Europe
By Nancy Sexton 12:23PM 12 AUG 2016
ANYONE coming into the game with a desire to play at the top level wouldn't go far wrong in following the example of LNJ Foxwoods, the racing stable of Larry, Nanci and Jaime Roth which has grown from obscurity to become one of America's most prominent owners in just four years.
Such growth hasn't been achieved with a legion of runners. Instead, assisted by Californian-based agents Alex Solis II and Jason Litt, the Roths have built their name through the acquisition of a select group of fillies and mares alongside the occasional colt.
Make no mistake, money has been spent. But in return the Roths are in possession of one of the most upwardly mobile stables in the US, not to mention a burgeoning and successful string in Europe that comprises Sunday's Prix Minerve hopeful Golden Valentine, the highly regarded Radio Silence and Zoffany's sister Landikusic.
Take the past six weeks as an example. LNJ Foxwoods celebrated a victory on the opening day of Saratoga when two-year-old Bowie landed her debut in impressive style. A week later the action moved to the West Coast at Del Mar, where another promising juvenile, the War Front filly With Honors, won on her debut.
In Europe, Golden Valentine, the operation's first homebred, won the Prix de Thiberville at Saint-Cloud, while Radio Silence, owned in partnership with Jim Bolger, landed his debut at Leopardstown.
Their achievements slot in nicely with those of the past year, among them Nickname's victory in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes, which came on Larry Roth's 65th birthday, and the New York stakes wins of fellow Steve Asmussen-trainee Constellation.
Grade 3 winners Dreamologist, trained by Richard Mandella in California, and Super Majesty are other high-class fillies campaigned by LNJ Foxwoods and they contributed to a prize-money haul of approximately $1.02 million from 34 runs in 2015.
Today the operation has 71 horses, among them 19 broodmares and their youngstock.
"I was always into sport," says Jaime Roth, the daughter of Larry and Nanci and the driving force behind LNJ Foxwoods. "I'd watched racing on a smaller scale, just major races like the Kentucky Derby.
"But then I started following Rachel Alexandra. She was a filly who ran against the boys – I'd grown up playing sports against the boys – and I just fell in love with her."
Thanks to Rachel Alexandra, who famously defeated Mine That Bird in the 2009 Preakness Stakes, Roth had been bitten by the racing bug and she became more immersed by watching films of old races. On the suggestion of her father, a former principal in the eyeware company Marchon, she visited Del Mar – billed as ‘where the turf meets the surf' – on a trip to San Diego.
"Dad had a good friend who raced in California and he knew I was taking a trip to San Diego," says Roth. "So he said ‘why don't you go and meet up with my friend at the track?'
"I went with a friend and we actually ended up meeting Alex Solis II."
At that time, Solis, son of the top jockey Alex Solis, had joined forces with Jason Litt to establish the Solis/Litt bloodstock agency.
Both agents boasted a lengthy roll call of successful purchases, among them Grade 1 winners such as Mizdirection, Cry And Catch Me and Life At Ten, and within weeks of meeting they had signed for four yearlings on behalf of LNJ Foxwoods. Solis/Litt have been an important part of the team ever since.
"I went to Del Mar thinking we might see some horses, go racing . . ," says Roth. "I didn't go there thinking I would come back with plans for a stable.
"Alex asked me at the beginning, ‘if you could be in the game, how would you like to participate?' before adding ‘please don't say colts!'
"I said ‘I love the fillies'. So the angle we took was to focus on fillies with really strong bloodlines. We've obviously dabbled here and there with colts but the primary focus is fillies.
"It's a total team effort between my parents, who have been very supportive, myself, Jason and Alex. Jason and Alex take care of us like we're family."
Super Majesty, a Super Saver filly bought for $400,000 as a two-year-old, became their first Graded stakes winner when successful in the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs last September.
Less than a month later they were celebrating a first Grade 1 success when Nickname, purchased for $350,000 as a yearling, took the Frizette Stakes. The Scat Daddy filly has continued to acquit herself well in Graded stakes company this year and is currently enjoying a holiday at WinStar Farm in Kentucky.
WinStar are also in the process of freshening up the Grade 1-placed Constellation, another talented juvenile of last year.
Also flying the flag is private purchase Dreamologist, a Tapit filly out of champion Dreaming Of Anna who won the Las Cinegas Stakes at Santa Anita in April.
For all their achievements, however, Roth ranks Golden Valentine's success in France for Freddy Head as the highlight of LNJ Foxwoods' short history. The daughter of Dalakhani was bred by the Roths out of the Caerleon mare Gold Round, a stakes-producing half-sister to Goldikova bought for €520,000 from the Wertheimer brothers at Arqana in December 2012.
"Alex and Jason have always been creative and looked at other markets," says Roth. "Gold Round was in the Arqana catalogue and even though she was on the older side [15 at the time], it's a lovely family."
Gold Round was sold in foal to Dalakhani, to whom she had already produced the Group 3 winner Goldwaki. The resulting foal was Golden Valentine, named so because of her February 14 birthdate and now the winner of three of five starts including the Prix de Thiberville at Saint-Cloud last time out.
"The best moment for us so far was when Golden Valentine won the Prix de Thiberville," says Roth. "First of all, we hoped Gold Round would have a healthy filly – most of her foals had been colts before then. Then she has a nice filly and of course you don't know if she will be talented.
"Her next foal, a Redoute's Choice filly named Golden Attitude, is also with Freddy Head."
Gold Round now resides at Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky, where she has a Kitten's Joy filly foal and is back in foal to the Ramsey Farm stallion.
Darby Dan also caters for the rest of the LNJ broodmare band, among them Life Happened, bought for $750,000 in 2014 when her daughter Tepin was ‘just' a Grade 3 winner. Tepin has since developed into America's dominant turf miler, a status that was recently cemented by her successful raid on Royal Ascot.
Life Happened also has a two-year-old colt by Harlan's Holiday who is on the verge of joining Richard Mandella.
LNJ also own Diamond Necklace, a stakes-placed Unbridled's Song half-sister to Shamardal purchased in Australia, and Miss Super Quick, a Distorted Humor mare out of a half-sister to prominent young Kentucky sire Super Saver.
Roth says: "I think Alex feels that if everything went to plan, LNJ could be a small version of the Wertheimers. He holds enormous respect for their operation and loves the depth and class of their broodmare band."
LNJ Foxwoods' policy of targeting elite fillies has already paid off with the swift development of their own elite broodmare band. Plans call for the yearling colts to be sold and fillies retained, although numbers may call for the odd filly to be culled.
However, in the Jim Bolger-trained Radio Silence, by War Front out of Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint heroine Maryfield, they do have a colt to look forward to. Bought by Solis/Litt for $675,000 at this year's OBS March Two-Year-Old Sale, Radio Silence made quite the impression when justifying favouritism on his debut before getting bogged down in the yielding ground when fourth in the Angelsey Stakes.
"Yes, we enjoy racing fillies but there's always an itch for a colt and we've always said that if the right one came along, we'd take a shot," says Roth. "Alex saw this colt and was excited. He's a very nice colt and the ground probably went against him the last day."
She adds: "We wanted to race in Europe but I admit that when we first did it, it was a little bit intimidating – like anything can be when you don't know as much about it.
"But now I liken racing in Europe to a breath of fresh air. The tracks are so beautiful. There's something very classy about racing in Europe."
LNJ Foxwoods has had plenty cause for celebration in its short history but they don't take anything for granted. The good moments are savoured and plans are laid for the future.
A trip to Deauville for this weekend's Arqana August Sale is on the immediate agenda and they could possibly return to Europe in the autumn for the Goffs Orby and Tattersalls October Sales.
"It's been fun," says Roth. "I love to see people love my horses because that's how I got involved. So I'm very proud.
"When you buy something, you have a vision what it could be. But then anything can go wrong. Those low moments are tough but then to see them run and win is amazing."