Secretariat

An Early Party Favor for the Derby Trail

With racing winding down for the year it’s a good time once again to start looking for potential Kentucky Derby horses with a good story behind them. We started off with Nysos last week, but he was already a stakes winner, so let’s find one not as well known~ Steve Haskin

An Early Party Favor for the Derby Trail 

By Steve Haskin

 

This not only is about a horse who caught our eye named Parchment Party, but about his dam, her sale, and the timing that linked the two. It is at that sale where the story begins.

On Nov. 9, Carrie Brogden of Machmer Hall stood with her mom in the back ring at this year’s Keeneland November sale waiting for a 16-year-old mare bred by WinStar Farm named Life Well Lived to sell. This was one Carrie wanted, but not sure the mare would be in her price range. The daughter of Tiznow had produced one top horse, American Patriot, winner of the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in 2017. Later that year, Life Well Lived, at the height of her popularity, was purchased at the Keeneland November sale by Bobby Flay for $1,250,000. But she had produced nothing of note since then and when she was put in the same sale in 2019 in foal to Curlin, with Stone Farm acting as agent, she failed to meet her reserve and was bought back for $775,000.

They tried to sell her again in 2022, but she was withdrawn from the sale. With her value as a broodmare diminishing every year it was time for Carrie to step in. Machmer Hall, owned by Carrie and her husband Craig, has had good success over the years purchasing what Carrie calls “super mares,” which are older stakes producers that have great sales appeal and excellent race records from their progeny. Carrie also was a big fan of Stone Farm, owned by Arthur Hancock, and in fact bought the property adjacent to Stone Farm, naming it Machmer Hall after her maternal grandmother Betty Machmer.

The morning of the sale Carrie went to the updates section on the Keeneland website to check any updates on the four mares in whom they were interested. That is when she learned that Life Well Lived had a son named Parchment Party who had won his career debut seven weeks earlier going 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs before the catalog had been printed. With her target price of $250,000 she had mixed reactions. She was glad to see the mare had produced a winner, but she texted her mom, who is also involved in the operation, and her husband informing them Life Well Lived had a “live” 2-year-old and was going to cost more than they originally thought. She then found an article in Thoroughbred Daily News naming Parchment Party as a horse to watch.

Later that morning she went to see Life Well Lived for the first time. The night before she had contacted Lynn Hancock, who runs Stone Farm for her father and mother just to make sure there were no issues with her.

About 50 hip numbers before the mare was selling, Carrie went on Equibase and was given another surprise when she saw that Parchment Party was entered that afternoon in an allowance race at Churchill Downs, not realizing he had been entered in the Street Sense Stakes by trainer Bill Mott 11 days earlier, but was scratched when the track came up sloppy. So she wasn’t aware how highly he was thought of by the normally conservative Mott.

Carrie stood in the back with her mom, Dr. Sandra Fubini, who is a small animal veterinarian and actually owns the Machmer Hall property and is the former owner of Pair O Docs Farm in Warrenton, Virginia with Carrie’s dad.

Life Well Lived walked in the ring and the bidding quickly began to escalate, going up to $275,000, and Carrie realized that they would have to blow their entire budget in order to get her. Finally, at $330,000 it began to slow down as it neared the reserve. It was now Carrie and one other bidder, who upped it to $340,000. Carrie looked at her mom and she said to bid again, so Carrie went to $345,000. It stayed there for what seemed an eternity to Carrie, but then the other bidder, who it was later learned was Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm, who bred the mare, knocked it up to $350,000.

Carrie recalled, “I turned to my Mom and said to her, ‘What do you want to do?’ She looked at me and said, ‘I am 76 years old, I cannot take it with me.  I want this mare.’”

Carrie continued, “By her saying she was 76 it went straight to my heart, as you see my most beloved grandmother, my Mom’s mom and the entire namesake to our farm, Betty Machmer, died in her sleep in perfect health at age 76 on August 28th in 1993.  The impact of my mom’s simple statement was not lost on me, and the loss of my grandmother and her memories rolled onto my cheeks from my eyes. So, I looked at the bid spotter and bid $360,000, knowing full well now that this mare was coming to Machmer Hall, and Elliott backed down. My mom’s heart was happy and my heart was happy for her and my grandma.”

As Carrie was signing the ticket, Lynn Hancock came by to thank her for the purchase and said, “Don’t forget to watch Parchment Party today at Churchill Downs.” Carrie assured her, “I won’t forget!”

She had just bought a 16-year-old mare for $890,000 less than her previous sales price six years ago. This was like buying a used Rolls-Royce with 250,000 miles on it. If it runs good and has several productive years left it’s a great bargain. If it turns out to be a lemon then you just move on. Carrie figured it would take a few years to find out. Little did she realize when she first put Life Well Lived on her “to buy” list she might be finding out a couple of hours after the sale. It’s still too early to tell, but following Parchment Party’s allowance victory that afternoon Carrie could very well be the owner of the dam of a potential hot Kentucky Derby prospect.

But who exactly is Parchment Party that he would get bet down to 35-1, seventh favorite of the 38 Kentucky Derby Future Wager horses despite not winning any of his two races by more than 1 ½ lengths?

Well, all you have to do is watch both his races, especially his career debut in which he somehow got through one of those hold-your-breath openings on the rail that most horses and jockeys would not even attempt to get through. What makes his daredevil move under jockey James Graham even more impressive is that we’re not talking about a small, agile horse who was able to slip through. This is a large scopey horse who is still a big baby having been born extremely late on June 5, so he is well behind the others in maturity. But he never flinched and went though there like a seasoned pro before drawing clear.

Many times while watching a race an opening on the rail can appear smaller than it really is, and for an instant this looked like a disaster in the making. But looking at the head-on shot it could have been, as it looked even more perilous from this angle, with Graham and the colt right up against the rail and no escape route.

When Matt Weinmann, racing manager for owner Pin Oak Stud, asked Bill Mott the following morning how he came out of the race, he said, “Great, maybe a little white paint still on his left side.”

In the race, Parchment Party had to come from dead last, a good dozen lengths back, after getting squeezed a bit after the start. He looked to be hopelessly out of it, but unleashed a strong inside run around the turn. But with no space to his outside, Graham had to keep him on the rail and ran smack into a logjam of horses. It was either go for whatever tiny opening there was or check out of there. You don’t want to do either with a first-time starter, but Graham went for it and the colt did the rest, coming home his final sixteenth in :06 1/5.

Mott showed how much he thought of the colt by entering him in the Street Sense Stakes off that race. When he was forced to scratch because of the sloppy track the colt came right back in the Nov. 9 allowance race, also at 1 1/16 miles. This time Parchment Party drew the outside post and again was taken back to last. As in his debut he began picking off horses along the rail on the far turn. But this time Graham wanted no part of the rail and eased him out, finding an opening between horses. Despite racing greenly down the stretch, ducking in at one point, he collared the leaders and again drew clear, winning by 1 ½ lengths with his ears pricked.

Although he is a big horse, he has a regal look about him and a beautiful head and has already shown his courage, a big closing kick, and a smooth lead change. After getting two weeks of freshening on the farm he is back with Mott in Florida to prepare for the Derby trail. With his size and strong steady move, we’ll see if Mott can get him closer to the pace and show some versatility.

How big is Parchment Paper? When Weinmann went to see him at the Keeneland September yearling sale after his team had picked him out, a person in front of him had just finished inspecting him and Weinmann overheard him say, “The jockey is going to need a trampoline to get on him.”

Buyers may have been turned off by his June foaling date and his size, and Pin Oak was able to get him for $450,000, not bad for a son of the popular stallion Constitution, out of a Tiznow mare. He was sent to Tristan and Valery DeMeric in Ocala to be broken, and because he was so big and immature they took their time with him. They let him develop slowly and he showed he was an intelligent horse who did everything asked of him with ease. In mid-May he was sent to Mott, who Pin Oak felt would be the perfect trainer to let him fill out into his big frame. By mid-August he had turned the corner and it was time to start looking for a two-turn maiden race.

That brings us up to date on the Parchment Party story, as well as the story of his dam. Obviously no one knows what the future holds for the colt, but we thought he was worth a heads up and might be a horse some people would like to follow.

You never know when you go all out like this on an unproven 2-year-old. If it goes nowhere I will merely quote the closing line of the hysterical Allen Sherman song from the sixties, “Muddah, fadduh, kindly disregard this letter.”

Photos courtesy of Mary Ellet, Pin Oak Stud

Racing historian, author, and award-winning retired journalist for the Daily Racing Form and The Blood-Horse, Steve Haskin was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame’s Media Roll of Honor in 2016. Known for his racing knowledge and insightful prose, he has been an exclusive contributor to Secretariat.com since 2020.

 


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52 Responses to “An Early Party Favor for the Derby Trail”

  1. Michelle H says:

    Great article on an interesting colt, Steve. Will be looking out for Parchment Party in the future… When I did more research on the colt, I accidentally typed “Parchment Paper” in my initial search, lol… It got me thinking about the significance of his unique name & I’m guessing it correlates to his sire whose namesake was historically written on parchment. Overall, a clever name I think but hopefully future race callers don’t fudge it up like I did. 😉

  2. Davids says:

    The December 10, Hong Kong Longines International Jockeys’ Championship was dominated by winners originally coming from Australia. Of the 10 races, half were won by horses whose country of origin was Australia. The days when European and US bred horses were considered supreme the world over have gone. The thoroughbred industry in Australia is thriving at present with sales prices skyrocketing and the prize money overall is spectacular.

    • Matthew W says:

      David’s …when I was in seventh grade my teacher brought in Australian newspapers, and there were horse race photos on the front page! Horse Racing in Australia is #1……

      • Davids says:

        Matthew, when I spent a couple a grade school years living in Australia nearly all the children new all the famous racehorse and we actually had Melbourne Cup sweeps in school then went home and had Melbourne Cup sweeps in the neighborhood. The classes would stop so we could hear the running of the Melbourne Cup.

        The newspapers now are not what they used to be in covering racing throughout the year but the Melbourne Cup Carnival still has the same prominence it had when I was a child.

        It’s always unfortunate that the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the Breeders’ Cup inevitably are on the same weekend. I would have little hesitation in saying that the Australian runners would dominate all the turf sprints at all ages.

      • Davids says:

        Matthew, 50 years back none of the Australian races would have been considered in the top 100 Group/Grade 1 races. Now, going over the past 5 years, Australia had 121, Europe/UK 93, USA 84, Japan 58, and Hong Kong 48 of the World’s Top 100 Group/Grade 1 races according to the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities.

        You’ve come a long way, baby. Ha ha I remember my uncles telling me at the time, 1970, that I shouldn’t spend too much time going through Australian racing/bloodlines they’re just ‘second rateres.’ Boy, how things have changed over those past 50 years or so.

  3. Lynda King says:

    Congratulations to 2023 Vox Populi Cody’s Wish!
    What a lovely thank you note from the Dorman Family on the Secretariat site home page.
    Cody is now doubt leaping for joy in Heaven!

  4. Bill Dawson says:

    Evidently, Todd Pletcher is taking his time with the two top 2yr. old colts in his barn, Fierceness and Locked. Neither colt has had a recorded work since finishing 1st and 3rd, in the BC Juvenile, on 11-3.
    Is there cause for concern, probably not.

  5. Counter Point says:

    Is PARCHMENT PARTY the 2nd coming of Tiz The Law by sire and dam sire or Mucho Macho Man by a June DOB?

    Has there been a Kentucky Derby winner in the modern era with a June foaling date?

    What I found – ESPN Extract

    ‘Feb 25, 2014 · Well, no horse foaled in June ever has won the Kentucky Derby, or at least there’s none among those winners whose foal dates are known.’

    From recollection, Mucho Macho Man with a DOB of June 15th finished 3rd in the 2011 KD. Can the younger Parchment Party with of DOB of June 5th finish 2 place better in KD 2024? If he is good enough, I see no reason why he couldn’t emerge the win despite being at serious physical maturity disadvantage.

    Mucho Macho Man made his first start a month after turning two. That was really close for what is considered to be a very late foal. He made 8 starts before the KD. That was brutal for a June foal given most older KD prospects make significantly less starts before the KD.

    He must have been an exhausted after his 3rd place effort in the KD. Consequently, his 6th & 7th place finishes in the Preakness and Belmont are understandable.

    Parchment Party has won trice over 8 1/F in average times of 1:45 & 1:44 plus. The high-water mark for 2YO over the distance is the 1:42.83 recorded by Super Saver which is the SR for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He didn’t exactly overpower the opposition as his win margins were 1 1/2L and 1 1/4L. But a win other the 2 extended distance for a June foal, is extremely encouraging considering he is unlikely to be anywhere near full strength given his age.

    His greatest challenge could be history. Sometimes it’s the biggest hurdle of all to overcome.

  6. Discopartner says:

    Aqueduct and Saratoga are both 11/8 mi. tracks, they’d have to start the race on a turn if it was 11/2 mi.

    The Belmont stakes has lost stature with some, the BC has surpassed it for some, the distance is beyond the “classic”, but say you’re going to run it shorter and the whining begins.

    • Sarah Rowe says:

      I don’t see how the Belmont is “really” the Belmont at 11/4 miles. I know that in the days of Sir Barton and Man O’ War, it was only 11 furlongs, but it’s been 1.5 miles most of its history, not 11/4 miles. I understand, however, the difference in size of the Saratoga track from Belmont’s likely required the shorter distance. After all, I’ve heard turns tire horses, who get hurt more easily at the end of long hard races, especially nowadays, with so many soft animals going to stud, and keeping the usual distance at Saratoga would mean (maybe I’m wrong) THREE turns. The problem is that the Belmont’s usual distance at 1.5 miles makes it a special challenge on the American racing calendar, and gives our Triple Crown three classic distances, with the last jewel at a distance that marks the longest classic distance and shortest cup distance. The challenge makes Triple Crown triumphs that much more memorable, like Secretariat’s rout and Affirmed’s battle with Alydar, but now it’s just the usual classic distance of 11/4 miles. As I said, it’s not the racing officials’ fault, just unfortunate.

      • Discopartner says:

        Your note gives a great perspective of the whole triple crown, with the three different distances being a vital ingredient. It’s a shame they had to compromise.

  7. Davids says:

    The Saratoga Belmont Stakes of 2024 is going to be a unique event, tickets will be sold out quickly I suspect. Will it be easier or harder for a colt to win the Triple Crown due to the distance reduction? I say harder, as the option will be ‘probably’ ensure a larger field than usual and the extra prize money won’t hurt either.

    • Todd Vaughn says:

      I’m looking at this as a positive. The Preakness and Belmont have been kind of depressing in recent years, Triple Crown or not. There just doesn’t seem to be the same emphasis on sportsmanship and recognizing those races as important as stand alone events. Part of the reason may be the fragility of the horses, but much of it is financial and the protection of the horses’ relutations. Maybe Saratoga will shake things up.

      • Davids says:

        As much as the Belmont Stakes is the race I look forward to the most of the Triple Crown races, especially because of the stamina test it entails, I agree with you on all aspects. The Preakness has become the ‘ugly’ stepsister to both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. Nobody seems interested in the Preakness Stakes anymore apart from the connections whose colt won the Kentucky Derby.

        Although it tends to defeat the purpose of the Triple Crown races, I’d stretch the break between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness to 4 weeks and the same between the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. Hopefully, making all the Triple Crown races more interesting and competitive especially for the racing fans.

        Tradition is fine when everything is positive but horse racing has changed dramatically over the past 50 years or so and saving racing, rather than just enjoying the spectacle as we once did, seems the main priority.

        • Todd Vaughn says:

          Of course, there is a slippery slope argument to be made. As in all aspects of life, once you give a little ground for practicality, the steps keep getting easier, but i think it will be fun at saratoga.

          • Davids says:

            2024, The Belmont Stakes – “The Test of the Champion” at the “Graveyard of Champions” certainly has a ring to it no less.

          • Davids says:

            I remember in the 70s we were being told that when everyone is using computers at work our hardest job would be to fill the extra leisure time we’d have. That fantasy lasted a long time. lol!!

  8. Matthew W says:

    Maybe he can run in mid June, in the “Travers-lite”….

    • Matthew W says:

      They can’t do 12 furlongs so the lower it to TEN?….They COULD do 13 furlongs, a speedball named Swaps won a 13 furlongs race—Belmont is SUPPOSED to be the stamina test….

    • Davids says:

      Why was Aqueduct given the ‘bum’s rush’ for holding the Belmont Stakes anyway? Is it that decrepit now it would be too embarrassing. NYRA is not bothering to improve the facility anymore as they are going to sell it?

      • Matthew W says:

        I heard they removed seating

        • Davids says:

          Construction at Belmont Park must be in full swing and on time which is odd for New York. lol.

        • SJ says:

          All that is left of the racing facility is about 1/4 of the original structure. The casino takes up what was the original grandstand area, so most of the seating was eliminated. So it is the apron, the inside with limited amenities, or sharing the seats with the pigeons. Referred to by horseman & locals as Aquesucks.

          • Davids says:

            I’ll miss the name ‘Aqueduct’, if nothing else. The new Belmont Park facility is something to look forward to, I hope.

            • SJ says:

              I saw Belmont Park for the first time in over 4 years the day after the Belmont Stakes. I wanted to weep. This was my 2nd home when I started my racetrack career in ’72, so it had that impact. I understand the contraction of the facilities & the need for the arena, but…. progress, or so they say.

              • Davids says:

                They are doing the same here at Caulfield and Moonee Valley racecourses with massive high rise apartments on the outer edges and entertainment complexes in the middle of the track. How you follow the horses doesn’t seem to come into the equation.

                As Joni Mitchell sang:

                “We’ll something’s lost, but something’s gained
                In living every day”

                At least you have the memories in your mind. Sad though.

      • SJ says:

        In case you are not aware, the casino takes over 3/4 of the structure. Basically what was formerly the clubhouse area. Very little amenities, very little crossover traffic, except to get food in casino. Much different when the Belmont was held previously at Aqueduct during earlier renovations of Belmont Park. Not the same as when they held the Breeders Cup in ’85, even.

        • Davids says:

          Thanks SJ, yes I know about the Casino take over but I haven’t been there since moving to Melbourne way back in 2019. No White Christmases here, possible bushfires to worry about.

  9. Bill Dawson says:

    Hi Steve

    Any thoughts on next year’s Belmont Stakes being held at Saratoga, and the distance reduced from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/4 miles?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I dont think they had any other choice. It will be an asterisk Triple Crown with the distance and too much resemblance to the Travers , but NYRA has already gone off the deep end running tthe Belmont at 1 1/8 miles in 2020. This isnt nearly that bad. It’ll be a fun day for sure.

  10. Bigtex says:

    Steve, you are great story teller! Thank you so much! That was a nice little gallop out after scraping the paint in debut!

  11. Liz says:

    I read about Parchment Party a few months back in one of those HRN “Intriguing First Time Starters to Watch” type of articles. As a big fan of Tiz the Law 3 years ago, I love that he’s bred on the same cross. Watched both of his races and, like you, was impressed by that maiden victory. Thanks for bringing us some backstory about him and his dam! Hope he has success on the Derby Trail!

  12. Bill Dawson says:

    My current top ten 2yr. old colts, as of 12-5.

    1) Fierceness
    2) Nysos
    3) Honor Marie
    4) Real Men Violin
    5) Locked
    6) The Wine Steward
    7) Muth
    8) El Capi
    9) Dornoch
    10) Knightsbridge

  13. Ms Blacktype says:

    Since we’re talking about 2YOs, I see El Capi got an otherworldly 99 Beyer breaking his maiden in his first start at Aqueduct Saturday. He won the 7 furlong race by nearly 10 lengths. While the track was sealed and speed favoring, his was the top Beyer of the day with the exception of Hoist the Gold’s 109 in the Cigar Mile.

    El Capi may be more of a sprinter/miler than a Derby candidate, given his sire is Maclean’s Music, with sprinters on the dam side as well (although his broodmare sire is Flatter). Another wrinkle: he’s from the obscure Australian C2 family, which only goes back to the 1820s.

    • Davids says:

      It’ll interesting to see if El Capi can replicate the achievements of Drain the Clock or is more competitive than the latter was at longer distances. Mind you, Drain the Clock’s pedigree suggests more stamina. You never know until they actually test them.

  14. Ms Blacktype says:

    Loved the back story on Parchment Party’s dam and her new owners, who took a real risk with a budget that’s microscopic compared to other players in this industry. I may have missed it, but was Life Well Lived not in foal at the time of the sale? That might explain the relatively low price.

    I sure hope Carrie Brogden and her Mom get at least one more good one from that lovely mare. Thanks, Steve, for bringing us this story.

    • Davids says:

      Ms Blacktype, Life Well Lived was purchased by Machmer Hall, in foal to Constitution. Hip 348 Keeneland November sale, 2023.

      • Ms Blacktype says:

        Thanks, Davids. That means she’s carrying a full sibling to Parchment Party. Delightful, and may she have a safe delivery.

        • Davids says:

          Yes, Ms Blacktype, and should Parchment Party continue to improve the resulting foal could provide a handy little profit all round. Sometimes, you’re lucky.

  15. Bill Dawson says:

    The current odds on Parchment Party, at Caesars Sportsbook, 125-1. Get those odds while you folks.
    Real Men Violin at 100-1, and Sierra Leone at 75-1, look enticing as well.

  16. Derek Manthey says:

    Nice eye Hawkeye! Your the good man to have on point for this mission and Happy Holidays from Camp Grenada

  17. Ayley L. says:

    Thanks for presencing Allen Sherman…haven’t thought of him for years, and ” hysterical” [ly funny] sure does describe his music accurately. Thanks, too for bringing Parchment Party onto my radar. Very handsome colt from the still pictures and I look forward to seeing how he moves. I’m also quite curious about how his name, I’m wondering if there’s more to it than having Constitution as his daddy.

    And for Carrie, Lynn and Life Well Lived. Wonder if they’ll breed back to Constitution or pick a different stallion for her?

  18. arlingtonfan says:

    Thanks, Steve, for giving us a heads-up on this intriguing horse. I’m not worried about the late foaling date; my beloved Mucho Macho Man was born on June 15th!

  19. Jo Anne says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for another great back story. This is why I follow horse racing.

  20. Davids says:

    Steve, thank you for the background story of this two year old colt that may become a major player in the race for the roses next year. Coming from the family of a Dubai World Cup winner in Well Armed as well as replicating the successful cross of Constitution with Tiznow mares, e.g. Tiz the Law and We the People, the future looks promising for Parchment Party. True Nicks A++ for good measure.

    There were half a dozen or so Constitution yearling colts at the 2022 Keeneland September sales that caught your eye so there may be some more Constitution colts popping up in the near future touting their wares.

    Hopefully, Steve, you have quite a few more two year old colts to discuss as they make for a fascinating read. Thanks, again.