Good Luck: Where Opportunity Meets Hard Work
Craig Bandoroff and his wife, Holly, operate Denali Stud near Paris, Ky., which raised Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) winner Tapwrit and sold him for $1.2 million at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August yearling sale on behalf of breeder My Meadowview Farm. In an interview with BloodHorse sales editor Ron Mitchell, Bandoroff discussed the significance of Tapwrit's victory and the upcoming yearling sales.
BloodHorse: What is the significance of Denali, whose graduates also include Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Animal Kingdom , being able to raise a horse that can bring that kind of money as a yearling but also goes on to win a classic?
Craig Bandoroff: The advertising agency came up with the tagline that I really love and it's "Saturday afternoon horses." When they look at Denali, whether it is the farm or the consignment, they think they have a chance to buy a horse from a farm that can sell them a horse that will take them to the highest level. We have had a lot of nice accomplishments over the last 25-plus years and what I am most proud of are the quality horses that come out of our and our clients' programs. Any classic winner and any grade 1 winner is incredible, and we are excited to have added the Belmont. We need the Preakness Stakes (G1), and we will get it.
BH: What was Tapwrit like as a foal?
CB: We always had expectations for him. I can't say I thought he was a million-dollar yearling. None of us can predict that. I tell my clients that when you get to June, (yearlings) just have to keep improving—keep moving up the ladder—and he did that. Come August he looked the part, and we were fortunate enough to put him in the right place. Those kinds are always good; they don't just become good. They are usually good from day one. This looks like an evenly matched group of 3-year-olds and hopefully he will go on to be champion.
BH: What are your projections for the upcoming yearling sales?
CB: We all have to be concerned about the continued polarization. That is problematic, but it's the world that we live in. I think it is clear there is going to be strong demand for horses buyers perceive to be good enough. Sometimes that doesn't reach the horses that we perceive as good enough. I don't think it is going to be as drastic as the 2-year-old market. When you get it right, you're going to get more than you thought, and when you don't get it right, you're going to be disappointed. I think the yearling market has more depth and breadth to it. But (yearlings) are still going to have to clear the bar, and we're going to get to a point where we have more product than consumer.
BH: What do you think of the changes Keeneland made to Book 1 of its September yearling sale and will Denali have horses in that session?
CB: I was in favor of that change. It plays into this polarization. If people want the best, I am hopeful that between Keeneland and the consignors we can pick out the best and put them in front of them. I expect Denali will be strongly represented in that book.
BH: What does your Saratoga consignment look like for this year? Any Tapwrits?
CB: I hope there's 10 of them (with a laugh). But really, we are taking his half brother, who is a nice colt by Speightstown . We have a strong group going up there. It's a couple more than we've had in the past few years, but it fits what we have always tried to do at Saratoga and that is hand-pick the ones we think will do well there.
BH: It obviously took an alliance of powerful owners to band together to afford Tapwrit, something we are seeing more of. Would consignors prefer those entities bid against each other?
CB: Again, it's the world we live in. These horses are expensive and people want to spread risk. Obviously the more bidders, the better. But I don't think anybody is going to complain when they pool resources and bid to that level. What hurts you is where they team up to buy one for $300,000 or $400,000. At one time, they had big pocketbooks and big egos and didn't want to team up. In an ideal world you would prefer it not happen and anybody who doesn't accept that it's happening is being a little unrealistic.
BH: Anything else you want to add?
CB: It's just wonderful to raise horses like this. To me, it is the land and the people and we are blessed to work with the kind of clients that we work for that give us that opportunity. R. D. Hubbard, one of my big mentors, said "good luck is when opportunity meets hard work." And you need both.